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How Effective Leaders Drive Performance Motivation at Crunch Time

Posted by Sandy Yu on 12.17.2019


With the hustle of the holidays and end-of-year crunch time, keeping up performance-motivation in our teams can be a challenge. When employees want to be off merry-making but you still have spreadsheets to finish, pressure and deadlines can quickly take a toll on the attitude of your office.

When facing the pressure of year-end goals, don’t slip into a pattern of negative performance management. Constantly pressing your team to accomplish to-dos is one tactic to get the job done, but effective leaders know it takes more than a heavy hand to ensure work meets the caliber of quality it should and that your team remains positive.

We asked industry experts to share their tips on how to get the best work out of your team at crunch time:

Build up your team’s confidence

Keesa SchreaneEveryone wants to feel appreciated and valued. When I encourage team members to activate the things they do well, I also remind them of past performances that were excellent. This gives them the confidence to build on actions they may consider “peak” performances. This encouragement, along with telling them how the business appreciates their performance, results in individual out-performance and, eventually, the entire team’s out-performance.

When in a crunch to meet year-end goals, remind employees specifically how their work matters and is making a difference to the company.

Keesa Schreane, Direct of Partnerships and Host of Refinitiv Sustainability Perspectives

Encourage them to be self-motivated

Gaurav SharmaPerformance management requires active involvement of the manager, which can be taxing, especially during crunch time. However, if you manage to create a self-motivated team, they can act without supervision in times of need and are just as motivated as you are to get the job done. It’s an extremely powerful force multiplier. 

You have to start early. Build a culture in your team that encourages team members to go above and beyond to help each other out. It creates a self-perpetuating cycle. Be the one to kick-start the culture by going the extra mile for a new employee and being their firm but friendly mentor.

Gaurav Sharma, BankersByDay

Be flexible, but firm

Nate MastersonDuring the holiday season, employees have lots going on at home. But there’s also plenty of year-end work that absolutely must get done. Motivate employees to work hard by being understanding and allowing more flexibility during this time of the year as long as the work is accomplished. Fight burnout with simple gestures such as offering flexible hours or opportunities to work from home make employees less stressed, and, consequently, harder workers.

Nate Masterson, HR Manager at Maple Holistics.

Balance pressure with happiness

Steve PritchardWhile performance is always likely to fluctuate during different projects and different times of the year, you need to make sure you get the best out of your staff as often as you can, especially in crunch periods.

In such a situation, applying pressure will drive your staff to work their hardest, but not necessarily their best. The added responsibility may weigh too heavily on their shoulders. Plus, too much pressure can equate to too much stress which will diminish employee happiness, motivation and in extreme situations, employee health.

When striving to meet year-end goals, you need to balance the pressure with happiness. Ensure you make your employees realize the importance of meeting goals and their responsibility to contribute toward them, but also make sure you go the extra mile to reward their efforts and give them some downtime.

In tough, challenging periods, be sure they know their efforts are appreciated to keep them driven. Buy them lunch occasionally or bring in some treats for them to enjoy while they work. You’ll be surprised how much it will contribute toward a motivated but happy workplace.

Steve Pritchard, HR Manager at Checklate

Give your team a sense of purpose (not just a promise of a holiday bonus)

Emily Eliza MoyerWhat usually happens at the end of the year is managers get hyper-focused on meeting quantitative goals. They use the lure of bonuses or other surface-level incentives to motivate employees. 

As humans, our deepest motivation comes from our sense of purpose. As a manager, your best tool is to know your employees purpose and to help them connect it back to the work

they’re doing every day. Help them understand on a deep level why meeting year-end goals matters - to them. Remind them that their role, their work, and their performance has a real, meaningful impact.

Emily Eliza Moyer, Career Coach | Purpose & Alignment at Emily Eliza Moyer Coaching

Build a culture of effective communication

Cameron BishopIt all boils down to building effective communication channels between management and staff. Performance motivation isn't a switch that can be flipped when needed. Prior to any unexpected year-end work crunch, managers and employees must have already established a schedule of performance meetings throughout the year and key performance indicators.

Make these meetings heavy on cross communication and feedback, allowing for both sides to be aware of any issues. Employees must know what the workload challenges will be, and the managers must know if employees need additional resources to stay relevant and capable to do the job satisfactorily.

Cameron Bishop, CEO & President of SkillPath

Create a shared vision

Mike ByamMost leaders value employees who are highly motivated. Much can be accomplished when teams and individuals are guided by a clear vision and motivated to perform to their full potential.

Vision + value = motivation. Successful leaders must first help employees understand the vision, or the “why” behind the goals. Partners who share a vision are invested in its success and motivated to go the extra mile. The second key to the equation is value. Motivational leaders build a culture of appreciation, helping their teams understand the unique value each member contributes.

Mike Byam, CEO of Terryberry 

Topics: leadership tips, peformance motivation

Human Resources Today