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Driving team motivation and engagement

For most leaders globally, leading remote teams is the new norm. Over the last few weeks, they had to rapidly change their team’s work arrangements, ensuring that they had the relevant technology, processes and tools in place to work effectively from home. But having the right set up is only the first step in ensuring that people stay engaged and motivated whilst working from home.

Adapting to the new business as usual

Naturally, remote productivity is mixed. Some will see increased level of productivity and motivation, and others might feel less motivated and focus more on tactical work, rather than adapting to solve new problems that the business might be facing. Uncertain times mean that employees experience a high level of anxiety, however it’s important for leaders to remember that work and a sense of purpose can deliver a much-needed motivational boost to their teams.

The first instinct might be to set up strict processes and rules to ensure that teams keep up their productivity levels and get work done. While some degree of guidelines will help people to adapt quickly, too many can create a vicious spiral of demotivation, leading to people doing the bare minimum, instead of focusing on innovation and creative problem-solving.

Many businesses had to make some difficult decisions and put some employees on furlough, meaning that teams are forced to do more with less, which is a morale killer in the best of times and even more so when their energy and attention is being consumed by the ongoing crisis. It’s important that leaders acknowledge and address the challenges this might create and support their teams by navigating them through the new situation.

To make people engaged, make their work engaging

One of the most powerful ways leaders can get the best out of their people is by giving them the opportunity to solve problems that really matter. Leaders should be aware of any potential barriers to performance and provide as much support as possible to prevent further disruptions. By welcoming new ideas and considering suggestions put forward, leaders can create psychological safety that can not only drive motivation but can also help innovative business ideas to emerge.

Any significant change creates anxiety, and leaders play an important role in putting their employees’ minds at ease by affirming their roles and value. Balancing realism with optimisms will create higher levels of trust than overpromising, as difficult news delivered right is better than misleading or non-existent communication, which naturally leads people to assume the worst. It’s now more important that ever that leaders take the extra time to connect with their teams and check on their and their family’s wellbeing. Let them know you care - it can be through regular meetings or by simply listening to their concerns and acting up on them.

The roles of business leaders have shifted from fostering innovation and driving revenue, to making bold decisions about cutting cost and business continuity in a matter of weeks. The unprecedented changes have led to many leaders experiencing supply chain issues, workforce shortages and operational challenges, drastically changing the scope of their responsibilities and priorities. This is not an easy transition, for even the most experienced leaders.

At Acumen, we have over 21 years of experience in designing and delivering leadership development programmes that give leaders at all levels the practical tools to help solve real life challenges. For more information about our programmes please contact Simon at

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