Give Yourself a Break

Dr. Jim,
The stress/anxiety I am feeling as a result of all the sudden changes due to COVID-19 is affecting my motivation to work. What should I do?


Hi Louise,
This reminds me, yesterday afternoon I was in the grocery store, and I got to the point that I was so frustrated I just wanted to lay down in the aisle like a 2 year-old having a temper tantrum. That’s part of what we are all experiencing these days.

About motivation, the number one thing to remember is take regular breaks throughout the day. Do not try to do everything at once or stay glued to your seat all day. You’ve got to take breaks, it’s really important.

Another thing that is really useful is calling one of your colleagues to have a conversation about your shared experience, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. Or you might want to get everybody on team together on camera for a brief portion of the day so everyone can interact with each other as you would in the office. That can help with motivation and could add a little humour to the day, raising the levity of the team, which can be very helpful.
– Dr. Jim


*names have been changed

Keeping Your Team Motivated

Dr. Jim,
As a leader with a reduced workforce due to layoffs, how do I keep my remaining team motivated and engaged to continue to be productive?

Hello Julie,
This is a challenge. Assuming this is the first time that your team is working remotely, I would first meet with each team member for about 10 minutes and ask for ideas around what they think they can do to help stay motivated and what roadblocks or challenges they are having. Ask how you can help them.

Next, meet as a team to talk about their experiences so far with all the changes brought on due to Coronavirus. Things they’ve learned about themselves, things they were surprised about, and what they might be looking forward to in the future. Also, you as the leader should clearly communicate the ground rules, values, and the behaviors you are looking for during this remote time.

Finally, 2 or 3 times a week I would do what we at Vivo Team call a Direct Ongoing Swift Encounter (D.O.S.E.). Go around and have each team member state what they are currently working on. Next any stuck points they are dealing with. Lastly, get each person say a recent win, either personal or work related, big or small. This should take no longer than 10-12 minutes and everyone will get into the flow of doing that regularly. The main thing is to stay in touch. Don’t bug people, connect with people.

– Dr. Jim

What About Work?

Dear Dr. Jim,
My work from home employees are posting on Facebook all day about cleaning their closets out, baking bread, and even grouting the bathroom. How do I make sure they’re accountable?
– Lisa*

Hi Lisa*,
Our job as leaders and managers is to stay checked in and connected with our teams and the bigger picture. To ensure accountability, I would plan a virtual team meeting and say: I notice a lot of you are cleaning out your closets and baking bread. I’m a bit concerned about how that’s affecting your work. Do you have what you need? Help me out!

You’ll probably find that people are organizing their days differently. I’ve been working remotely for 15 years and I will work a couple hours here, go for a run, work again, do an errand, work a bit in the evening, etc. That’s what works for me and my productivity. Always be aware of what’s going on by checking in with your team often instead of making assumptions.
– Dr. Jim


* names have been changed