It’s Q4 and if you work at an agency, that means it’s chaotic. You’re wading through new business prospects and trying to serve your existing client base. Your clients are trying to sort through strategic planning, contract renewals and resetting expectations for the new year. You and your team need each other more than ever to get through this busy time. How do you keep your team motivated to do stellar work when juggling chainsaws? Here are four tips to keep in mind:
Lead by example
As the manager, your team members look to you as the barometer for how to feel when a situation becomes difficult. There will be times when you want to pull your hair out and scream at the top of your lungs. That’s ok – go ahead, just not publicly and not in front of your team. This should go without saying but at times of high stress and emotion it can be difficult to stay in the present moment and remember your audience. This isn’t to say that you should start behaving in a disingenuous manner or pretend that everything is awesome. Count to ten, take a minute, go outside if you can and ground yourself. If things are difficult, acknowledge it – but move on. Dwelling on the negative will bring down those around you and hinder productivity and creativity. Which leads to the next point…
Focus on what you can control
It sounds so simple but is perhaps one of the hardest things in life one can do. If things feel like they are spinning out of control around you it’s easy to get swept up. You likely cannot single-handedly solve everyone’s challenges. Instead focus on what you can do. Help the team generate the polished reports and make sure all correspondence is clear, concise and professional. Take time for continual training and professional development, even if it’s only a few minutes.
Know your limitations and be realistic
You are only human. I know, in a world of automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning this can be a scary revelation. One of my mentors once told me, “they key to happiness is managing expectations.” This has stuck with me for years and for good reason. With all the technology we have available, we still have limits to what we can do in a single day – and this is important to remember. If it’s 9pm and you or your team are struggling through a task, ask yourself if it needs to be completed right that minute or can you attack it tomorrow with a fresh perspective. Burning yourself and your team out is counterproductive. Don’t be afraid to ask for extensions from your clients. Consider revenue sharing and cross-teaming.
Celebrate even the smallest wins
Did the team get a “thank you” email back from a persnickety person? Did the team finish a task before a deadline? Did the team’s content get re-shared on social? Did the team hold a 60 min meeting in 20 mins? Did everyone make it through the day? Big or small – take a few moments to celebrate the small wins. You don’t need to pop champagne for everything but reminding the team that they are doing a great job will go a long way in keeping them motivated.
At the end of the day, you and your team are just that – a team. When the going gets tough you need to come together and raise each other up. Take notice of who is struggling and make sure they don’t fall behind. Ask people how they are doing. Remind people to say “please” and “thank you” to each other. We’re all in this together.
Director, Marketing Technology