It’s November, and normally at this point in the year we are all feeling a bit tired and ready for a break. But, this has been no normal year. We might feel exhausted, unrested, anxious and stressed so it’s no wonder it’s hard to lead when our motivation has gone AWOL!

I recently featured in an article from Vitality magazine all about motivation, or should I say lack of, and how, a lot of us are feeling the pressure and the after-effects of a tough year currently.

When we’re unmotivated, this can lead to feeling stressed and anxious in that we’re not doing what we should be doing and we end up in a fired-up hamster wheel of stress achieving nothing, apart from us feeling more exhausted.

I am speaking to a lot of business leaders at the moment who are experiencing just this, as they are not only having to keep themselves motivated but their teams too. Knowing that your team are stressed, tired or just need a break is tough, especially when you have work to deliver and you have other external pressures, but this is the time to work together and ensure the pathways of communication and visibility are as clear as ever.

Here are a few tips to manage you and your team’s lack of motivation:

Honesty is the best policy

Being honest is the number one here and call out the fact that our motivation has gone AWOL. Say it as it is to your teams as if you own it and say you’re struggling too. They’ll appreciate the honesty and will feel they can open up too if you’re showing true vulnerability and humility. I talk more about empathy, vulnerability and humility in leadership in a recent article for TrainingZone. It’s a timeless leadership skill but it’s even more relevant whilst we’re working remotely.

Working as part of a team

Plan how to work through it together. Of course, in an ideal world it would be great to give your team a week off to rest and recoup but sadly that’s often not a possibility. But thinking about what changes and support could you offer them will go along way to keeping a team motivated. An idea would be to increase their lunch break and encourage them to go outside as much as possible during daylight hours. Could you organise an online team exercise session? Perhaps plan a reward for when the task / project is completed so they feel valued and it’s something to work towards. Having a sense of intrinsic motivation is one of the key tenets of working productively and effectively.

Make sure you practice what you preach too – a fatigued leader is not a good leader, so get on the yoga mat with your team if need be, it will do you good!

Bite-sized chunks help with achievement and motivation

Watch the overwhelm – if there is a lot to get done, think about you present it to your teams. Small, manageable chunks might get the best response rather than working on an overwhelming bigger picture. Reward every stage somehow and ensure people’s hard work is appreciated. Try and inject your values into your leadership style – authenticity is the name of the game at the moment.

Don’t skip out on the one-to-ones

Book in and stick to one-to-ones. I have seen so many leaders slip up here as something ‘more important’ has come up which can make their member of staff feel even more devalued. This RSA article states that in a survey from mental health organisation Talk Out suggests that 31% of employees were having fewer one-to-ones with their boss compared to pre-pandemic. Make sure you have regular catch ups booked in with your team as a whole, but also as individuals. This is a unique time that they get your full attention so give it the credit it deserves.

Take it outside and buy the coffees

On the back of this, really try and ‘see’ your team. It’s made doubly difficult the fact that we’re all behind screens at the moment. You can be mindful of their working conditions though. For example, are they working in a shared house? Is their mental health OK? Perhaps they seem subdued and not themselves. As their leader, you have an onus of responsibility to make sure they are OK. If you are local, why not book a walking one-to-one and take them out for an outside coffee. It’ll do you both good as leaders need to look after themselves just as much as they look after others. It’s so important to be present if you and your team’s motivation has gone AWOL.

I work with business leaders and their teams on their resilience, motivation and productivity. Do get in touch if you need a little winter motivation or leadership support.