How to motivate staff in turbulent times

Avoid bad hires

As a leader, you simply never know when your organisation is going to sail into stormy waters. Whether it’s due to reasons within or entirely outside of your control, inspiring leadership is needed more than ever when times are tough. Staff can often become overwhelmed by all the pressure and uncertainty that comes during turbulent times, making it crucially important that leaders are able to ensure their employees stay inspired and motivated.

“Leaders need to be most agile and resilient especially when their people are looking to them for direction,” says Lance Maree, Director at Robert Walters South Africa, “This starts with being aware of how you cope under pressure and adapting your approach to suit the environment. Stepping away from negativity and leading your people to a more positive mindset with the right behaviours is what sets inspiring leaders apart from the rest.”

Transform panic into passion

It’s easy to understand why many people panic when thrust into difficult situations. As a leader, it can be tough to get through to people when there is so much uncertainty in the air. Despite this, you can use critical moments to your advantage. The seriousness and weight of the situation can be turned into an inspiring call to action, rather than a cause for panic and uncertainty. Many people can be on edge in testing times – use this to yours and their advantage rather than letting it hinder progress.

Turn rhetoric into action

Most people will have heard a lot of the usual rhetoric that leaders engage in, so it might not have quite the impact you hope it will. Even though what you are saying might be true and capable of offering inspiration, often just using words without purposeful action can fail to have the desired effect. This is why it’s crucial that you do more than just talk – put into practice initiatives and calls to action that will help turn your words into tangible results in the workplace.

Be firm but fair

There’s no doubt that when times get tough, the demands placed on every member of staff increase significantly. Given that pressure is already likely to be quite high, the additional effort and focus required to navigate through difficulties can be tough for many people; however, the critical nature of getting through tough times means you can’t be too lax, or you won’t make it through. This is why it’s crucial to strike the right balance between firmness and fairness. Show your staff a side of you that understands the difficult position they are in, but let them know that they are strong and dedicated enough to get through it if they work hard enough.

Unite your team

When things go wrong, people often look for something or someone to blame it on. This is the kind of hostile working atmosphere that can be incredibly detrimental to your organisation as your employees are not working together as a team towards one common goal. Gathering everyone together to remind them that staying united as a team is the strongest way to approach any challenge in the future is far better than dwelling on the mistakes of the past.


Robert Walters offer expert hiring advice to our clients looking to attract and retain top professionals whilst accommodating the needs and demands of the modern workforce. Contact us today at for your latest recruitment needs. 

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