Innovative Strategies for Today's Needs and Tomorrow's Challenges

How do I keep my team motivated in a time of uncertainty?

How to motivate those who have seen it all…done it all and don’t want to do it again, ever…


With so much change coming at us from so many directions, we may find ourselves paralyzed by the sheer weight of negative information. We are exposed to so much, at such a fast pace, that many of us have become numb, immobile and frankly cynical about the future. Many have either adopted a “whatever”, “It is what it is…” mentality as we wait for the next shoe to drop or spin around in panic-mode.


For those of you who have survived the latest round of layoffs and are now charged with leading other weary colleagues how do you keep yourself and others motivated when it is so important in this challenging economy to be proactive?



…By implementing a motivating and guiding communication strategy



Don’t avoid the challenge of facing a difficult situation head on You can’t overcome what you don’t confront. Don’t hide behind the desk or emails. Be visible. Go directly to those who need to know in order to provide assurance. Share your feelings. Encourage others to speak openly about their fears. This provides an opportunity to address critical issues and concerns in an open forum. Frustration and negativity is infectious. Act with a sense of urgency to nip unproductive dialogue in the bud. Don’t wait until you have ALL the answers. You never will. It is important to respond quickly with information you do know. Present a “we are all working through this together” theme.


Create and deliver a vision of the future state. Where do we hope to be as we venture through new economic territory? Paint the picture in realistic terms. Avoid over-used terminology and “kumbaya” phrases. Let your employees know there is an action plan in place and it’s in motion. Get as specific as possible. Remind them with facts and data that illustrate where we were, where we are and where we want to be once we’ve gone through this transition. Make it an informal presentation and open for questions.

Be accessible and approachable. Your door should be wide open during times of challenge. Understand that change affects everyone in different ways. Don’t be afraid to have an open, honest conversation with individuals who may not express their concerns in a group meeting.


Send consistent messages to communicate the vision. Remind your team that this transition period is an active work in progress. Create and use as many venues as possible to present clear, simple, memorable phrases and positive messages that drive home the vision.


Create a periodic newsletter that frequently focuses on positive changes within the company and provides information on how individuals can prepare for the future. The newsletter should point out related change initiatives that is/has occurred within your industry and throughout the economic community.

Create a simple phrase or phrases that effectively illustrate where you want to be – Stronger…Skilled…Innovative…Green…Community centered, etc. Use these phrases as opening or closing points in regularly scheduled meetings or briefing sessions to point out what is being done on a day-to-day basis to reach this end state. Use them as tags in your emails and meeting agendas. Create banners, posters or an enterprise-wide reward program to recognize those who walk the talk. Keep the message as visual as possible in order to perpetuate the action of movement in a more positive direction.


A positive attitude and optimism goes a long way. There is a lot of doom and gloom out there, so focus on the positive. What we can do and how we can support each other in our own personal change initiatives. For example, if you’ve communicated that we need a more skilled workforce to be competitive in the future. Discuss what training is available and how we can make time to obtain certificates and degrees.


Publicize and reward innovative, out of the box team work that help build and strengthen positive thinking alliances. Acknowledge those who are creatively solving problems that help move the department and the organization forward. Get out the pom-poms; change can be exciting!


Be the change you want to see in others. Take bold action steps. Walk the Talk. Make an extra effort to communicate with everyone at all levels. Dress for action…for success. (Even though the news from wall street may make us want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over our head, we don’t need to walk around looking as though we just rolled out of deep depression sleep). Try something new and talk about it, whether it worked or not. Just the action of attempting something new may propel others to take a risk. Network with others and freely share information. Mentor someone.


Although change and uncertainty may cause us to react unproductively or retreat, business and organizations continue to be in constant movement. So, no matter what changes come our way, we have to continue to march on in order to outpace the competition and be prepared for the next wave.

November 9th, 2011 Posted in Q & A |

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