If you had to describe the business landscape in the 2020s so far in one phrase, you could do a lot worse than: “Expect the unexpected.” All we know is that we don’t know anything. Jobs have evaporated, then reappeared with such force that employers couldn’t fill them fast enough, then started disappearing again as inflation started pushing companies back into belt-tightening mode. COVID-19, of course, only affects people – but with such rapid cold-hot-cold fluctuations, you’d think it was the economy itself that had a fever.
Even before the most recent bout of economic precarity, teams at many companies were already falling short of their revenue targets and looking for a way to turn things around. For those teams, things on the revenue side might now get even more difficult. And all of this, of course, can combine to have a profound effect on a team’s morale. Though it’s an intangible measure, low morale can do a lot to undermine a team’s revenue performance, creating a maddening feedback loop: A team misses their revenue target, their morale takes a hit as a result, and this causes them to under-perform again.
Fortunately, helping teams build passion for their missions and boost team morale – even during challenging times in the business world like the current moment – is one of Afterburner’s core objectives. Here are four adjustments to your processes and team culture that you can make to boost morale and turn yesterday’s revenue miss into tomorrow’s direct hit.
1. Stop pointing fingers and start working together
There’s a temptation, when teams miss their goal, for individual team members to try to locate the cause of the miss as far away from themselves as possible. Self-preservation often leads to finger-pointing – and that only exacerbates an already challenging situation. As it is, the team is likely struggling with low morale as a result of the target miss, and seeing their teammates turn against each other creates further stress and a sense of discord that can bring morale even lower.
“Good leaders, in general, do their best to nurture a sense of solidarity across their teams – great leaders understand that moments of adversity are the perfect time to lean into those efforts.”
The days following a target miss are a prime opportunity for leaders to emphasize, to their team, that everyone is in this together. Good leaders, in general, do their best to nurture a sense of solidarity across their teams – great leaders understand that moments of adversity are the perfect time to lean into those efforts. The more your team feels invested not just in their own success, but in the success of their colleagues, the easier it will be to replace finger-pointing with more productive conversations about how to boost your team’s performance next quarter.
2. Take the time to debrief
Nothing boosts morale like finding a silver lining in an unfortunate situation. In the wake of a target miss, that means conducting a debrief. Debriefing is a way to turn any mission, successful or not, into a learning opportunity. It involves diving deep into a completed mission to identify what worked, what didn’t, and how you can boost your performance the next time around. Elite fighter pilot squadrons debrief as a matter of course to continually enhance their execution in each subsequent mission – and corporate teams can benefit from the process in the same way.
“Taking the time to debrief is how teams learn the lessons they need to maximize their success going forward.”
For a lot of teams, though, getting into the habit of debriefing isn’t so easy. Leaders’ instincts often tell them that, when their team falls short of their revenue target, there’s no time to waste – and that the only way to keep it from happening again is to immediately start working to pull in more revenue. But taking the time to debrief is how teams learn the lessons they need to maximize their success going forward. And knowing that they’re coming away with concrete, actionable lessons for future missions will go a long way toward boosting your team’s morale.
3. Build a culture of mutual support
Built on a set of teamwork principles that establish a common mental model across your team, mutual support is essentially an act of rebellion against the finger-pointing instinct we discussed earlier. When you foster a culture of mutual support, the members of your team show up for each other in highly impactful ways, taking on tasks from task-saturated teammates or drawing attention to their teammates’ successes. A morale boost, and the performance enhancements that come as a result, usually aren’t far behind.
4. Book a Top Gun Experience
Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your team’s morale is to get everyone in the same room and get them pumped up for their mission. Afterburner’s Top Gun Experience (TGX) brings together elite military veterans and corporate teams for high-energy keynotes, simulated missions, and more. Teams come away from the event with a roadmap to closer collaboration, stronger execution, and a shared sense of purpose and passion for their mission.