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9 Different Ways to Think About Boosting Team Morale

The coronavirus’ “new normal” is anything but easy. We’re at a point of pure creation with no policy, precedent, or past practice to fall back on. Loneliness, isolation, and boredom can easily set in and affect team morale—even for those of us still working from home. Add to that the millions of workers being placed on furlough, and you have the potential for some pretty depressing days ahead. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, this forced quiet can help us develop new skills and a higher level of self-awareness and personal growth about who we are and what we stand for.

5 Ways for Managers to Boost Team Morale

If you’re in a formal position to lead and manage others, now’s your chance to shine. Yes, holding remote meetings and check-ins is a new challenge requiring different skills. But think about the opportunity to redefine your leadership brand and add new skills to your resume and LinkedIn profile. Your role at a time like this is to coach and mentor your employees above all else. Ask the following questions or send the following emails to snap people out of their loneliness and get them thinking at a higher level:

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened on a massive scale.

1. What would you like people to say about you once this is all over?

Never let a crisis go to waste. You have the power to define yourself and your future at all times, but never more so than when we’re facing a global challenge like this. And you’ll likely never face anything like this again in your lifetime.  

2. What will you want your narrative sound like?

Crises bring opportunities, but only you can determine what that opportunity is going to look like: Is it an opportunity to excel, to welcome, to include, to empathize, and motivate? Or is it an opportunity to resist, to detract, to oppose, and to exclude?

3. What will the three adjectives be that people use to describe your performance, your behavior, and your overall contribution to the coronavirus challenge?

You are what you consistently do. Your response to challenges will reflect certain qualities and characteristics. Consider how you would want to be described to your own boss, your spouse, or your friends if you aren't sure how you should react in front of your employees.

4. How can you pay it forward?

How can you help others become and remain their personal best at a time like this? In other words, if the whole world followed your lead, would you be happy with where you took it?

5. What can you change about your perspective to make this a more positive experience for yourself and for others?

Remember this timely wisdom: Change your perspective and you’ll change your perception. In other words, if you look at things differently, you’ll experience the effect or the outcome differently.  

4 Ways for Individual contributors to boost team morale

Leadership isn’t management. If you’re an individual contributor and not necessarily managing anyone else in your current position, you’re still responsible for strengthening and honing your leadership skills. And remember, it’s not where you stand on the corporate totem pole title-wise that points to your leadership abilities and talents.   It’s what you’re willing to do, and more importantly, who you’re willing to be at a time like this. When you’re walking a tight rope with no safety net, the pressure can get intense. Let’s face it—some people are very frightened by this virus and its economic aftereffects—and as they say, you don’t always see the best side of people when the ship is sinking and they’re running for the lifeboats.

Still, you’ll rarely get a chance like this again to demonstrate your leadership, communication, and teambuilding skills. Those are the Big 3, and if you see this whole challenge as something that requires your dedicated and focused attention, you’ll be able to rise to the occasion and bring out the best in others as well. Ask yourself:

1. How can I go out of my way to demonstrate goodwill and support of my peers and managers?

2. What kinds of achievements or accomplishments can I garner while working remotely?

3. What kind of outstanding bullet can I add to my annual self-evaluation form when it comes time for my annual review relative to what I achieved during the coronavirus period?

4. Will my schedule allow me to complete a certification program on LinkedIn Learning that will permit me to add a new technical or soft skill to my profile and resume?

It’s up to each of us—managers and individual contributors alike—to decide who we are and who we choose to be at a moment of crisis like this—something we’ll likely never have a chance to do at this level in our lifetimes again. Keep this in perspective, though: coronavirus won’t be our last crisis. What will you have learned, what will you have mastered, during this downturn in our society’s health and in our economy? Are you a better person for it, and have you learned more about yourself and your leadership style based on this combination of remote networking, self-quarantine, and potential loneliness and isolation? View life as an opportunity to define yourself amidst crises like these, and see your career as a chance to influence others and make them better people.

Finally, follow these three wisdoms to help you navigate the trying times ahead, whether related to coronavirus or anything else that may come your way:

  • What you want for yourself, give to another
  • Teach what you choose to learn
  • When in doubt, err on the side of compassion

As it turns out, this crisis will be over before we know, and before too long, it may be a simple blip on our radar screen. What you take from and what you contribute to it, however, can have long-lasting effects on the leader you were meant to be.

Paul Falcone

Paul Falcone (www.PaulFalconeHR.com) is an HR executive in Los Angeles, and the author 101 Tough Conversations to Have with Employees (HarperCollins Leadership, 2nd ed., 2019).

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