Motivation - don't lose it!

Posted on 9th April 2020

During this period of remote working, self-isolation and social distancing advised by the Government and the Country’s senior health advisers, it would be natural for motivation levels to take a downward turn.  The importance of keeping an organisation’s individuals and teams highly motivated is a conversation I have had with several business leaders and senior managers recently.

It is important to try and maintain a state of good mental and emotional health during this unprecedented time of change. People have been forced to change the way they work, including home working, changes in working behaviour, increased workloads and in the case of furloughed workers, no work at all.  It is very important that business leaders ensure that they are making the effort to keep the levels of motivation of their staff as high as they can be throughout this whole period.

The effects of low or no motivation

“It’s a fact that people work to a high standard because they want to and not because they are told to.” So, your role as leader, when considering the motivation and performance standards of your people, is certainly an area that requires great attention. This applies on any given day but especially during this difficult and challenging period of remote working for so many. For some people, it is the case that they have no work at all, whilst for others it is the case that they are a trying to keep up their duties as a valuable front-line worker, needed to fight this virus and being faced with going to work each day, dealing directly with infected people and wondering if it will be them, next.

Research shows that the effect of low motivation can cause significantly damaging levels of reduced effort and quality in the performance delivery of people and teams:

  • low moods
  • lack of engagement
  • no innovative thinking
  • lack of enthusiasm
  • poor energy levels
  • reduced concentration

These are just some of the factors that will all have a hugely negative effect on performance.

Remote working

One of the very interesting observations at times such as these, when people are forced into doing things differently and working remotely, is the variety of ways that people react to forced changes.  In particular, how well they deal with the challenges that something as unprecedented as this, will force on them.

The important thing is to recognise that for everyone, no matter what kind of person they are, communication is key. You need to ensure that contact with your people and teams is of the highest quality and is maintained throughout this period and beyond.

The role of the remote worker has, at any time, some specific challenges including:

  • Feeling detached from the team
  • Loss of effective communications
  • Keeping updated with developments and progress
  • Getting distracted
  • Low levels of output due to procrastinating
  • Poor time management
  • Working too much

So, at a time like this when we have more or all of our people working remotely, it’s easy to see why leaders should ensure that communications are not only maintained but are appropriate to supporting the individual or team to be the best they can be. This will help ensure the health and well-being of their staff and improve performance delivery.

What motivates people?

There have been many examples of shared research over the years that help business leaders to understand the role of motivation because this allows us to maximise the engagement and efforts of the people we support and manage.

Certainly within my role as a performance coach, I completely get the need to understand the effect of motivation on the performer, because it is this motivation that I need to tap into to help get the best out of them and so too, should business leaders be doing the same.

Maslow, illustrates that at the lowest level of self-motivation for us all, is the need to ‘survive’, the need to have enough food, water, oxygen and shelter to keep me and my family alive.  Maslow also highlights the very important aspects of feeling like you belong and for many, a sense of status and achievement – some are driven by the need to be the very best they can be. All of these can clearly be affected by these current situations and the circumstances that are being forced on us, by it. So, it would be easy to assume that people’s levels of motivations are being affected, so how do we support people at this time?


After spending many years working with elite performers in sport and in business as well as many leaders and teams, who for a variety of reasons find themselves, struggling for motivation due to forced changes in their lives and /or circumstances, for example; an elite athlete getting injured and not being able to compete at a major games or for workers who cannot do what it is they like to do or are good, I have learned to direct their thinking to a number of focused areas:

  • Purpose – Always get the performer to consider ‘why’ they do the things they do. Remind yourself of your purpose and consider what happens if you choose not to do this well or even at all. Who will it effect and what will be the consequences to yourself and others?
  • Meaningfulness – Remind people about the how meaningful what they do is and get them to consider it from the view of themselves and those around them. Maybe their family, maybe the end-user or maybe the business partners, or indeed anyone who is financially or emotionally invested I what you do.
  • Impact – Get people to consider the impact that they have on themselves and others when they do what they do and also get them to identify the potential impact on others if they choose not to do it, or perhaps to do it to a lesser standard.


It is important to also remind people that, life is a series of challenges and for us all to survive and/or succeed, it is those who find ways to adapt to the changing environments that will succeed the most.

Very often, when changes are forced upon us (like an injury, a change in legislation or Covid-19) it generally only means that there will be a required period of change before things can return to the way we normally do things but it also worth noting that, very often we do what we do, the way we do it purely out of habit and so it is always a good thing to take some time to consider if the way we do things is still the best way. This period of forced change is definitely one of them and it is hopefully the case that those who stay motivated during this time, will not only survive it but will have found new and better ways to do things that can be continued when things are allowed to return to some form of perceived normality and also, that all of the people and our services, are all ready to ‘hit the ground running’ when the times comes.

Don’t underestimate the impact of demotivated people both in terms of well-being and the performance of your business, so be sure that you are doing all you can to keep in touch, communicate with purpose and show that you care.

If you need any help, support or further guidance with any of the above and want some more advice or simply someone to talk to, then please do call us on 01536 215240.

Graham Ravenscroft Character
Written by:
Graham Ravenscroft
Lead Performance Coach