Let me set the scenario for you. The ‘cream of the crop’ of your employees is all gathered in your boardroom for the sixth team meeting. As you gaze around the table you notice that two of them are almost nodding off, one is frantically typing notes on their laptop, while another is staring out the window, thoughts totally lost in space. The remainder of the group looks as if root canal surgery is imminent and they really just want to escape back to the relative safety of their office.
As the team leader, what do you do to remotivate this once gung-ho group to be enthusiastic and engaged employee team members?
By this point, you’ve probably invested a fair amount of time and effort trying to accomplish the goal you formed the group to work on in the first place. Usually, everyone is high on adrenaline and eager when they first start, but once the glitter has faded off the prospective new task, interest can wane and you’re left with a group of disinterested (and sometimes disgruntled) people whose attention and care really isn’t into the project anymore. Plus, I should point out that during this pandemic, more people are working from home so team meetings are held via Zoom, Skype, or some other electronic gathering means. That makes it doubly hard to rally the troops to victory, especially when a member’s attention is broken by having their three-year-old toddler barge into the room to show them their latest finger-painted masterpiece.
Get back in touch with your team
Here are some concrete solutions to add some pizzazz and power to your demotivated team and achieve winning results on project “A.”
Find out if they’re buying into what you’re asking them to do. We all know what the word ‘assume’ means, right? If you’ve not asked them if they’re interested in working on solving this problem, how do you know they even care? You don’t unless you talk to them. Find out upfront if they even want to be on this team and gauge their level of interest before they start snoozing at meetings.
Does your employee function better when working solo? Some people just don’t like working within a large group of people and perform best when left alone to do their job. If that’s the case, assign specific tasks to these employees, advise them of your expectations, and then leave them to finish the work.
How’s their overall personal life going? If an employee is experiencing a rough patch in their home life, it’s definitely going to have an effect on their work performance. Caring for a sick child, looking after elderly parents, disputes with their spouse – any of these reasons and more can detract from their attention and ability to focus on achieving a team goal.
Do your team members feel appreciated? A little praise goes a long way and validation of a job well done is an important key to creating a highly functional and responsible team environment. If the members know (and yes, you have to tell them out loud), that they’re doing a fabulous job, it provides them with an increased sense of personal pride. They’ll also be more willing to help another member on the team if they know their efforts are being noticed by the team leader.
Offer some perks to achieve successful completion. This doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition in order to garner results. Simple things like providing lunch out for the team or gift cards to coffee houses go a long way to providing an impetus to succeed.
Daniel H. Pink, the author of the best-selling book Drive, says “The ultimate freedom for creative groups is the freedom to experiment with new ideas.” As the team leader, be open and receptive when someone offers a different approach to reaching the final goal. Sometimes asking simple questions like “Does everyone understand the objective of this goal?” can open up a dialogue between members and you, the leader. Plus, you’ll gain insight as to what they’re really thinking about the objective as a whole.
Last, but not least, sometimes you have to admit that you’ve simply picked the wrong people to be on the team. It might be time to politely cut a few of the employees from the group and add new people to the mix. Bringing in new blood as it were to the mix just might be the jumpstart you need to get everyone’s engines firing on all cylinders and get the job done.