Waking Up Your Team in the Dog Days of Summer

Let’s face it – sometimes it is hard to stay motivated during the summer months. Children are on summer break, families are taking vacations, and the idea of relaxing at the pool is more enticing than sitting at your desk watching the day go by. Whatever it is that is occurring in your life, and whatever lack of motivation you feel, you’re not alone. We all have these moments, especially during the summer when we just want to take a break. How do we keep ourselves and our teams motivated? Here are some of my best practices.

Recognize That Your Team Feels the Same Way That You Do

The first step is to recognize your own feelings and assess how a lack of motivation is affecting you. Are you coming in late, leaving early, or taking long lunches? More importantly, how is your team is responding and feeling? Your team may see your example and follow suit – remember, we all want that extra time during the summer. There are many ways to recognize that your team is feeling the same way you are. They may be taking longer breaks, feel a bit more sluggish on the job, or they may just be non-productive.

Consider Flexibility

After recognizing the mutual feeling of unproductivity in the office, consider this – what is your workflow like during these months? Is this the time to encourage your team to take some vacation time to rejuvenate themselves? Or could you offer your team a temporary summer perk, like half-days on Fridays, to show them that you know how they are feeling and want them to be at their best?

A recent Huffington Post article cited five ways that taking a break can make you more productive. The number one reason is that taking a break reduces stress levels. According to the American Psychological Association, highly stressful work environments lead to increased turnover, absenteeism, and reduced productivity – all of which cost U.S. businesses more than $300 billion each year. To help rejuvenate and refresh your team and your office environment, consider the potential benefits of taking a break!

Plan Team-Building Activities

If your workflow won’t allow for increased flexibility during the summer months, consider instead planning some fun projects or team building activities. Here at SGEi, our focus is always on our Culture and the mindset of our team. We plan monthly activities to keep team-building a priority. Some months, that includes a luncheon to recognize our team for their efforts and hard work, or in other months, we plan outside activities. Summer is also a great time to get your team involved in the community and doing their civic duty. As an added bonus, getting your team involved in events they are passionate about can entice them to share their excitement on social media, becoming your strongest marketing tool.

One more great way to promote team-building during the summer months is to have team members partner up within each department. If there is someone that needs a little more help or is interested in learning new skills, cross-train your team, and provide them with exciting learning and career development opportunities. This works great for small companies and helps promote teamwork.

Seek Out and Provide Feedback

Another way to ensure your team stays focused on the lazy summer days is to have regular meetings. Keep your team informed so they know the tasks that need to be accomplished and understand each other’s priorities. In our most recent Culture Hacker blog, our Founder & President wrote some great tips to help keep meetings motivating and effective. Regular meetings with the team will make it easier for you to work out time off and scheduling needs as well.

In addition to effective meetings, be sure to seek out and provide informal feedback with each member of your team individually. There may be underlying issues that need more attention, and keeping your focus on knowing your team and how to best motivate them will help you to identify the root causes of their decline in progress. This will also help you tie into end-of-year performance reviews, as you follow through with your expectations and inspect what you expect. Your team will appreciate you more for following up and providing the informal feedback.

Ultimately, you must have a plan in place during the lazy summer days. Have a way of managing the workflow and tracking results or progress with your team. Your team needs to trust you; this is again why it is so important to lead by example and follow through when you make commitments to your team. By committing to the needs of the business and understanding how to motivate your team during these dog days, you will help build the loyalty, dedication, and trust your team is looking for.

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