general newsletter

Engaging and Motivating your Team During a Crisis – Sector Leadership Spot

June 15, 2020

By H. Art Taylor, President & CEO of BBB Wise Giving Alliance

As President & CEO of BBB Wise Giving Alliance, I thought it important to stay connected to sector leaders to stay abreast of how they are managing during this highly unusual time. To do so I recently hosted a “Coffee with Colleagues” Zoom session on the topic of Engaging and Motivating your Team During a Crisis. During this insightful chat, participants shared some great ideas that they are trying out to keep their teams motivated.

For many people, working from home can be stressful, many employees find that they are less productive and more easily distracted. However, working from home during times when options for recreation or rejuvenation are so limited can be especially challenging. Even as some business reopen, remote work still is the norm for many individuals, and that may continue to persist for a while.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the discussion:

  1. Use this time to really connect to your mission. An organization’s mission is the cornerstone that drives the entire team and it is very important, especially during this crisis, to remember why we are doing what we are doing and let that guide us.
  2. Many organizations are establishing new practices to streamline their activities and become more organized. So, this might be a great opportunity to introduce new ways of doing things that will ultimately lead to a dismantling of some pre-COVID processes.
  3. Zoom meetings with the entire team are sometimes inevitable, but we must also remember that one-on-one connections between people are also important. Encourage your team members to work one-on-one with other members. Fostering collaboration and finding new connections could be just what some people need to get through this crisis.
  4. Establishing rituals, especially mindfulness-based rituals, can make your team more productive and your team meetings more enjoyable for everyone.
  5. A great idea is to incorporate “silent work” hours during which team members can be on Zoom together doing their individual work and not really interacting much, except when necessary. This will recreate the office environment but in a less intrusive manner.
  6. Just as it’s important to highlight the wins, it’s also very important to celebrate the misfires, no matter how big or small. So, the next time someone’s kids come running into the room to interrupt the call or someone’s cat decides to say hi, let’s celebrate it and just take a moment to acknowledge that we are all just doing the best we can.
  7. Give people space for their emotions. Allow your team members to be vulnerable by acknowledging their emotions and making sure that you provide a safe space where everyone is comfortable sharing how they feel and where they know that it’s okay if they are emotionally drained or overwhelmed. Also. when leadership expresses vulnerability, other team members might be more inclined to open up about their own issues.
  8. Encourage your team to take a break. Maybe go out and take a walk (while wearing a mask and social distancing).
  9. While weekly zoom lunches, coffee chats, and happy hours are very popular methods these days, another great idea is to take group exercise breaks. Share a 30-minute workout session with your colleagues and give them the opportunity to get up, get their blood flowing, and give them a break from staring at the computer screen all day.
  10. If you have many parents at your organization who are finding it difficult to manage their time between their work and kids, then a great idea would be to allow them to create strategy groups with other parents at the organization and come up with a plan that works for everyone. It’s very important for them to know that they have the full support of their leadership and that they shouldn’t feel guilty about taking care of other obligations during the workday.
  11. Stressing the importance of mental health, many of our participants have suggested the “buddy system” where you pair up teammates as buddies who can check in on each other. This can be especially helpful if some of your colleagues live alone. Due to the stigma attached to such issues, many employees might be reluctant to come forward if they are depressed or are experiencing anxiety.
  12. Developing a workplace culture that prioritizes safety will ensure that those who are working from home don’t feel guilty, particularly if they have colleagues on the frontlines interacting with clients directly.

If there’s one silver lining to this crisis, it’s that this situation has provided organizations with the incentive to think outside the box and introduce changes which bring the team closer. These lessons will prove to be extremely valuable even during the post-COVID period, so we must seize the momentum and make the most of these extraordinary circumstances.

Art Taylor is the President and CEO of BBB Wise Giving Alliance and serves on the National Assembly Business Services Board of Directors that oversees PurchasingPoint.