The weather is warm and beautiful. The beach, mountains and exotic locales are all calling us to come and enjoy them. After our 12-plus years of school, most of us have been subconsciously programmed to think of summer as a time for vacation and play, not work!
In a recent phone conversation I had with a peer, she told me, “I’m going on vacation next week, so I’m in vacation mode and I’m finding it hard to concentrate.” That sentiment is prevalent in the work force from the moment school lets out until it starts back again in the late summer/early fall.
It’s common knowledge in business that the two most difficult times to keep people focused and motivated are during summer and the winter holiday season. But work must go on nonetheless -- so how do you keep your team members engaged and on task?
Here are three techniques I’ve found helpful over the years:
1. Meet them where they are.
Acknowledge that you’re all in vacation mode, and let your team members talk to you about the fun things they are doing or planning to do the rest of the summer. It’s much better to have them talk about what’s on their minds than let them daydream about it all day long.
Spend some time as a group sharing vacation plans or looking at fun pictures from people’s time off. People like to know that their leaders care about their personal lives and don’t just see them as a means to an end.
If you are one of those leaders who never takes a vacation, don’t think less of someone on your team who does. Appreciate the fact that they are taking time for themselves -- maybe you can even learn a thing or two from them!
2. Celebrate successes.
Summer is a good time to pull out the objectives and goals that you set at the beginning of the year (assuming you did that) and review each one to see how much progress you have made. Even if you did not set goals, take time to list all the accomplishments your team has made over the last several months.
People tend to get so focused on the demands of the day that they forget all the great things they have already achieved, and it’s important for your team members to know that the work they’re doing matters. So thank them for their hard work and reiterate their importance to your organization.
If you’re feeling ambitious, add some fun and recreation to the occasion by sponsoring a lunch, ice cream party or happy hour. Remembering and celebrating successes is a foolproof way to give your team an immediate burst of energy!
3. Reset (or set) goals.
Summer is an amazing time to reset goals. If you have not set any yet, there is no time like the present to do it.
Expectations and goals provide people a focus and direction that can keep them engaged even during the summer, because they’re reminders that their efforts are important to the outcomes and success of their group. This exercise can also uncover some activities that aren’t working or may have stalled.
The new, refreshed outlook that setting/resetting goals creates is a great feeling for everyone involved.
Summer does not have to be a time when work stops. Get people’s “vacation mode” mentality out in the open, celebrate successes and recalibrate your goals -- and watch your team stay in action!