How to sustain team motivation when the midyear slump hits?

11 August 2021 By Michelle Gibbings
sustain team motivation

In the southern states, winter can feel never-ending. Combine winter with COVID-19 fatigue, and you may be finding it harder to stay focused and be productive, writes Michelle Gibbings.

The weather impacts how we feel, think and act, and there’s plenty of evidence of the effects COVID is having on motivation levels.

Keeping motivated at work doesn’t happen by accident. It involves deliberate, focused and frequent steps so you and your team stay engaged.

Understand what motivates

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We have this curious notion that motivation somehow appears. It doesn’t. It comes from starting.

So don’t sit around waiting for inspiration to strike – because it won’t.

It helps to time block your day and set yourself a series of goals throughout the day. For example, if you don’t want to do something, set yourself the aim of working on the task for 15 minutes, and after that, you reward yourself with a cup of coffee (or something else you like).

You’ll find that once you get going, you are likely to keep going until the task is finished. Talk to your team and find out what motivates them. It helps to understand the individual differences across the group.

Research shows making progress is a huge factor in keeping people motivated. It helps to set goals and then visibly track progress. When you and your team are working on a big project, seeing your daily progress keeps you motivated.

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Set daily intentions

At the start of each day, talk to your team about what they want to achieve. It helps to have clear intentions that focus the day. Encourage them to write down their commitment and share it with the team.

The act of physically writing a goal, rather than just verbalising it, makes the goal harder to ignore. When intentions are spoken and committed to publicly, it provides additional impetus to complete the task.

Clean up your workspace

We intuitively know that the space we are in affects our mood, and yet so often, our work environment is dull and drab, cluttered or too noisy. It’s not conducive to people being at their best.

The classic art of feng shui is built on the principle of the imperative of paying attention to the space we are in. Set aside time to clean up your workspace using the classic Kaizen 5S process.

For the uninitiated, this is a five-step process that helps create a clean and well-organised workplace.

1. Sort – scan the workplace and get rid of all the material, equipment and other items that are unused and lying around.

2. Straighten – taking all the remaining items, consider how frequently you use the item and who uses it. Categorise and organise where things are stored and placed so they are easily accessible based on the frequency of use.

3. Shine – clean your work area and set a maintenance routine so it all remains in good order.

4. Standardise – set common ways of doing things, adopt standard tools and develop the habit of leaving your workspace clean at the end of each working day.

5. Sustain – don’t let your improvements slide.

You can use this approach for your home office or home workspace, too. When everything is in its place, it creates a sense of order and calm. However, this approach can also leave a work environment feeling sterile, cold and unwelcoming.

Elevate your workspace

Consequently, consider how you can make your space more aesthetically pleasing so your mood lifts when you walk into the room. For example, have plants. Use brightly coloured pens and folders because colour is scientifically proven to impact how we feel.

If you are working from home, burn incense or use an oil diffuser; scent has a powerful impact, too.

As much as possible, use natural light and make sure you go outside the office to get natural air and sunshine during the working day.

Lastly, find the noise level that works for you. Some people like background noise; other people need silence.

Michelle Gibbings is a workplace expert and the author of three books. Her latest book is “Bad Boss: What to do if you work for one, manage one or are one”.

How to sustain team motivation when the midyear slump hits?
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