Maintaining motivation during COVID19

Writing on paper

Maintaining motivation during COVID19


Damian Barr’s tweet rung true for many, as it did for us at Lane4. From conversations with our own clients, we know that different sectors are experiencing the COVID-19 crisis differently; some thriving whilst others feel like they are facing battles daily. This chasm of differing experiences expands when it comes to individuals, whose experience is reliant on a magnitude of variables from health to the number of people one has to lean on.

Appreciating the differences that those around you are living is the first step in understanding how their motivation might be impacted by COVID-19. Adrian Moorhouse, Lane4 founder and Olympic Gold medallist, and Paul Jewitt-Harris, Lane4 Consultant Delivery Director, led a recent webinar on how to maintain motivation during the COVID-19 crisis (watch on-demand here).

They covered what motivation is and how leaders can influence their teams’ motivation through tips and strategies for those at work or on furlough. Here, we have a written version of this webinar to help you boost your own and your team’s motivation.


Defining motivation


When it comes to talking about motivation, there’s a key distinction I think people often forget to make. Inspiration is the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions. You can share a vision, create a picture, stimulate people’s hearts and heads with your passion. Motivation is the desire to do, to invest. We can be the catalytic motion, instilling motive to move in someone by stimulating their thinking and feeling, but whether than translates into movement is up to them.

As leaders, this may sound like other than inspiring our team, their motivation is out of our hands. This isn’t entirely the case: the framework below provides some added tools to influence your team’s motivation as for many, this may not feel like an inspiring time.

Top tips for maintaining motivation




Working during COVID-10

Our motivation framework is based on the pivotal research of Deci and Ryan, two psychologists who mapped out the determinants of motivation. At Lane4, we help our clients boost their motivation by addressing the 4 core areas which influence motivation.

  • Autonomy
  • Belonging
  • Competence
  • Meaning

People have strong drivers in multiple but not all, of these areas. It’s interesting to interrogate how these combine for you as a leader but also for each of your team members, as different drivers will have been impacted by COVID19. Once you have that understanding of what drives your team, you can alter your leadership behaviours to help your people balance out their motivation.


Empower employees to make decisions

As leaders, when there is less visibility and uncertainty is higher, there is a temptation to grab control and start diving into other people’s task list. Although intuitively this may feel like the right thing to do, by boosting your autonomy, you’re taking away your team’s autonomy. This means their satisfaction and control will be impeded upon, and their motivation will suffer.

Instead, switch from being a leader to a facilitator of leadership by allowing your team to take ownership of their projects and tasks. By helping your team increase their motivation at work during a challenging time, you may even find your meaning being impacted as a leader!

Provide security so honest mistakes are not punished

What a successful outcome looks like may feel less clear right now, but your role as a leader is to outline variables for success and encourage your team to work toward them. Given the pace of change in the current context, mistakes will be inevitable. By cultivating trust within your team, they will feel comfortable making these mistakes, and will be able to address failures as learning opportunities.

Encourage employees to set personal goals for ‘imposed projects’

Amidst COVID-19, priorities have changed and your team may not be working on their preferred tasks. By encouraging them to set personal development goals on these tasks, you are providing them with an opportunity to seek out autonomy if they need it to boost their motivation.

Provide employees with access to all information to make informed choices

As a leader you want to do the right thing for your clients by providing them with safety and security. You might have the best intentions, but by doing all the work yourself you risk not sharing as much information as you could with your team. It’s important to sense check with the people you work with: do they feel that they have enough of a grasp of what’s going on in your business right now?

Leaders should ask themselves: Am I giving my team enough space to work out the “how” for themselves? Ask them for feedback on this to ensure you’re providing them enough autonomy.


Develop shared values throughout the organisation

It is during times of crisis that organisational values truly play out, and where you see how strong your organisational culture is. Leaders must remember to continue enacting and promoting those values, because they can be crucial to maintaining people’s motivation and commitment to the organisation. At Lane4, we have created lots of opportunities to demonstrate our ‘growing communities’ value, from virtual lunches for the whole company to weekly ‘Lane4 has talent’ evening events for our people and their families.

Provide opportunities for social interaction

The need for social interaction comes back to our tribal days, when humans had to be part of a group to survive. Social interaction and being accepted by the group meant safety and survival.

Nowadays, we can cultivate social interaction in the workplace by developing opportunities for our teams to connect – be it through a virtual brew or a team quiz. Such activities may seem trivial when companies are struggling through the COVID-19 crisis, but in fact they can be at the crux of people’s motivation.

Encourage and enable collaboration

At Lane4, we have a Bounce Forward academy for those on furlough to collaborate with one another. As a result, we have seen some fantastic initiatives, such as our mental health awareness group Mind4 organising learning sessions ranging from meditation to cooking classes. This allows people to maintain their belonging drive whilst creating something meaningful which will benefit those around them.

Develop strong social networks

Our analogy for furlough is that we are still ‘one squad’. Those still working are on the pitch, those on furlough are on the bench, but we are still all part of the same team, each playing our part in achieving a shared goal.  At Lane4 we have worked with lots of elite performing teams, and the best squads we’ve worked with are full of people who feel they are contributing no matter where their role lies in the team.

Companies with employees at work and in furlough can unintentionally create an in-group and an out-group. For people who have a strong belonging drive, being part of an out-group can be really demotivating. As a leader, you have to be deliberate in maintaining the internal coalitions within your team to counter this mentality.

Ask yourself: How can you can pull people together during this time rather than let them exclude one another?


Provide motivational and developmental feedback

By doing this, you’re both encouraging your team in their successes and providing them with development areas they can improve in.

Encourage a focus on task mastery

Small tasks which used to be easy might now be more complex to initiate, but encourage your teams to embrace the learning process. By learning to master a new skill, they will get satisfaction from having put the effort in to complete the task rather than frustration at it taking longer!

Provide opportunities for employees to work on tasks that are matched to their abilities

For some, their area of expertise falls into connecting with people, being aware of group dynamics and finding solutions by collaborating with different teams. Virtual work makes utilising these types of skill a lot harder, and when combined with a threat response from COVID19, some people I have recently worked with are left questioning their identity in the workplace.

The solution to this type of issue is to remind people of their core competencies, and help them find ways of translating these to the virtual world of work on tasks which are matched to their abilities.

Create meaningful development opportunities

For those on furlough, this might be the opportunity to encourage those with a strong competence drive to set developmental goals to further their knowledge and skills. For example, at Lane4 we have been running digital upskilling sessions for those who want to use furlough to become more comfortable with our virtual delivery platforms or our webinar software.

Leaders should ask themselves: What are the skills, values and principles that underpin your performance? Encourage your team to ask themselves the same question.


Encourage employees to develop an exciting vision for their work

Amidst the COVID19 crisis, a lot of organisations now have even more of a defined purpose: survival, helping communities, helping people. If you can hook your people into that new purpose, which might not be as corporate as it used to be, in can be an invaluable tool in helping people determine their meaning.

As leaders, you can give people line of sight towards this purpose. This allows them to create a road map from their role towards the destination. During my Olympic career, I quickly understood how that roadmap can be a huge source of motivation to weather the upheaval along the way towards a goal.

Understand what employees care about

This is about interrogating your team on their purpose. Take the time this week to ask them their purpose looks like right now, as it might have changed since the onset of COVID19. Once you understand this, you can help them work on projects and tasks which feel relevant to them. It will also allow you to bring the company vision and their line of sight to life!

Help employees connect day-to-day with vision

During times of crisis as a leader it’s easy to be lazy about a vision, but it’s actually a time when it’s crucial to be crystal clear about what might be meaningful right now. When the COVID19 crisis emerged, at Lane4 we created a mini strategy: protect our people, defend what we can, bounce forward. I think people bought into that and it gave them a daily vision related to where we were at in the strategy.

Give employees the opportunity to work on ‘whole tasks’

This might be more complex amidst COVID19, but as a leader you can still break bigger projects into parts which your team can take ownership over, and which will be meaningful to them.

Leaders should set aside time to take stock. Ask yourself: what can this period mean for me? Encourage your team to ask themselves the same question, and share your answers as a group.











Masked man entering a shop

Final thoughts

Webinar attendees received a Team4 activity card with some of our expertise on teams which will help you work with your people on the idea of motivation. If you’re interested in finding out more about Team4, please visit our webpage or contact us.