Motivation – Maximising Your Team’s Performance

Navigating challenges surrounding motivation is essential during the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 continues to have a profound impact on our lives, from a personal and professional perspective. Despite the unprecedented nature of the events that are taking place, leaders must continue to motivate members of their team to sustain performance.

The Benefits of Employee Motivation

Motivational skills are essential for leaders because they have a direct influence on employee performance and the facilitation of company objectives. When a leader successfully motivates their team, this has multiple benefits, such as:

Heightened Commitment

When employees are motivated, they apply themselves, improving their effort when completing tasks. Therefore, this improves the overall quality of the work completed.

Improved Morale

Morale is essential for any aspiring company. Motivation inspires team spirit and optimism, prompting positive growth for an organisation.

Greater Efficiency

Ability and qualifications aren’t the only contributory factors for efficiency levels; when a leader inspires their team members and offers motivational support, this generates a desire for the employee to perform the task to the best of their ability.

Team Development

When a leader motivates a member of their team and the employee achieves targets or goals, they recognise the value of hard work. This can act as a strong source of motivation to work harder and pursue new skills that can also benefit the team as a whole. 

Why Adaptability is Essential When Motivating

According to the Chinese proverb: The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water moulds itself to the pitcher.

While circumstances have changed, this doesn’t mean that leaders can’t successfully inspire and motivate their teams by adopting an adaptable approach.   

This is the time for leaders to consider the adverse state of affairs when trying to motivate their team and adopt a more personable, structural approach to keep teams engaged, boost morale and successfully achieve goals. 

For instance, in his podcast, The 5 Dysfunctions of a Virtual Team, Patrick Lencioni suggests that now is the time to be ‘human’ as a Leader; Lencioni focuses on this by saying that vulnerability is key for leaders to build trust.

Given the wide berth of negative stimuli from multiple sources, including television, radio and newspapers, there’s potential for members of a team to become fixated on the negatives, adopt a fixed mindset and follow the path of limitation.

Therefore, leaders have an essential role to play in establishing positivity, leading by example and motivating their team to ensure that they follow the path of possibility and develop a growth mindset. In doing so, this will act as a greater source of motivation and generate output.

To manage negativity and motivate team members, leaders need to identify potential sources of external pressures that could be present within their team and be ready to empathise.

Potential Negative Motivators

To motivate team members, leaders need to identify drivers of negativity that could be present within their team.

Lindsay McGregor and Neel Doshi identified three negative motivators that could have a detrimental impact on team motivation and overall performance. These include:

  1. Emotional Pressure
  2. Economic Pressure
  3. Inertia

COVID-19 has prompted a rise in emotional and economic pressure, with many worrying about rent, mortgage payments and loved ones, while basic tasks such as food shopping carry a risk. It’s anticipated that Inertia amongst workers working remotely could increase, with people questioning the validity of work, given the overall circumstances.

However, there are positive motivators that can be implemented, in a bid to counteract the fixed mindset, in turn, boosting motivation within their team.

Positive Motivators

McGregor and Doshi identified three positive motivators that have the potential to improve motivation and enhance work performance.


With arrangements currently in place whereby workers aren’t meeting their colleagues face-to-face, there’s a strong possibility that conversations, emails, telephone calls and video calls will be dominated solely by work tasks. 

Leaders need to strike a balance between work and play to ensure that their team remains motivated, as endorsed by Dr Heidi Edmundson, who adopted this mindset whilst working for the NHS.  

Despite the current circumstances, there are ways that leaders can follow suit innovatively to ensure that members of their team aren’t missing the joy of the office. For instance, many companies are hosting virtual quizzes for staff members to alleviate stress and enable them to catch up with peers.


In his talk The Why, Simon Sinek stated, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.

Team members know what their role is and how they do it, but in some instances, they may not know why it’s important.

Leaders must ensure that colleagues are aware of why they’re important and why their work is essential to ensure that they don’t lose sight of their role and purpose.


The work of McGregor and Doshi indicates that motivation amongst staff could decline if team members are unable to gain access to colleagues who can teach them and develop their skills.

Setting goals can act as a source of motivation for team members who may be prone to disengagement. High, yet attainable goals offer members of the team short and long-term focus and can act as a source of motivation to steer them to the path of possibility, as outlined in our earlier piece focusing on Resilience and Wellbeing.

Therefore, leaders need to consider whether development opportunities within their team have been compromised, and if so, why is this the case?

Measures should be put in place whereby team members can continue fulfilling their potential. For example, if staff have been furloughed, introducing training courses can develop valuable skills and indicate to team members that you value their role within the business during the post-COVID-19 era.

Furthermore, companies such as Tesco currently have 50,000 people sick or self-isolating due to coronavirus. Therefore, an influx of temporary staff has been employed, therefore, bringing a wide berth of unknown strengths into the company. In such instances, leaders should think innovatively to ensure that these untapped skillsets are being used within their workforce.

In five years, people will talk about their leader during COVID-19. How will you help them write the narrative by your actions today?

Do you need advice on how to motivate your team? Contact Co-Creation on +44 7876 024555 or email, our specialist consultants would be delighted to help.