Motivating Teams Post-Holidays

Rose Scott
January 30, 2019

How do you feel when holidays are over and it’s time to return to work?

A) Are you refreshed, reinvigorated and bursting with enthusiasm as you clock on in the new year?

B) Do you so love holidays that the thought of returning to work fills you with fear and loathing? Or;

C) Do you fall somewhere between, depending on how much you’ve enjoyed your holiday and your current relationship with the workplace to which you are returning?

No matter where you slot into this spectrum, if you are the leader of a work team it is part of your job to hit ‘re-set’ post holidays, to re-harness team energies and to re-focus everyone on your team’s values and objectives.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

If you are feeling a little low yourself, resist the impulse to close yourself away until you are feeling better. Recognise that you are not exceptional – you are as prone as anyone else to sadness if a wonderful holiday with people you love has just finished – but square up and also acknowledge that there are a few things you need to do to effectively fulfil your obligations as team leader.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
– Albert Schweitzer (20th century philosopher, theologian and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize)

It is not your job to oblige team members to be happy any more than you can oblige yourself to be happy if you are not feeling it. But, as the team’s leader, you should work to provide a context in which your team’s potential to enjoy their work is optimised.

What makes for happiness at work?

All current research describes the thirst most of us have to do work which is meaningful. None of us wants to be spending the best part of our day doing things that intrinsically make no sense to us or, worse, feel out of kilter with our personal values. Knowing our purpose and enacting our values are two fundamental ways to create meaning in our lives.

Where we feel the work we are doing is valuable and that, crucially, its value coincides with our personal sense of what’s important, the effort that might otherwise be involved in getting your job done can fall away, teams start to mesh and happiness at work becomes distinctly possible.

A new year offers a symbolic opportunity for renewal

Relax. We are not talking about rituals for the sharing of hopes and dreams or the playing of obligatory ‘team games’.

It is nevertheless true that many of us make resolutions and consider making all sorts of important changes in our lives on the first day of a new year. We share a sense of opportunity and new beginnings at the start of each year.

As team leader, call on this shared sense of potential renewal. Bring your team together at the earliest opportunity; call it a meeting for reconnection. Prepare for the meeting by assembling your company’s vision / mission statement and published values. If your team has previously done work on local values, have the results of that work at hand too.

Ask the following questions, allowing plenty of time for discussion and reflection. Do not insist that everyone participates in the discussions– people have to feel personally motivated.

What is the purpose of our work – our organisation’s mission; our team’s work?

Make sure everyone knows, or is reminded of, the organisation’s declared mission – underline what you are collectively trying to achieve and why it matters. Doing something that makes sense and gives meaning to daily work makes a significant difference to anyone’s experience of happiness at work.

In particular, look at your organisation’s social impact. “Social impact has evolved from a pure public relations play to an important part of corporate strategy to protect and create value. It is a trend driven largely by millennial consumers and enabled by social media tools that have taken accountability and transparency to new heights.” Deloitte research (2015) Driving corporate growth through social impact by John Mennel and Nate Wong.

What does that purpose – that mission, those values, those outputs – mean to you? Do you feel proud when we succeed?

To ask this of team members, you firstly really need to know what these things mean for you personally. Consider this: “your leadership must be rooted in who you are and what matters most to you. When you truly know yourself and what you stand for, it is much easier to know what to do in any situation.” Harry M Jansen Kraemer Jr ‘The only true leadership is values-based leadership’ Forbes (2011)

Facilitate a general discussion where everyone who wants to speak is given the chance.

What is your personal purpose in life? What motivates you? What values and behaviours do you hold most dear?

Do not oblige anyone to announce these to the group – allow time for personal reflection.

What can our company do better in 2019? What can our team do better?

Make a list and take the suggestions seriously. If, as is likely, some of the things on the list are beyond your control – are controlled by senior management or shareholders – nevertheless undertake to pass that feedback through to those who can take action.

What if there is little purpose and poor values?

If none of these things is possible at your place of work – if there is no clear purpose and no consistent set of values intrinsic to the work you do – think about your options. Seriously.

If – despite your best efforts to build a team in which a purpose and a set of values can be shared and help shape a workplace where contributing can be enjoyed – these things simply cannot be achieved at this place and time, start looking for a place where they can be achieved.

Let that be your new year’s resolution.

About Rose Scott

As manager of Worklogic’s Integrity Line service, Rose Scott ensures that people making a workplace complaint are given a calm and secure reception. She also leads Worklogic’s policy development team, helping organisations set the standard for ethical and constructive behaviour at work. Please contact us for an obligation-free, confidential discussion to review and refresh the policies at your workplace.

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