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A. Miniotaitė on leadership in the time of crisis: people need a behaviour scenario and a plan

A. Miniotaitė. 6 steps to increase employee motivation during quarantine

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At the moment, many people are experiencing anxiety, uncertainty about the future, while safety is one of the basic human needs. The natural reaction to danger is to run, freeze, or fight. It is exactly what we see: some are getting immersed in TV shows (a great way to escape from depressing thoughts), others are waiting for the resolution of the situation, as if in a trance, the rest are taking action: making decisions, creating, acting (making sure they have enough food and protective masks), and maybe are dealing with business challenges – they fight.

During this period, in the organisations, most of which work remotely, we can see the employees that managers can rely on (fighters) and those who, unfortunately, do not create much value – they have simply disappeared somewhere. The managers describe this state of helplessness as follows: “You want to reach the employee, connect with them remotely, as if to reach with a kind of virtual hands, but they feel like overcooked pasta: you can’t control anything, can’t do anything to oblige the employees and make them focus.”

On the employee’s part, it is not easy either: they suffer from uncertainty, some have a reduced income, they have to organise the education of their children at home, there is no team to support and kick-start them, yesterday’s vision of the company is no longer valid.

So, what can a manager do to motivate their employees:

1. Communicate regularly

When a team or department gathers every morning at the same time to discuss work, it introduces the rhythm to the employees. Some employees say that the rhythm is one of the motivators to help stay productive. At the same time, they mention other components of discipline: morning exercise, shower, clothes suitable for work. Therefore, the manager’s task is to keep the employee in a rhythm, to show that life and work go on.

2. Draw a map

In general, managers are more interested in economic, social and business news than their employees. The managers face greater challenges, therefore, they have more knowledge and a better view of the broad picture. Sometimes managers might think that employees understand and see everything the way they do, but it is not true. It is the manager’s responsibility to draw a full map of the situation for the employees during the crisis: what competitors are doing now, what customers are doing, what experts are predicting, what product demand is likely in the future, how companies in the same sector are behaving in other countries. This can also be done with a team, incorporating everyone’s vision and knowledge.

3. Identify the scenarios

The next important step is to identify pessimistic, realistic and optimistic scenarios. People want to know what awaits them. Even the worst case scenario doesn’t look so bad when it is identified. We are all able to adapt and find a way out. The employees must be able to try on shoes in all scenarios and to come to terms with them. It gives a sense of safety and clarity, no need to waste time on fear and fantasies.

4. Clearly identify the goal during the crisis

The previous long-term goals are no longer valid. The crisis has pulled the rug from under the feet, so in this situation it is necessary to name a new goal for the crisis: to survive, to survive by earning a certain income, to retain a certain number of customers and employees, or maybe to grow a little? A clear goal allows a person to personally connect with the company, to see that we are striving for the same thing, that we have the same common goals. Motivation occurs only when a person’s personal and organisational goals coincide.

5. Talk to everyone in person

For many managers, the extent of work during the crisis increased rather than decreased. So, it is only natural that a manager who is stuck in tasks, administrative and technical problems does not have time to communicate with everyone. It is important to note that the employee does not currently see how much work the manager has to deal with. Sitting alone at home, he may feel forgotten and needless. Therefore, a 15-20 minute interview with each employee is mandatory. We will find out how the employee feels, what thoughts he has, what his plan is, and at the same time, we will be able to personally agree on the employee’s involvement in tasks that are important to the company at the moment.

6. Plan how you will celebrate the end of quarantine

A sweet feeling and a vision of a celebration – how we will be able to enjoy each other and that we have survived and grew stronger – supports and gives hope and strength. It seems to be near at hand.

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