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How to Help Your Team Bounce Back

I was recently asked by a team leader how she could help her sales team get motivated again in the midst of this on-going pandemic. Her team is struggling. Like so many, COVID has been tough on business. Everyone is working from home, so they have to change how they communicate with existing clients while trying to earn new business.

In addition, the original goals set for 2020 are daunting. In her case, prospecting is not a strong suit for most of them since they are very seasoned and have been able to rely heavily on established business and relationships. The only way to recover the loss of so much revenue is to drive new business.

The question is, how can we practically move forward? When it comes to your team, you may be asking yourself the same question.

We need our teams to buy in, get motivated, and own their own process. How can we realistically do this?

The Darkness of this Experience

Let’s be honest, this pandemic, the economic downturn, the social injustice, and the political divide are creating complex problems with even more complicated resolutions. And how can we lead when as the leader, we feel just as overwhelmed, stressed, lack motivation and feel powerless against this deluge?

How to Reinvigorate Your Team

Treat your people like they are really depressed and are suffering under impostor syndrome. If you are not familiar with Impostor Syndrome, I would encourage you to take a minute to discover the magnitude that insecurity in the workplace plays into how well your team performs. Right now, with Covid creating so much unknown, so many new expectations and skills being required has left all of us feeling insecure and exposed.

Sometimes, when dealing with depressed people, they can be overwhelmed when asked what they need from you. They may not even know what they need. They just want things to be better or back to what they were, which healthy people realize may not ever happen. This situation requires you to instead clearly articulate what you can offer them.

Here is a practical step-by-step process for refocusing your team on growth and success.

Create A Solid Foundation

Start With Yourself

Take some time to evaluate yourself. First, be positive and identify what you do well, what is important to you, what you have to offer, why you do what you do. Know clearly what makes you who you are. Then identify what makes your family unique, your office unique, your department, your workplace. What makes you unique is marked by your priorities, what really matters to you, and what you consider important. If everything is important then nothing is important. Narrow down what you are and are good at. Ask your friends, family and co-workers what sets you apart as unique, and graciously receive the compliments.

Reestablish Their Foundation

Now do the same for your direct reports. Identify what they are doing well, what characteristics define them and they have solidly nailed down and where they are thriving. Give it words that bring clarity. Be intentional. Take time to discover what genuinely makes them unique and identifies what they have to offer others.

Be honest. Do not lie. Do not falsely flatter. Do not pretend they are better than they actually are. Do not manipulate with half-truths to try to motivate. If you are not honest, they will know it and you will undermine yourself and the process.

Look for the dull and obvious but find what is right and be sure it is true. If there is anything praiseworthy, anything excellent, anything admirable, find it, give it a characteristic that best describes it and start reestablishing their foundation.

This is not a touchy-feely exercise but a genuine necessity. Picture your people as drowning in muck and mire and that they need a firm base, solid rock, and stable ground to recommit themselves to the process.

Slow Down to Speed Up

Help them identify what they have learned during this time of Covid. We have all learned a lot but if we do not put it into words and clearly think it through, the learning will simply pass with time. Be intentional about identifying the value of this hardship.

Next, ask them to decide what they want to do differently as a result. What new goals, habits, priorities, or even changes in mindset would they like to be certain they practice as a result?

Set Smaller, More Attainable Goals.

Go back to the basics we thought we should be able to skip. Overwhelmed people need leaders to firmly but gently set clear, safe, and attainable goals and boundaries. Recognize that the goals set at the beginning of the year may have become obsolete and unreasonable. Revisit and revise expectations out of ourselves and others. Be realistic. Remember SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

If your team is overwhelmed with the goals they have, start with smaller, manageable goals that can be reached in a short amount of time. This small achievement can realistically reestablish personal strength.

Focus On Existing Clients First

Ask your team to start at a place of comfort. Encourage them to reestablish their relationship with their present clientele. They too should not ask their client what they need from them. Instead, know what your team can offer their clients. Think clearly about what you have that could benefit them.

Most muck and mire is made up of obscurity, the unidentifiable, a lack of clarity and understanding. To lift your people and for them to lift their clients out of this quicksand, we must create and speak an illuminating, descriptive language that brings clarity into words.

Take time as a team to define what you know you can offer your clients. What can I use at this time? What has been helpful for others?

It may seem like you are slowing down and going in reverse to spend time focusing on making your existing clients better during this season. But focusing on them, a place that is more comfortable than a new client, will allow your people to see more clearly what clients need and what your team can offer to help them. This will strengthen them to venture out with greater confidence that they have a valuable product for new clients.

Remember, This Feels Uncharted

Think of what you are asking them to do as uncharted. Before COVID, you could have been a bit more ambiguous. Not now. Now you need clear accountability.

As a leader, you must increase your intensity, your involvement, and your communication. Clearer, healthy guidelines, steps, and metrics will be like a ladder out of the abyss. The steps on this ladder are not a one size fits all or even most.

Your job as a leader is to identify what your people need to venture into the unknown. What skills do they need in this remote-work world that they did not need before? What experiences have other employees encountered that they can share with the team?

Offer Naked Truth.

The best way to deal with insecurities and impostor syndrome is what Pat Lecionie calls naked truth. It is creating an environment that allows you to be honest about your own fears, insecurities, and where you believe that if people really knew you, they would realize that you too feel like an impostor at times.

I have found so much value in being honest with my clients. For example, next week I will have my first Zoom meeting. I will do my first remote leadership training. I will open the event with the honesty that I am way behind the curve and although I have practiced using Zoom, I am really expecting that this could be a train wreck.

The honesty is that many of these participants may feel the same way—behind the curve and lacking in these newly needed skills—but we are willfully moving forward. I will thank them for allowing me to learn with them. We must quit pretending we are perfect because as a result, we are increasing the insecurities in our people.

Be Honest With Yourself

If you do not have an environment that you believe is safe enough for you to be honest with the entire team, then I encourage you to find at least one other co-worker or friend that you can honestly share your struggles, inadequacies, and fears with. Saying them out loud may reveal whether or not they are true. Your friend may be able to show you where and what you are doing well and displace the lie and bondage you are living in. Encourage all your team members to find someone to go on the journey with them.

Truth, Empathy and Clear Steps

To move out of this abyss, look at all these suggestions as a ladder. One side of the ladder is solid truth about your character, abilities, and what you can offer; and identifying what is right in your co-workers and what they can clearly offer their clients. The other side of the ladder is emotional intelligence, empathy and right timing. You develop empathy in the process of being honest with yourself and your people and being firm yet gentle in this depressed time. Lastly, the rungs of this ladder are simple, clear, realistic steps filled with common sense, reestablishing foundational truths, and attainable goals. Keep climbing.

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