‘Quiet August’ is as much of a myth today as the three-martini lunch. The market is picking up and September’s demands are looming – time to knuckle down. Easier said than done with half the workforce on holiday and the other half wishing they were too. Leaders who create positive energy will beat the heat and keep the wheels turning through summer and beyond.
1. Start with why.
Feeling like your work is pointless is a fast-track to mentally checking out. Explain first not what needs to happen or how, but why. Paint a picture of the ideal outcome using rich details that your team care about: how will it help them develop or solve a frustrating niggle?
2. Show you care.
Emotions are contagious; if you’re genuinely excited, other people will be too. But keep it authentic. Whatever your style – shouting from the rooftops or quiet insistence – dial up your passion. Use positive, decisive and engaging language to fire up the subconscious of those around you.
3. Be present.
Don’t expect other people to devote their attention if you’re mentally elsewhere. Tune in to the clues about your team’s energy levels, however subtle – are people overworked, enthralled, distracted, bored? By picking up on these signals you’ll know how best to restore energy, and your team will feel that you’re on their level.
4. Affirm others.
Positive emotions spark creativity and lead to positive upwards spirals, lifting the entire team. Go beyond cursory feedback and show that you value people. ‘Microaffirmations’ – smiling, nodding, acknowledging contributions – are just as important as larger gestures like seeking opinions and increasing autonomy.
5. Recognize progress.
According to Harvard Business School research, helping people see the progress they’ve made is the single best thing managers can do to improve the way their team feels about work. It’s easy to feel motivated at the start of something; energy flags when we reach the difficult ‘dip’ in the middle. Notice, communicate and celebrate even the smallest steps forward.