How to re-engage your team during bad times

In the last weeks, I had many conversations with CEOs and Senior Leaders, and all shared the same frustration… Their teams are disengaging. And fast. They all noticed:
  • Less participation in staff meetings
  • Bad mood and negative thoughts across their teams
  • Less motivation
  • Poor response to team activities that were working fine before
It’s clear that something changed in the last month and it’s inevitably the consequence of the new restrictions due to Omicron. But there must be more under the surface.  If employees feel fatigued and lack of energy already at the beginning of a new year, something else is going on.  I believe Omicron has just resurfaced existing problems that were temporarily put aside. If this is the case, organizing more online team meetings or funny games won’t help your people to re-engage. At least, not so easily. If you want to re-engage your employees, I recommend going back to basics and introducing some more creative ideas. Based on my experience working with teams, there are five steps that will certainly help your people to re-engage with the business and your company:
  • Talk to your people individually
Teamwork is important for rebuilding motivation and engagement, but the starting point is not that. It’s having one-to-one meaningful conversations with your employees.  There is a high chance they won’t open up fully in group meetings.  So take the time to have routine check-in individual meetings with your team without talking about business (see next point). Some words of caution though. Don’t have one-to-one conversations only with those you think are disengaged. Do it with everyone. For two reasons: one because it’s fair, second because disengagement is contagious.
  • Ask the right questions during these meetings
These check-ins are not designed for business updates. The goal of these meetings is to understand better the aspirations, goals, and passions of your employees. This is important because there are many potential reasons why people disengage so just guessing is a wrong strategy.  Most likely, you’ll realize that they lost motivation because:
  • they’re doing something too different from what they like or want to do
  • they’re working too hard for something that has a marginal impact
  • they’re not appreciated enough
  • they’re not developing their career or learning enough
Your job is to understand what’s going on under the surface and allow them to open up. And please, no judgment. Just hear them out and let them feel safe to tell you exactly what is bothering them.
  • Give them a project to launch
Once you understand better their aspirations and expectations, a nice thing to offer them is the opportunity to launch their project. This will boost their energy immediately. To choose the right project, I recommend giving them full autonomy to design the best possible project based on your expected outcome. Also, it has to be a project that will potentially make a huge impact on the business (more sales? new client solutions? International expansion? you get the gist).  Don’t micromanage them and make sure they take 20% of their standard working hours for that. This is not a side project to run after hours!
  • Involve them in strategy
I strongly believe employees must be part of the company’s strategic planning process. In my experience, they’re not heard enough, and many leaders prefer to outsource the brainpower rather than involve their employees in the process. Having run and facilitated many strategic planning processes for my clients, I can tell you what you potentially miss by not involving them:
  • You don’t develop the brainpower and strategic thinking of your people
  • You miss insights coming from those who deal with clients every day
  • You let them feel useless or valueless
If you’re not running strategic planning for the entire company, make sure you involve them in the strategy definition of their departments or functions. It’s a good start for letting them feel appreciated and valuable.
  • Run a retreat
Finally, don’t underestimate the impact of running team retreats to bring the mojo back. Retreats are not designed for business. They’re designed to help teams to recharge batteries, reconnect with the vision of the business, align with the goals, and feel more engaged. How to do it? Last December, I run and facilitate a virtual team retreat for a client and I designed it by bringing a combination of problem-solving exercises, fun games, and a motivational speech.  Result: people said they felt so well after the retreat and were ready to hit the new goals. So, if you feel you’re losing your team behind, the biggest mistake you can do right now is to procrastinate and make no decisions. Sitting and waiting is going to hit hard on you and your company. Follow these five steps and I can assure you’ll re-engage your people. Remember… There is no or little engagement when people lose their motivation. Focus on motivation and you’ll get your team back. Listen to the podcast linked to this article:     
Subscribe to the Newsletter


Insider strategies in your inbox every Thursday