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  • 30 April 2015
  • Dr. Billy M.

Charge up your motivation during a slower business season

Your business, just like any other regardless of industry or type, will inevitably experience a slower season characterized by low sales and activity. Motivation can be a difficult commodity during these times, marking a sharp downturn in productivity.

Motivating a sluggish team

Motivated employees are vital for success in business. Your strategy should balance the two categories of motivation likely to influence your employees: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsically motivated people are characterized by a personal desire to learn, grow, and master a skill, founded on the belief that it is possible to attain individual goals by pursuing an activity. On the other hand, with extrinsic motivation, an employee's drive to accomplish a given activity will depend on positive factors such as financial reward, social acceptance, or a pat on the back, or the threat of negative consequences such as punishment, delayed promotion, or loss of privileges.

When is the last time you looked at your business plan?

There are a number of ways to keep your staff motivated, starting with maintaining a to-do list that keeps staff busy and engages their varied skills to add value to your company. In addition, try the following:

  • Maintain a positive mind-set. During slower days, it is easy for staff to settle if you as the business owner work remotely or operate by proxy. Stay present, upbeat, and busy to motivate staff. Set an example for employees, maintaining work discipline and a healthy working environment where they feel appreciated. This will communicate to employees that you are positive, focused, and in the right mind-set. A positive mind-set is contagious and will motivate staff to stay productive.
  • Grow your team. Invest in employee training to avoid having a group of people idling around. Hire a programmer, industry specialist, or management consultant during the slow season for your team's career growth. Send them to workshops, seminars, conferences, and online events. You can also support your team via in-house training on time management and prioritization before the busy season strikes. Encourage discussion on how employees can use their time more efficiently. Depending on your business, give your staff a training needs assessment to identify knowledge and skills gaps, then cross-train them so you have a more flexible and adaptable workforce. This way you are better placed to move personnel and accommodate changing business conditions or future staff shortages.
  • Spruce up your business image. Now is the time to make your brand shine.
  • Set goals and milestones. When is the last time you looked at your business plan? This is a living document, and the slower season affords you the opportunity to evaluate the state of your company vis-à-vis your stated goals. Revise and update as necessary, based on your progress so far. Keep measurable and realistic goals to facilitate tracking progress toward their achievement. And if you have stayed on plan, reward yourself. As you update, build incentives into your goals to keep staff motivated.
  • Examine your online presence. Ensure what the world sees and reads is a true representation of your company. Start with your website and ensure the information is accurate and updated. Move on to your business social media pages and revamp them to reflect your vision and intended goals. You will be pleasantly surprised how fulfilling and invigorating a relaunched Web presence feels.
  • Allow flexible hours. Loosen the nine-to-five schedule to afford your employees the opportunity to work flexible hours, and you will earn their appreciation while ensuring they stay motivated. For instance, provide them with more personal and family time by extending their weekends with shorter Fridays. Discuss your willingness to grant days off. Such breaks give employees time to recharge so they can be energized and maintain peak performance for the coming week's activities or busier times ahead.
  • Celebrate. Dabble in a spot of frivolity, be it a reflection and appreciation for what the business has achieved or the celebration of an employee's significant day. Remembering birthdays with surprise gifts or hosting anniversary parties for those who have been with your company one year or longer makes them feel special, keeping morale high. The goodwill emanating from such activity will keep staff motivated.
  • Volunteer your services. Identify organizations and services in your community that align with your company's social agenda and lend a hand. Reach out to those you are passionate about and discuss how you can assist in terms of time and other resources. Your time commitment should coincide with your work hours, not weekends or employees' days off.

Employees will feel more attached to your business if they stay motivated during the slower season. To maintain employee motivation, strike a balance between activities aimed at boosting staff morale, and activities designed to productively engage them.

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