HR specialist and Forward Ladies member Tracy Carpenter shares tips on how to shake off the post-holiday blues and give your team the encouragement they need to make the most of the last quarter.
Just before her interview with the Forward Ladies team, the HR expert Tracy Carpenter had met with a client for a one-to-one. Her client, who has his own business, was finding it difficult to pick up the pace after the holidays.
“He said they’re all a bit jaded, they’ve come back and it’s just really hard,” said Tracy.
After a year-and-a-half of living through the pandemic and the difficulties of travelling abroad, she said a lot of her clients were experiencing the same feelings of exhaustion.
“September is normally a fresh beginning but this year I feel that we’ve not had that proper downtime,” she said.
“The price of holidays in this country has probably meant people have gone for shorter breaks or might not have done as much as they want to. People are just not as well rested.”
CHECKING IN WITH YOUR TEAM IS VITAL
Knowing that colleagues are likely to be feeling the strain, Tracy said it was important to speak to team members to find out how they are.
She said that people in business sometimes seek a one size fits all solution but it was better to tailor an approach to individual team members.
“People over-complicate things sometimes,” she said. “For me, it’s checking in with people on a one-to-one basis. There’s no one motivator that works for everybody.”
If a team is too large for this to happen, Tracy said it was important to have people to whom you can delegate.
“You need to have team leaders or supervisors you can put your trust in to do the job for you.”
Tracy stressed that it doesn’t matter if your team is still working remotely, has returned to the office or you’re operating with a combination of the two – it’s still vital to keep communication channels open.
WHAT NEXT? HOW TO ACT ON WHAT YOU LEARN
Once you’ve met with your team and found out how they are, Tracy said the next step was to find a successful strategy to motivate them.
Money isn’t a good motivator, she said, which was something that people often found surprising
“They say, I wouldn’t go to work if it wasn’t for the money. But once you give somebody a pay rise or a bonus, within a couple of days it’s become the norm, it’s forgotten about.”
Instead, setting appropriate targets and offering rewards could work well.
“One person might be extremely motivated by being challenged, being set quite tight time deadlines and being pushed,” she said.
A reward, such as a week’s sabbatical leave, could be offered if the target was met.
Such an ambitious challenge wouldn’t work for everyone she added: “Other people might be pushed over the edge by that level of targets.
They might be more motivated by having targets they can deliver over a longer period and having more of a ‘Steady Eddie’ approach.”
The goals don’t have to be related to sales figures or cost savings but could be about anything that’s important in the business.
But Tracy cautioned that in a post-pandemic workplace, a softly-softly approach was likely to yield results, rather than laying down the law.
WHEN AND HOW TO MAKE THE CHANGES
Whatever approach you take with your team, Tracy said that the goals or objectives must be clear and a reasonable time frame should be set.
“It doesn’t have to be a year, a year is just a ridiculously long time for me. You need to be sitting down at the end of September and say where are we going to be at the end of the year? You need to be pushing yourselves on and moving forward.”
Tracy said that this approach would prevent an unfocused drift towards Christmas, during which the business could lose valuable momentum.
She recommended sharing a clear mission statement: “You need to say, it’s not over, it’s not something we can’t pull back. Let’s really put some focus on this last one-third of the year, so we end on more of a high than we were expecting.”
ABOUT TRACY CARPENTER:
Tracy is the founder and owner of Mint Human Resources, which offers friendly, no-nonsense, outsourced HR support to SMEs across Yorkshire and the North, to help them get the best from their employees.
A chartered member of professional body the CIPD, Tracy has worked in HR for organisations including Yorkshire Water, First Direct, and he British Library. Find her at mint-hr.com
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