ON A BUDGET: Motivating your team, bolstering loyalty & elevating morale. (Full Series)

Monday, November 23, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

(Photo: stopnlook)

(Originally posted as a series November 16 -20, 2009 on The Blog of Jason Christensen – “Your Life as a Remote User”)

Times are tough right now. Raises are not being doled out, salary’s are being cut, 401K’s are not being matched, people are losing their jobs…morale is low. Many managers may not be concerned if their remaining employees are unhappy; where do they think they are going to go in this economic environment? Don’t be short sighted; employees who are not happy are looking elsewhere and when the climate turns many will abandon ship. Now is the time to keep your employees exhilarated!

“So what can you do to motivate a team and create loyal employees when morale is low?”

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In this economy it’s imperative employers concentrate on non-monetary motivating factors by:

  1. Taking a genuine interest in people
  2. Keeping an open line of communication
  3. Helping people to understand the importance of their role
  4. Bestowing recognition on your team
  5. Cultivating career development plans

—————————————————————————————————————————————————

1. Take a genuine interest in people.

When times get tough people band together; they take a bona fide interest in one another.

  • Find out what is going on in the life of your team members
  • What is important to them right now
  • Let them know you understand
  • Do what you can to help them
  • Offer advice if they are looking for it

Try making a mental list of everyone you may encounter today; think of what they are working on or what they have going on in their life and try to relate to them. People appreciate it when you take an interest in their lives. It will increase morale, let people know you care and help them realize they are not just another number in the corporate books.

Remote Note:

When your team is remote and you do not see them face-to-face this can be especially challenging. Take the time to work with each of them personally. Be sure to contact them weekly even if it is just to touch base. A one-on-one call will let them know you are thinking of them and will be there help should anything come up.

Keep in mind; this may be something you have to ease into if you have not shown an interest in the past; otherwise they may think you are prying and become suspicious. So take it slow, work to re-develop those relationships and with any luck it will lead to a motivated team, stronger group bond, greater retention rates, and increased team morale.

Think of others first, show interest in their lives, offer a helping hand.

What are some ideas you have to strengthen the bonds with a team?
Please leave a comment, we would love to hear from you.

2. Keeping an open line of communication.

An open door policy sends a message to your coworkers you are approachable, willing to listen and discuss issues as they come up. An open line of communication also acquaints you with your team in order to know what is important to them. If you are familiar with their goals and desires, you will be able to lead them more effectively grooming them for the next steps they wish to achieve. Without and open line of communication you are leading them blindly and will not get the synergies needed to achieve your goals.

  • Ask employees for their ideas
  • Be a good listener
  • Take notes
  • Work to find ways to incorporate their ideas into the corporate vision

You may be surprised at the good points of information they will provide to you. And when you do use their ideas and the employees see them in action you will be surprised by their loyalty to you and the company.

Don’t forget, communication is a two way street. People feel important when they know what is going on with their company. They feel a sense of power when they are “in-the-know” on breaking news. Reach out to your staff when there is news to be shared, organize your thoughts and convey a clear, concise, informational message without breaching company confidentiality.

Remote Note:

It can be tough to have a so called “open door” when you lead a team of remote users. Here are some tips to help:

  • Always take their calls or return their calls as soon as you are available.
  • If you only have a moment, let them know and schedule a definitive time to speak with them further.
  • Hold weekly conference calls to allow for corporate communications, success and improvement stories as well as an open forum for issues affecting the team.

Keep an open line of communication, be a good listener and make them feel important.

What are some thoughts you have to enhance the communication within a team?
Please leave a comment, we would love to hear from you.

3. Helping people to understand the importance of their role.

People like to feel needed, so helping people understand their contribution to the corporation and showing them their efforts DO make a difference will increase their morale. It is important for people to understand how each gear turns to keep the machine operating effectively. They need to understand the part they play in the overall corporate structure and the flow of the business.

Take a particular function in your business as an example:

  • Where was it generated what is the intended outcome?
  • What path had the process taken before it reached your team?
  • Where did it go afterward?
  • What was the result and how did it contribute to the goals of the company?

It is important to illustrate this so people understand their role is not idle and without function.

Another way to generate a feeling of contribution to the company is to delegate authority. Delegate authority by:

  • Encouraging people to take on additional responsibilities
  • Aligning them with the company goals
  • Letting them take ownership of certain processes.

This increase in leadership responsibilities will build the bench strength of your team and increase fellowship amongst employees. Furthermore take the time to publicly recognize them and convey how their initiatives helped the company and/or the customer. Better yet invite the customer to take the time to provide a public testimonial of the employees efforts. This kind of respect in a timely manner will go a long way with your team.

Remote Note:

When your team is part of a remote workforce it can be especially challenging for them to understand the role they play in the company and the path processes take from inception to fruition. By illustrating to your team the route a business process takes whether it is through a slide presentation or work flow chart it helps them understand the function of their position and how they can affect the overall process.

In addition, it is important for the remote work force to understand the appropriate contacts for varied situations they encounter in their day to day. This will help them know where to go for answers when a problem arises.

Help your team to understand their overall role in the company and build bench strength through delegation.

What are you doing to build the bench strength of your workforce?
How do you communicate workflows and processes within your group?

Please leave a comment, we would love to hear from you.

4. Bestowing recognition on your team.

Expendable funds are minimal, but how do you recognize your team for a job well done? One of the best ways is to allow your employees a greater stake in the company. By offering your team options in the organization it generates a deeper interest in helping the company to succeed. The closer the ties, the more loyal they will be and the more desire they will have to look out for the best interest of the company.

A lesser option is to provide them with a gift they would not otherwise spend their own money to purchase. In better times companies had gift catalogs allowing the staff to pick from a selection of nice items. In today’s climate a more resonable token may be company logo merchandise. It allows the employee to boast his affiliation with a nice corporate logo while at a minimal cost to the company.

Let’s face it, people enjoy recognition, but the timing and context have to be right. Be sure to:

An award is good, but bragging rights are better!

Remote Note:

With a team of remote users it can be difficult to publicly recognize a job well done. A great vehicle for recognizing a team member is through a weekly newsletter. Create a short article touting the wonderful job they did and if you can get a customer testimonial it makes the achievement all the better. There is nothing like being able to show others your achievements right there in print.

Another great method is on your weekly team call where their colleagues can applaud them in person. It is always nice to have a quick pat on the back for a job well done.

What a terrific way to spark a friendly internal competition for your team members in order to vie for that top spot.

Awards and recognition generate loyalty and elevate morale.

What forms of recognition do you use?
How do you recognize an employee for a job well done?

Please leave a comment, we would love to hear from you.

5. Cultivating career development plans.

One of the worst feelings as an employee is not knowing where you are going with your employer. Take time with the individuals on your team and sit down with them to develop a clear career path showing them the next steps they can take based on their achievements. A great time to cover this is during biannual performance reviews. Take this time to provide constructive feedback AND discuss with them what they can do to grow with the company. Find out what you can do to help each of your team members advance and work to make it happen. Not only will it help them, but as management sees future leaders continually being produced from your staff it lets them know the value you offer to the company.

Develop your team using:

  • Books and short articles on related topics
  • Online Courses
  • Out of office training workshops or seminars

When people are excused from their regular duties for a short period of time to participate in these type of events, it makes make them feel important amongst the crowd.

Out of sight out of mind.

Remote Note:
When you manage a remote team it is challenging to enhance the visibility of the work your team does. Often their achievements get overlooked by people who work in the office since they do not see your team members regularly. This can make it difficult for members of your team to exceed in the workplace and continually grow with the company. It is important to create campaigns to tout the accomplishments of your team. It could be through a company newsletter or possibly a weekly email stating the highlights of the week. Be creative and find a method which fits your corporate structure.

Take time with your team to make sure you understand what their goals are with the company and help them to develop and achieve those goals.

What have you done to develop your team?
What are some methods you use to boast the triumphs of your team?

Please leave a comment, we would love to hear from you.

Keep your team on board! Think of others first by conveying an interest in their lives, talking with them frequently, letting them know they are doing a good job and you appreciate their contributions, then help them to develop in their careers. With any luck it will lead to a motivated team, stronger group bond, greater retention rates, and increased team morale.

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  1. Jason Christensen
    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 12:46 PM

    Thank you for your interest in this article, I appreciate it. Yes, feel free to utilize this article on your site. Please let me know when you post it. Thank you, Jason

  2. Jason Christensen
    Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 9:53 PM

    Since posting this article I have come across another great source of information on the subject. Please see “Manage My Employees Motivate. Retain. Lead.” by Mark Holmes at http://managemyemployees.com/

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