Summer is over. For some employees, though, it may have been over much earlier. A number of them are burned out. Perhaps they partied too hard or traveled too much. On the other hand, maybe they didn't even take time off, didn't have vacation days saved up, or didn't have the money or interest in going away.
Then, too, there are always some individuals who look around and see other colleagues who did manage to take time off, and they may be jealous. "Why couldn't I get away?" they may ask.
In any case, many of your employees might need rejuvenation, especially if they were not able to revitalize themselves over these past few months.
As their boss, what can you do to ensure that they are as productive as possible? It all starts with carving out time for one-on-one discussions. Here are 10 things you can start with to bring everyone up to speed and then accelerate:
- Ask how they are feeling about the summer coming to an end. You may find that some have those end-of-season-blues and are sad, demoralized or simply exhausted. Ask them what plans they have to get back into emotional shape to carry on successfully. If they don't have good answers, make a few suggestions or encourage them to do some serious thinking about self-improvement. (Keep in mind the very simple solutions: proper rest, diet and exercise.)
- Ask them what their goals are for the year. Determine how much they have accomplished so far. Given the ending of the summer season, ask them to take another look at where they are now and how much further along they need to be to achieve their goals and company objectives. This may be a good time not only to evaluate goals, but also an excellent opportunity to reassess and modify them, if necessary.
- Ask them what they need to do to become more motivated. Often the individuals, themselves, can come up with the best solutions to this challenge.
- Create situations that give employees a sense of accomplishment. It could be a new or revised goal or simply a new approach to an existing objective. In any case, feeling a sense of accomplishment is a powerful source of motivation.
- Praise them. Go out of your way to uncover positive things they have done, even if they are small. Big accomplishments often began as little ones. Being praised by a boss can be a very potent motivator.
- Recognize their efforts in front of others. Take time out of staff meetings to share the successes of your employees. Send positive e-mails to your employees that demonstrate that you are aware of the good they have done. Where appropriate, share successes with their colleagues and others.
- Talk about career paths. Discuss where they see themselves going in your company over the next few years and then even further down the line. Having a longer-term goal and striving to achieve it can usually move almost anyone out of a lethargic or unmotivated state of mind.
- Increase their level of responsibility and authority. Certainly you don't want to reward negative behavior, but discuss what additional responsibilities they think they are capable of handling, within the parameters of their current level of success, knowledge, skills and abilities. If those responsibilities are realistic and appropriate, then give them a chance to prove and improve themselves.
- Team them up with another individual or even a small group. "Synergy," the power and product produced by putting several heads together, often leads to a more powerful process and outcome than if one person acted alone. In addition, consider the positive social effect of being able to work with and interact with someone else.
- Find a mentor for these employees. This is a person, usually of higher rank, who sees the whole picture and can provide much-needed input and insights into how these people are performing and how they can achieve the best in their careers. Mentors can provide helpful ideas and suggest alternative action steps on the road to success.
If you can look at the ending of summer as an opportunity to reinvigorate your employees, you may be able to look forward to increased interest, productivity and a greater chance of success for the rest of the year.
Dr. David G. Javitch is an organizational psychologist, leadership specialist, and President of Javitch Associates in Newton, Mass. Author of How to Achieve Power in Your Life, Javitch is in demand as a consultant for his skills in assessment, coaching, training and facilitating groups and retreats.