5 ways to motivate your team during a challenging time

Gossip, speculation, and burnout can strike in any office.

When it happens, managers have good reason to improve the mood as quickly as they can. Research has found that when your team is stressed, you may face challenges with disengagement, lower productivity, and higher turnover.   

Writing for Ladders, Monica Torres argues that before you can revitalize your team, you need to take care of yourself first. Torres recommends a few exercises from Raphael Cushnir, an author and life coach.

First, write down your biggest fears about the situation, and let yourself fully imagine each worst-case scenario. Often, you'll realize that you're capable of surviving those frightening outcomes, and they begin to look less intimidating, Torres writes.

Once you're feeling calm and confident, it's time to help improve morale on your team. Torres recommends five ways to do this, based on advice from leadership experts.

1: Congratulate your team.

During an organization's toughest moments, praise is sometimes all employees need. Torres cites research that found employees care more about the impact of their work than their paycheck.

When giving praise, try to identify a specific act and how it contributed to the wider team's success, Leah Fassler writes for Quartz. Fassler recommends making sure your praise is genuine and delivered face-to-face.

2: Walk the walk.

When times get tough, values become even more important. Torres recommends reviewing whether your day-to-day interactions with your team demonstrate your institution's values.

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3: Stop the gossip.

Torres urges leaders to try to dispel any false rumors by being clear about what you know and what you don't know. When having this discussion with your team, Torres recommends being careful how you frame it—that is, don't be overly cynical.

4: Sweat the small stuff.

Don't say everything is fine if it isn't, Torres advises. Instead, she recommends trying to support your team by taking small actions such as buying them coffee, acting as a reference, or reviewing their resume.

5: Help staff see the big picture.

Torres encourages leaders to remind their teams that major decisions at the organization aren't personal. She writes that it can also help to give your team a sense of perspective—one bad month could easily turn around for the better (Torres, Ladders, 8/2).

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