This year has been tough, many of the things that we planned to do personally and within our businesses and careers haven’t come to fruition. And for a lot of people, the culture of our organisations has changed. With the changes and fear that the pandemic has created, a lot of leaders of organisations have resorted to a tell and do approach to leadership. As we’re ripped up the rule book, people in your business may have had different opinions about what to do next, and where in a usual environment you would have data to predict what might happen, and time to reflect on which is the best course to take. This year we’ve had to make quick decisions and take fast action that we may not agree with. It’s one of the hardest times to motivate yourself and motivate your team when you feel like don’t have a say in what action you take.
When you’re in the position of working towards a target, but the goal posts move fundamentally, and you’re being told to JUST F***ING DO IT but you may not agree. How do you stay motivated?
Get some perspective
Usually in this situation, emotions are running high. The people telling you what to do are stressed, you’re stressed, your team are stressed. Remember that nobody is trying to do a bad job. Nobody is trying to cause you more work. And nobody is trying to cause you or your team stress. People are trying to do their best in a stressful situation and using the tools, information, judgement and experience that they have. If you’ve voiced your opinion and been ignored, it’s not a personal slight against you. It’s because someone has some different information, and to be honest, they might know better than you. They’re the decision maker for a reason. Or perhaps they don’t know but are trying to align everyone behind one consistent goal rather than have everyone working in different directions.
Action is better than inaction
I’m often reminded of the quote: “The best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing. But the worst thing you can do is nothing.” I can’t remember who said it, but it has stuck in my mind when I’ve been stuck not knowing what to do for the best. Remember that your leaders are probably working with the same thing in mind, and when you’re told to “just do it” it often comes from a place of needing to stop debating and just take some action, even if it’s not quite right. The worst thing you can do is nothing. At least if you do the wrong thing you’ll have learned that it’s the wrong thing and can learn from it. In times of uncertainty often there is endless debate about what should be done, and sometimes leaders have to make a decision so that everyone can move forward. Ironically, they are trying to motivate you towards a common goal, even though it may not feel like it.
Manage the risks
So you don’t think the action that you’re taking is right, but you’re doing it anyway because you’ve been told to. Actually, your perspective in this is really worthwhile because your scepticism about the situation is useful. If you’re right, and it doesn’t work, what could go wrong? You’re one step ahead in terms of looking for potential pitfalls and thinking about safeguards to put in place or how you could quickly fix the problem after the event. Use your energy to think of quick corrective action that could be taken if everything starts going south rather than feeling frustrated that your opinion hasn’t been listened to. Motivate yourself on finding solutions and putting controls in place whilst still working towards the job that you’ve been asked to do.
It’s hard to stay motivated when you aren’t in control of the direction that you’re being asked to take. But sometimes thats what we have to do. If you can rationalise the decision based on the above then you can find a nugget of positivity that you can cling to for your own motivation and share with your team to improve theirs.
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