Four ways to keep your team motivated during COVID-19 (and beyond)
It’s no surprise that many of us are feeling tested and stretched – after all, children’s services have kept their doors open since the very start of the pandemic. This time has taken an emotional toll on educators, with many feeling undervalued, overwhelmed and just plain tired.
So how can we, as leaders, continue to motivate our teams?
- Focus on gratitude
The effects of gratitude have been studied extensively over the past 20 years. Positive psychology scholar Dr Robert Emmons has focussed on the link between gratitude and motivation. His research shows that people feel motivated and energised when they experience gratitude. So how can you boost gratitude in your service?
After you acknowledge Country at team meetings, take a moment to acknowledge each other. Encourage each team member to share something another colleague has done that they’re grateful for or deserves a shout-out.
Create a gratitude wall in your foyer. Anytime you receive a thank you card or positive email from a family, or simply when you have something you want to celebrate with your team, display it for all to see.
Remember to acknowledge the little things. As a leader, you can connect with your team by being physically present and taking the time to acknowledge those small, but important, things staff do every day.
- Make communication a two-way street
When it comes to great leadership, listening is as important – if not more important – than speaking. Touch base with your team regularly and make sure you take the time to listen to their concerns, worries and queries.
Transparency is the bedrock of workplace trust, so be clear and upfront with the decisions that you make, ensure your team hears about them directly from you, and take on their feedback when practicable. While time is a challenge in any education and care setting, regular opportunities for connection will improve teamwork and support staff to feel heard and understood.
Not sure where to start? Try this:
A set ‘open office’ time once a week (virtual or in-person), so your team know you will be 100% available to have a chat or discuss a concern.
Regular monthly catch-ups scheduled with each team member. Spending time in the rooms working alongside your team and having incidental conversations.
Don’t forget that every team member is different. Discuss with them what type of communication is best.
- Make your QIP your secret weapon
Your QIP is a great tool to keep staff motivated and on track. A clear QIP that’s been developed collaboratively will ensure your whole team is on the same page and moving in the one direction.
Break your QIP down into realistic goals and strategies, and make sure every team member is given tasks and actions that draw on their strengths and knowledge.
Remember to celebrate small wins. When a task or action has been completed, talk about it at your team meeting, put a notice in your service newsletter or ask a team member to share the news at a committee meeting.
When you finally achieve a big picture goal in its entirety, make sure you do something special to celebrate!
- Supercharge your staff
Development opportunities are a simple but effective way of keeping your team feeling valued. And when people feel valued they are more likely to feel motivated and connected to their workplace.
Take the time to talk to each team member about their goals and how you could support their learning – either through professional development or with a new role/responsibility that will build their skills.
Create individual learning plans for each team member and remember to re-visit these regularly.
Most importantly, invest in your staff. When developing your yearly budget, think and aim big when it comes to how much you can invest in this area. Professional development not only helps your service perform better, but it also shows your team that you value them and their career development.
Remember, COVID-19 is a marathon, not a sprint. While our teams have a really important and difficult job, we can support them to go the distance. So let’s do what we can to keep them connected and in positive spirits – not just this week but for the challenging months to come.
This article has been adapted from an interview published in the Spring 2020 edition of Roundtable magazine, and has been adapted with author permission.
The original article will be made available on the archive section of the CCCA website, and can be accessed here in future.