How To Keep Your Team (And Yourself) Motivated During Hard Times

It’s easy to stay motivated when an idea is new, you’re new, and things are going well -- but what about when you’ve been at it for a while, and you and your team are struggling? How can you stay motivated and keep morale up when long hours, budget cuts, rejections or other setbacks happen?

In any business industry, an organization does not reach its full potential without going through a period of difficulties in its timeline. Regardless of size, all teams are bound to experience variations of what we call “growing pains.”

5 Ways To Motivate Team Despite Struggles.

In a leadership role, one of your most meaningful tasks is to keep the organization stronger than its challenges. Here are five ways to keep your team (and yourself) motivated when the going gets rough.

1. Delegate and support. 

When times are hard and the business is slow, creative members of the team will rise to the occasion. Listen to your team. Keep an eye out for members who are ready to go the extra mile, to rethink your strategies and offer solutions. Mentor them.

Delegate important tasks and show your support. By doing so, you will lift the team’s morale even when business is slowing down. They will see that you value their contribution, recognize their efforts and believe in their abilities. On top of that, you distribute the weight on your shoulders. You have more time to study the big picture and develop new strategies.

2. Do something new together.

It’s easy to stay motivated when an idea is new and full of promise. Once you have gone far beyond scratching the surface, reality settles. What was once a new idea has become exhausting. It comes in a maze and the obstacles are overwhelming.

At this point, the team begins to lose its fire. To recover and recreate positive energy among team players, try something new together. It could be going to a karaoke bar, trying out a fun sport, or simply dining together.

Take two steps back from work to re-energize. Remind yourself and your team that all hope is not lost. You just need a break together.

3. Simplify.

Small tasks could easily get complicated when someone is obsessing over the process. Do one small thing that you can easily accomplish. Do it with your team. It will encourage self-confidence and convince the team that together, you have what it takes to move forward.

Do another simple tasks until you are ready to revisit the big issues. Sometimes, all the distraction you need is an easy work-related task and the feeling of having accomplished something. Encourage your team to think of simple, straightforward solutions that could help you move forward. Show them you have faith that you are in the right direction; you just need to beat a hurdle.

4. Kill the tension with a smile.

When coping with overtime and all-nighters, budget cuts, rejections or other setbacks, tension inevitably builds to dangerous levels. Kill this tension with warmth.

Give your team a reason to smile despite a stressful situation. A heartfelt compliment can easily lift one’s spirit. Be generous with sincere compliments. It can go a long way.

5. Focus on gratitude.

Talk to your team about the things you can still be grateful about in spite of the challenges at work. Express your gratitude for their support and cooperation. The feeling of being valued can spark the flow of positive energy in the group.

A pay increase is the quickest way to boost a worker’s morale. However, when you are in a position where this is not possible, you have to actively try different ways to keep your team motivated.

According to Bruno S. Frey, a renowned pioneer in the fields of Political Economy and Happiness Economics, intrinsic rewards, such as satisfaction at doing a good job and a sense of doing something worthwhile can be stronger motivators. CEOs and human resource specialists would tell you the same thing based on their experience.