When the chips are down, fear and uncertainty become staples of work and life. This leads to a lack of trust, decreased productivity, poor focus, uninspired teamwork, and subpar performance. As a leader, you have the power to take actions that will inspire your team to thrive. Here are strategies to help you boost morale and engagement in your operations.
Focus on people, not numbers.
True, there are a lot of numbers to worry about – investments, the bottom line, next quarter’s profits – and it’s easy to become fixated on those figures. If your brain is spinning with strategies on how to stay out of the red, then take a step back and remember that your company isn’t what shows up in the finance department’s spreadsheets. It’s the finance people themselves, and the HR department, and the salespeople, and support staff. Ultimately, an organization’s failure or success is determined by the moods, innovation, energy, thoughts, and behaviors of the people who work there.
It’s not numbers that drive people, but the people that drive numbers. Too often, worried leaders approach this relationship backwards. However, this is not a time to ignore your people. Place your attention on them and on the process! After all, numbers are just measurements and indicators of how well your people are executing. Remember, culture drives behavior, behavior drives habits, and habits drive results.”
Model good behavior.
Leaders set the tone for how employees respond to almost every situation. They can inspire, or they can extinguish. For example, if you greet a worker cheerfully even though you’ve both had to come into work an hour early, he’s likely to mirror that attitude. Remember, whatever you expect from your people, you must also expect from your senior leadership.
Leaders need to be humble and hungry. Humble in that they seek to learn, grow, and improve every day, and hungry with a passion to work harder than everyone else. Now is not a time to be barricaded in your office. Now is a time to be in the trenches with your people, leading, working, and building a successful future.
Practice positive leadership.
And no, “positive leadership” doesn’t simply mean the absence of overt negativity. It means remaining purposeful in the face of adversity. While it’s important to acknowledge the obstacles your organization is facing, don’t dwell on them in meetings or in individual conversations. And don’t bring up bad news before you’ve pointed out one or two things that are going well. Instead of being disappointed by where you are, optimistically focus on where you are going.
Right now, negativity and fear are probably knocking your people off balance. It’s a scientifically proven fact that the nature of our thoughts affects our lives in tangible ways. I firmly believe if you think your best days are behind you, they are. However, if you think your best days are ahead of you, they are. Therefore, it’s time to regroup, refocus, and unite your people to create a winning mindset, culture and positive team environment. Remember, culture drives behavior. You win in the office first. Then you win in the marketplace. With a winning team you create strength on the inside that can withstand the negativity, naysayers, and adversity on the outside.
Fill the void.
These are uncertain times. Employees are questioning how their industries and jobs will be impacted by economic conditions. They’re unsure about what actions to take. Unfortunately, this uncertainly creates a void, and where there is a void, negativity will fill it. In the absence of clear and positive communication, people start to assume the worst, and they will act accordingly. As a leader, you must personally meet with your employees and continually communicate, communicate, communicate. You must be seen and heard, and you must also hear and see. If you always fill the void with positive communication, then negativity and fear can't breed and grow.
Make transparency the norm, not the exception. After all, the more you communicate, the more you foster trust, and the more loyalty is built. Talk to your team members often and let them know where they stand. Encourage your managers and supervisors to do the same. Host frequent town hall meetings in which you listen to employees’ fears, concerns, and ideas, and share your vision for the future.
Forbid complaining. All complaining.
Yeah, that’ll happen when pigs fly, you’re probably thinking. Successful organizations with great cultures focus on solutions, not on complaints. The rule is simple. Let your employees know that they are not allowed to complain unless they also offer solutions.
Remember, banning complaints is tough love for the good of the whole organization. When you boil things down, complaints are just noise and nothing more – but each one does represent an opportunity to turn something negative into something positive. Turn your employees from problem-sharers to problem-solvers – it’ll make an unbelievable difference in your office’s atmosphere, and it will lead to new ideas, innovations, and success.
Teach your people to be heroes, not victims.
Both heroes and victims get knocked down. The distinction between the two groups lies in the fact that heroes get back up while victims simply give up. Help your employees to realize that they are not victims of circumstance. Rather, remind them that they have a high locus of control – in other words, they have a significant influence over how things turn out.
Focus on the small wins.
The key is to always place your attention on those little, ordinary, non-spectacular “wins” that add up to big successes. Expect success, look for success, and celebrate success. When you focus on small wins, you gain the confidence to go after and create the big wins. Keep in mind that employees might currently be discouraged or burnt out right now, so make sure to really highlight and celebrate the small wins in order to foster loyalty, excitement, and confidence.