How to Help Your People Find Motivation During Challenging Times

Stacey Ashley Blog

How to Help Your People Find Motivation During Challenging Times

I was working with Linda earlier this week. And she was telling me how frustrated she is that she can’t seem to motivate her team. They are struggling with being in lockdown again, they are overwhelmed with work and priorities, not terribly engaged and really just not motivated.

She shared that she has tried so many things to motivate them and she just can’t get them energised and accountable.

Well, the thing is, it is not your job to motivate people. It is your job to create the conditions in which people can become motivated, and to help your people develop the skills so that they can motivate themselves.

It is challenging at the moment. We have this ongoing level of uncertainty about our world. So it can become hard for people to keep operating in peak performance, at their peak energy. So I am revisiting some tips from the field of positive psychology and the science of happiness at work.

The focus in this field is on each person creating and supporting their own positive mindset so that they are equipped to cope with the highs and lows that life and work bring.

Right now, that is exactly what we have, highs and lows.

Some people love working from home, some people do not.

Some people love working in the office, some people do not.

So there are different highs and lows for everyone.

And when you don’t have the right equipment to support your self to cope with these highs and lows, it’s like trying to row a boat with a teaspoon…you make very little progress.

If you can equip your team with skills, tools and strategies they can tap into when they need them, this will enable them to feel more in control of their own world, more able to support themselves, and their own levels of engagement and motivation. You are effectively helping them to understand how they can bring out their own best. There is a higher degree of personal accountability involved, so it does not all fall to the leader. This leads to a more positive mindset, higher productivity, and performance overall.

Did I mention you can employ these strategies for yourself too?

The 5C’s

The five key principles, the 5C’s, are drawn from the Science of Happiness at Work, developed by the iOpener Institute based in the UK.


CONTRIBUTION – This is what people do every day.

How you can help your people:

  • Encourage your team members to share their achievements with others so that they can be recognised.
  • Be sure to celebrate wins and progress, even if you are in a WFH situation create the opportunity to share the celebration across the team.
  • Suggest your team members share their wins with people outside work…family and friends.

CONVICTION – This is short-term motivation.

How you can help your people:

a. An individual’s motivation is impacted by their feelings of Competence, Connectedness and Choice.

  • The idea here is to help your people leverage their strengths, the things that energise them and bring them strength in their work.
  • If they need to work on something which isn’t a strong point, perhaps there is someone else who can collaborate with them or help them. Or maybe this activity can be outsourced.
  • Ensure team members continue to focus on their own development and growing their competence. You can help by making sure development plans are in place and implemented.

b. Do your team members feel in control of their daily activities?

  • One of the most powerful things someone can do for their sense of being in control is to own their diary and proactively control it. What they do, and when they do it.
  • How can you support them to take control of this aspect of their working process?

c. Ensure there is a focus on keeping relationships active and networks nurtured.

  • There has been significant reduction in the feeling of connectedness across teams and between teams and their leaders over the past 12+ months.
  • What can you do to do encourage the connection, to foster relationships?

‘The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.’

Oprah Winfrey

CULTURE – This is the feeling of ‘fitting in.’

a. Do your people relish their jobs and work?

  • If the answer is yes…they should do more.
  • If not, then ask them how they can take responsibility for modifying some aspects. Again, the focus here is on using strengths and the things which energise each individual.

b. Focus on providing positive reinforcement.

  • Building people up, rather than knocking them down helps to create a feeling of fit.
  • You can help by taking notice when things go right.

COMMITMENT – This is a person’s long-term engagement to their role and work.

a. The happiest people, those who achieve their potential, are those who believe they make a difference.

  • Do your team members feel like they make a difference?
  • How connected is the work they do with the purpose of the organisation?
  • If the work isn’t connected to the purpose, then what needs to change?
  • What do they need to do more off?
  • What do they need to do less of?

b. Do they feel strong bursts of positive emotion? This is the feel-good factor!

  • Help people identify which things create this feeling. Then have then do more of that.

‘Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.’

Zig Ziglar

CONFIDENCE – This is about having a sense of belief in yourself and your career.

Confidence is about getting things done – the sense of achievement.

a. You can help your people to focus on getting the right things completed. The more important things that will make a difference to them, to the team and to the organisation.

b. Does your team member believe in themselves and their abilities?

  • Remind them of what they have achieved.
  • Have them ask others to remind them of all they are capable of, and what their strengths are.

So how do you put this into action?

One strategy is to coach your line managers to then coach your team members, to help them recognise the role they play in creating their own outcomes – and recognise that they can make a difference for themselves.

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For instance, a staff member who feels underappreciated and undervalued may come to the conclusion that the organisation doesn’t care about its people.

You might help that individual realise that they thrive on feedback as it builds up their confidence, but when they’re not getting any feedback, they feel like the organisation is terrible at communicating and showing appreciation.

Yet if the employee knows they need positive feedback in order to perform at their best, then you can encourage them to go out there and get some feedback themselves. You need to help them to identify the resources they have within themselves by asking, ‘What else do you need to be able to do your best or achieve your best?’

Helping people to take responsibility for their own motivation and equipping them to do so opens up a world of opportunity for you, as well as helping you all to cope with the highs and lows of everyday life and work.

I’d love to know your thoughts.

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THE COACHING LEADER™ - ORIGIN : Sydney 14 Aug, Brisbane 21 Aug, Online 27-28 Aug - With Stacey Ashley & Sarah Derry – Early Bird Individual & Group