“Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.”


I love this quote by Dr Brené Brown. Her views on the power of vulnerability have always underpinned my approach to leadership, and her call to be brave and to ‘step into the arena’ has really resonated with me in recent months. At BMG, we want people to step into the arena, to be courageous and tackle challenges head on, and to know that it’s OK to get knocked down from time to time so long as there’s the determination and motivation to get back up.


Now we’re entering our fifth month of home-working, we have to consider the next big challenge which, in my opinion, concerns motivation. How do you keep motivated, or motivate others, when you’re not in a physical room with everyone? And how do you engage and empower people to ensure motivation and momentum doesn't dip, particularly when there’s still so much uncertainty?  


It’s pretty simple actually. You just have to be more visible.


Throughout lockdown, the BMG team would begin the day with a call to one of their colleagues, just to check in and see how they were doing. We found that helped fuel our energy, on an individual level and as a collective, particularly during those darker days when the outbreak first hit the headlines. Now, a few months on, we still encourage those informal check ins across the team, because you never know when somebody’s struggling, and a call from a colleague can make all the difference.


When you speak to someone who’s feeling down, then you’ll find your naturally nurturing side will bolster, and perhaps you'll feel better about yourself because you've supported somebody else during a difficult time. Or it may be the reverse of that – perhaps you're having a down day, but you're speaking to somebody whose nurturing side has kicked in, and their support spurs you on and brings you up a little bit. So, staying in touch with your colleagues can help motivate everyone in a team.


Setting some kind of routine or giving yourself a reason to be present, and dotting those moments of connection throughout the day – those moments when you have to show up, you have to be somewhere, you have to get into the arena – that to me is the key to banishing that feeling of isolation that many people have experienced over the last few months. Encouraging your teammates to develop rituals of their own may help overcome any feelings of apathy that sometimes accompany the lack of buzz that one used to enjoy in the office.


From a leadership perspective, the main way you can help motivate people is to keep in touch. Let people know what’s going on, and find a reason to celebrate the little things. With so much talk about redundancies, a second wave and a looming recession, it’s understandable for people to be worried. We all need good news to balance the bad news. A win, of any shape or size, can have a massively positive impact. Even if it’s a small victory, like some positive customer feedback, sharing that news will make all the difference. It will make people, those working and those on furlough, feel part of the journey. I’m in regular contact with the entire BMG family, the whole group, and we make it known that everyone has access to the senior management and leadership team as well as their line managers. 


We have a WhatsApp group for everybody in the business. We post regular updates of what’s going on, and we also talk about personal stuff and sometimes we just chew the fat about nothing at all. We’re not doing online yoga lessons or anything like that, but we are sharing the odd humorous tweet or meme. And we find that’s a great way to motivate ourselves and each other, just by coming together every now and then to have a laugh and a joke.


We’ve gone through the pain now and we’re slowly coming out the other side. While we may have felt knocked down a few months ago, now we’re in a place of building back up. We just need to be brave and show up. We need to step into the arena and be ready for the next round.  


By Rachel Houghton, MD at Business Moves Group


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