The recession in the late 2000s and early 2010s brought out the worst and best in others.
Numerous industries were affected and thousands of businesses across the world were forced to shut down. Due to the economic downturn, the suicide rate dramatically increased signifying the fact that a lot of workers and entrepreneurs did not know how to handle the loss of their jobs or companies.
During these dark times, though, there were many employees, long-time and new entrepreneurs who were able to weather the economic storm and stay afloat, eventually maintain financial stability, and achieve moderate success.
Needless to say, these people would not have found the success they experienced back then if they did not have the motivation to continue working hard and to achieve their goals.
Leaders as Pillars of Motivation
It is safe to say that many people who came out winners from the recent recession found inspiration and the drive to succeed from their leaders.
During difficult times, business leaders have an important role to play in keeping their workers’ morale up and staying productive and loyal to the company. This is something that is highly commendable since these leaders still found a way to stay motivated and inspire their staff even if they themselves may have already felt disheartened during those difficult years.
As a leader, you can motivate your employees and, in the process, find some inspiration yourself to stay positive and continue being productive by following these tips:
1. Revisit the company’s mission vision and goals
Start building up the morale of your staff by going through the company’s mission/vision and goals again with them. This is a good way to remind everyone why they chose to work in your firm and what they signed up for when they started working for the company.
These important concepts embody the reasons why the organization is in existence. They are great for helping the workers begin focusing on their work again and realize that everything they do matters.
Going over the organization’s mission/vision and goals with your employees is also the perfect opportunity for you to remember the reasons why you are part of the company (if you are a manager) and why you should stay loyal to your employers.
2. Be honest yet optimistic
When your team members start asking you about the current situation, be honest. Share with them whatever you know but, as much as possible, avoid sharing your personal inferences or opinions.
Minimizing or trying to hide a negative situation from your employees will not do anything good for all of you. Keep in mind that lying and hiding information will only breed mistrust, suspicion, insecurity and fear among your workers.
But when sharing information with your employees, remain confident. Focus on the positive impact of the current situation to the organization and the workforce. Remind them that you or the management will not make hasty decisions and actions, and that the company is doing all that can be done to protect the future of the company and everyone in it.
Understanding everything that is happening to the company before talking with your employees and being optimistic will also allow you to have a clearer picture of the present situation and how you can help the organization and everyone deal with it better. This, in turn, will help you stay motivated throughout the tough times.
3. Encourage employees to be part of the decisions and solutions
You can help your staff to stay motivated by allowing them to have a say in certain decisions.
For instance, if working hours have to be cut temporarily, let your employees choose or create their working schedules. By giving them this opportunity, you will enable your employees to feel involved. Additionally, it will give them a greater sense of control about the decisions affecting their lives.
If certain problems are leaving you and other top-level executives stumped, don’t hesitate to ask the employees about their opinions or to come up with possible solutions. Whether the company is looking for ways to cut overheads, reduce waste, or save more money on certain expenditures, give everyone the chance to share their ideas.
When you get great inputs from your employees, you will be reminded of how valuable they are, and knowing this will give you the strength to continue working and fighting for them.
4. Provide opportunities for learning and development
In case your employees are facing a lot of downtimes, turn these idle times into something more productive.
Initiate team-building activities to allow your employees to build bonds and improve teamwork. Work with HR to create one-day training programs to help employees learn new skills or to refresh their knowledge.
Look for inexpensive or even free learning methods (there are a lot of free training courses you can download online) that will help your staff develop the skills they always wanted to have or learn but did not have enough time to focus on before.
By implementing these activities, your employees will know that you and the company still value them. And by working hard to initiate these activities, you will gain some sense of satisfaction that you are doing something to help your staff learn new things and be productive while they are at work.
5. Share your and the company’s long-term plans
Lastly, you have to remember (and you will do well to remind your team) that hard times do not last forever. Better times will come soon enough; you just need to toughen up and stick together.
Because of this, it is important that you be ready when this time comes. This means coming up with plans that involve the further development of your staff, assignments, and even possible promotions.
But before sharing these plans, ensure you will have the resources and power to implement them. This means making plans that are feasible. Although you want to give hope to your team, do not give them empty promises simply to keep them happy and loyal in the short term.
Once you have come up with these realistic long-term plans, keep your staff constantly informed. Involve them in certain steps as well so that they will be inspired and will work hard to be a part of these future plans.
As your work on these plans and goals, you will be inspired and be excited about the future as well – something that you can easily share with your employees.
To be the best leader during tough times, stay positive and confident. Continue working as usual yet always find the time to talk to your employees. Keep them updated and look for ways to enable them to stay engaged with their work and the company.
Salma El-Shurafa is an experienced Executive Coach and founder of The Pathway Project. She is a Professional Certified Coach by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach from The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and a graduate of CTI’s Co-Active Leadership program.