Five Ways to Motivate Employees in Uncertainty

by | Jun 21, 2022 | Podcast

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How do you inspire your team in the face of uncertainty and at risk of burnout? We will talk about that in today’s episode of Reflect Forward: Advice From a CEO.

People are feeling overwhelmed. There’s so much noise and conflict in the world. Managing inflation, workloads, childcare, and other life’s demands – on top of the conflict of political polarization and war – sometimes it’s just too much to take. Your employees are at risk of burnout. But as a leader, not only do you have to manage these tense times yourself, but you also must keep your team motivated and moving forward. You have to support them through these tough times to encourage their well-being.

That’s why I share my five tips on leading through uncertainty to keep your team motivated and reduce the chance that they will experience frequent burnout.

1. Manage yourself: No matter how turbulent you feel on the inside, you must remind cool, calm and collected. Remember, you set the tone, and your team will be stressed out if you are stressed out. Why? Because they model and mimic you. To be this, you must prioritize self-care. You can’t take care of others if you aren’t taking care of yourself. When you are in a good mental space, you are more likely to adapt to what’s needed at the moment.

2. Make courageous decisions: Your team needs you to make brave decisions. That means you must step into the discomfort of making difficult decisions. Your team and company require you to be decisive, especially when making tough and unpopular decisions. I get it, it’s not easy, but it must be done. My best advice is to show the vulnerability that making tough decisions requires. You may not be sure of the outcome or if you are making the right decision, but you must make them. Don’t be afraid of failure; instead, embrace the learning that failure might bring.

3. Listen, listen, listen: Everybody wants to be seen and heard. It’s part of why people leave their jobs; they don’t feel seen, heard, and valued. Many leaders would rather hunker down and get things done, but when times are stressful, the best thing you can do is sit down and listen. Dialogue matters. People want to talk about how they’re feeling, they want to know you care, and they would like a say in their work.

4. Be transparent: All your employees want to work for a transparent leader. Why? No one likes to be left in the dark or to have partial or no information shared with them. Lack of transparency creates more fear and uncertainty because people tell themselves stories in the absence of information. And typically those stories are negative, and that’s not going to help you. You want everybody to be on the same page, even if things are tricky and you must deal with challenging situations. So be transparent, tell the truth, and share as much information as possible. And okay with saying, I don’t know. No one has all the answers.

5. Build connections: Help your employees feel connected and like they are part of something bigger than themselves. Everyone wants to feel part of a team and that they belong. Ask them questions and create opportunities for them to connect with their peers.

Question of the Week

How do you have difficult conversations where people walk away feeling positive?

You can have difficult conversations, and you can have people feel motivated and inspired and walk away feeling positive. How do you do it? Here’s a straightforward trick: In addition to listening and engaging in the conversations and being open-minded, I turn negative language into positive language. You can say the same thing using positive language.

For example

“Your communication style is hindering your performance. You need to stop interrupting and listen more carefully to what’s being said.” This statement is relatively negative.

Try this instead

“I’d like to talk about improving your communication style so you can be more successful. I’ve witnessed you interrupting, leaving people feeling like they aren’t being heard. I’d like to see you develop some tools that will help you be a better listener.”

Listen in for more tips on how to turn negative language into positive.

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