How to motivate your team when people keep stopping

Maintaining good morale and commitment is an integral part of strong leadership. When you have turnover in your team, it is especially imperative that you take steps to keep your team positive and motivated. Research showed that due to social contagion, when a colleague quits, it can spread and affect the quitting behavior of other employees. In other words, when someone leaves your team, it increases the likelihood that others will do the same.

With that in mind, here are six strategies to keep your team motivated when someone quits:

Create dry land.

The human brain was not built for the degree of uncertainty we face at work and in our lives, write social psychologist Heidi Grant and EY Americas director of learning Tal Goldhamer. With ever-evolving changes in the business landscape, customer and employee expectations, working arrangements, and an uncertain end to the pandemic, it can feel like the ground is continually shifting beneath our feet. This uncertainty produces a state of threat in the brain, which can lead to decreased motivation, cooperation, self-control, and general well-being. Your team turnover only adds to this state of threat.

To counter this, create certainty for your team wherever you can. If you don’t intend to leave the company, make it clear. You might say, “Just so you know, I’m not leaving. I’ll be there for you.”

Or, if your team is looking to clarify the strategic direction of the business and you also have questions about that, instead of saying something like “I’m sure we’ll find out soon,” provide certainty to the process. letting your team know your plan to seek the answer and a specific date when you’ll be back.

This will help create firmer ground and a sense of stability for your team members.

Solicit feedback to assess individual and collective capabilities.

Check in regularly with your team members to understand the work they currently have on their plates. This will give you an idea of ​​both how you might rebalance some of the work between team members and the collective capacity of the team at any given time. If your team is near (or above) capacity and something needs to give, invite the team to help solve the problem and reprioritize. People are motivated when they have a say in creating team goals and what they can and can’t do – and they can come up with great ideas that you might not think of for yourself. same.

Ongoing feedback from your team members can also provide opportunities to help them free up capacity by better understanding what they could delegate to others, or stop doing all together, so they can free up time. for higher value work. Their feedback will also increase your visibility into their workload, which may require you to adjust your expectations of what can realistically be accomplished. It will also help you build a stronger case with your boss for additional resources for your team, given the team’s goals.

Activate autonomy.

​​Once you and your team are aligned on collective goals, allow your team members to decide how, when, and where they complete their work. In a recent study of 5,000 knowledge workers, 59% said flexibility is more important to them than salary or other benefits. With certainty, autonomy is one of the five key threat and reward factors in the brain. When people feel in control and have a choice, they are more motivated and experience greater well-being. Conversely, a lack of autonomy can elicit a strong negative reaction that can diminish the ability to concentrate and collaborate.

In addition to allowing for flexible work arrangements, consider what decisions you can leave to your team members. While some decisions may benefit from your advice, others probably may not. For example, could you allow team members to choose some of the projects they work on or with whom they work? Where you can give your team members autonomy or choice, do so.

Give your team permission to push back.

Let your team members know that it’s okay to say “no” and question deadlines. Invite them to challenge your assumptions and tell you how much work something that “seems simple” will actually take to accomplish.

You will need to give them explicit permission to do so and repeat this message over time. It can be easy for team leaders to lose sight of the power dynamics that can make some people intimidating to speak up, let alone push back. When people do speak up or push back, be sure to listen, acknowledge what you’ve heard, and engage in a two-way conversation (or negotiation) about what can and can’t be done, timelines, and how you can help remove the relevant obstacles for your team.

Failing to grant that permission and create that psychological safety for your team will only cause them to shut up, leading to lower morale and increased burnout, ultimately leading to more people leaving. of team members. By granting this permission, you can also openly acknowledge your shared humanity with your team members – that we all have limits and that burnout serves no one – making it easier for others to let you know if they feel too stretched or overwhelmed.

Protect your team.

While good leaders generally shield their teams from unrealistic or low-priority demands, this is more essential than ever when there are fewer people to support the same workload. Engaging in ruthless prioritization, including quickly sorting out unnecessary or low-value work and pushing back low-priority requests on behalf of your team, is paramount.

Also, give your team clear decision criteria for which requests should be met, and give them the ability to say no to non-essential requests when needed. Be proactive in helping your team members meet demands that your team cannot realistically meet. It can be difficult for your team members to say “no,” especially to more experienced or external stakeholders, and your involvement will show your team members that you have their back. Take the lead, if necessary, in delivering a well-reasoned “no” or “not now” to the stakeholder making the request.

Create a connection.

Taking on big challenges together and knowing that others have your back can lift your spirits. Aim to foster a “we are together” ethos in which team members support each other – which you can both model and reward in others. Ultimately, this can create a esprit de corps or the camaraderie that creates lasting friendships among team members that extend beyond the workplace. According to Gallupfriendships at work increase both productivity and engagement.

Plus, be sure to take the time to connect as a team on a more personal level, whether it’s doing a personal check in at the start of staff meetings, celebrating a team member’s birthday. team, host a team happy hour, or plan a fun party. team building activity. Creating spaces where team members can connect on a personal level is a lever to prevent feelings of isolation that can contribute to burnout. Jennifer Moss shares in her book, The burnout epidemic, that “personal connection is not only good for engagement and happiness at work; that’s what makes us human.

When teammates leave, it’s an opportunity to recalibrate and solidify your foundation as a team to help maintain and even improve the individual and collective morale and performance of team members. Taking the steps above can help mitigate additional attrition and keep everyone motivated and engaged.

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