How to Bring Staff Back with Motivation and Purpose: A Guide for a Productive Start to 2024


The Landscape of Current Challenges

How have you felt this year? For many of us, this year has certainly been a testament to our resilience. We’ve faced multiple challenges, from witnessing geopolitical conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, to the global economic downturn and potential threat of a recession.

Factor in predictions of an extreme Australian summer, with cyclones, floods and bushfires, and it’s understandable if you’re feeling overwhelmed. 

Amidst these trials, the role of resilience, motivation and purpose in guiding us through challenging times becomes evident. These elements not only help us navigate difficulties but also turn them into opportunities for growth, much like a tree standing tall after a storm.

The Power of Resilience in Adversity

Resilience, often likened to a protective shield, is a vital life skill that acts as a buffer against adversities. It’s not just about weathering challenges but growing and adapting after facing them. In fact, it’s experiencing challenges that helps fortify our resilience.

Our brains crave stability, and when it’s lacking, we can often find ourselves grappling with procrastination, indecision, or heightened anxiety. 

Did you know that resilience is a learned skill that can be cultivated and honed over time? In the face of challenges, resilience enables us to bend without breaking, and to thrive rather than just survive.

As we approach 2024, reflecting on the resilience we’ve built is crucial. Harnessing this resilience will be key to building motivation and purpose in the coming year.

The Significance of a Positive Beginning                       

Have you ever embarked on a journey of personal or organisational transformation? It’s often paved with the best intentions. Yet, the road to success isn’t just about setting goals, it’s deeply intertwined with the motivation to realise them, as well as receiving consistent, meaningful feedback along the way.

Unpacking Motivation: The Catalyst for Transformation

Motivation: The Fuel for Change 

Motivation propels change, like wind to a sailboat. It's the initial spark that sets things in motion and keeps us going. Consider the routine act of brushing your teeth. As children, our motivation stemmed from our parents or dentist emphasising oral hygiene. Over time, this act transitioned into a habit, executed without the need of any external prompts. 

Similarly, when cultivating a new habit like an exercise routine, motivation gets us started. Success happens when this act seamlessly integrates into our daily routine, independent of the need for any internal or external stimuli.

Understanding Behaviours and Beliefs 

Our behaviours are deeply rooted in our beliefs. Engaging in a particular behaviour triggers our brain to release dopamine, a reward neurochemical, which reinforces the behaviour and associated belief. 

For instance, if someone avoids exercise in favour of relaxation, the brain validates this choice, reinforcing the belief, “I’m not the exercise-type”. How often have we heard or felt this? To cultivate a new habit, it's crucial to challenge and replace these ingrained beliefs with more constructive ones.

The Loop of Constructive Belief Formation 

Crafting a positive belief requires a systematic approach, much like building a house brick by brick. The Loop of Constructive Belief Formation involves the following steps:

  • Identify the goal: Pinpoint your objective, ensuring it doesn't feel like a chore.
  • Understand the motivation: Recognise both intrinsic (personal reasons) and extrinsic (external) motivations. Research by Ayelet Fishbach highlights that intrinsic motivation often trumps extrinsic motivation in predicting success.
  • Engage in the desired behaviour: Act on your goal.
  • Celebrate participation: Applaud your efforts.
  • Reaffirm the constructive belief: Reinforce the positive belief linked to the  behaviour.

What drives you? Take a moment to note what’s driving your motivation for the upcoming year? 

  • Personal growth and learning
  • Team achievements
  • Work-life balance and wellbeing
  • Leadership and mentorship opportunities
  • Other

Redefining Goal Setting: The Shift from SMART to FAST

Traditional goal-setting methods like SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) have been challenged by MIT researchers, Donald Sull and Charles Sull. They propose the FAST method instead:

  • Frequently discussed: Periodically review your objectives.
  • Ambitious: Aim high.
  • Specific: Clearly define how you'll measure success.
  • Transparent: Share your aspirations with others.

Personal Rejuvenation: Strategies for Leaders

Leaders need to work on building their personal resilience to ensure they are in a position to lead by example. There are a myriad of strategies leaders might choose to assist in amplifying their motivation and help prepare for a productive and successful new year:

  1. Self-reflection: Take time to reflect on the past year’s highs and lows. Identify what worked and what didn’t, and set achievable intentions for the coming year.
  2. Digital detox: Designate specific times to connect online to ensure regular screen breaks. This helps rejuvenate the mind and reduces the stress of constant connectivity.
  3. Mindful consumption: Indulge during the holidays but in moderation. Balancing alcohol, coffee and junk food intake helps regulate sleep and mood.  
  4. Stay active: Engage in physical activity, even if it’s just a walk. Staying active releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters.
  5. Relaxation techniques: Allocate daily time for mindfulness practices—meditation, reading (something that inspires or educates), or spending time in nature. These activities help reduce stress and increase focus.
  6. Travel or staycation: Try to change your environment. Even if it’s a short trip or a staycation, a change of scenery can refresh and inspire.
  7. Sleep and rest: Ensure you get adequate sleep. Rest is crucial for mental and physical wellbeing and can significantly impact motivation.
  8. Skill development: Pick a new skill or hobby you want to learn. This can be a new language, a musical instrument, or a new sport such as sailing.
  9. Limit news consumption: Allocate specific times to consume news to avoid overconsumption. Constant exposure to negativity can be draining. 
  10. Affirmations: Use positive affirmations to instil confidence and motivation. Repeating affirmations can reshape mindsets.

The Role of Leaders in Employee Motivation 

Leaders play a pivotal role in fostering employee motivation, especially during uncertain times. As Richard Boyatis wisely stated, leaders should evoke positivity in those they lead, creating an environment of safety, empowerment, and innovation. Leaders should lead by example, setting the standard and inspiring employees to emulate these behaviours.

In uncertain times, leaders must dispel ambiguity, fear and panic among employees by providing clarity on the organisation’s goals and priorities. By doing so, they ensure employees remain motivated and aligned with company objectives.

Recognising that every employee has unique motivational drivers is crucial. Leaders should recognise differences and tailor strategies accordingly. 

Blueprint for a Motivated Workforce: Strategies for Leaders

Leaders can implement a variety of strategies to create an environment where employees feel valued, motivated, and equipped to start the new year on a positive note.

A motivated and engaged workforce is the linchpin of organisational success. Employee dedication and enthusiasm helps to promote a positive workplace culture, and propel an organisation forward. 

As 2024 approaches, it’s essential that leaders prioritise employee wellbeing and motivation to ensure organisational prosperity:

  1. Set clear goals: Keep employees informed about organisational objectives. Regular updates ensure employees are aligned and working towards a common goal.
  2. Expect the best: Display confidence in your employee’s potential. When employees know leaders believe in their potential it can provide a significant motivational boost.  
  3. Open communication: Foster an environment that encourages open dialogue through regular check-ins, open-door policies, and keeping employees informed about company updates.
  4. Recognition: Regularly celebrate employee achievements. This can include public recognition, bonuses, thank-you notes. 
  5. Professional development: Offer employees growth opportunities such as workshops and mentorship programs to support upskilling and motivation to succeed.
  6. Work flexibility: Accommodate flexible work arrangements, create conducive workspaces and support regular breaks.
  7. Team building: Organise team activities and celebrate company and personal milestones to foster team spirit.
  8. Continuous feedback: Offer regular feedback, both positive and constructive. When employees understand their strengths and areas for improvement, they are more likely to be growth-oriented. 
  9. Empowerment: Encourage ownership and innovation. This involves allowing employees to work on passion projects or suggest new ideas.
  10. Health and wellbeing: Prioritise holistic health. Offer wellness programs, mental health resources, and provide resources like courses, apps, tools and books.
  11. Inclusivity and social responsibility: Champion diversity and social initiatives. Foster a culture that makes everyone feel welcome. 
  12. Compensation and benefits: Ensure competitive salaries and benefits. Regularly review and adjust as necessary.

Embracing Motivation for a Prosperous Year Ahead

Harnessing motivation and purpose is essential for both leaders and organisations as we step into 2024.

Engaged and motivated employees are the pillars of organisational success. Their passion and resilience can drive exponential growth. 

As we progress into the new year, harnessing the strategies discussed will be crucial for both leaders and organisations to embed wellbeing and motivation, and ensure a productive and prosperous year ahead.

If you’d like to learn more about Springfox leadership and employee training programs, please follow the link: 

Keep well.

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