Where did the enthusiasm go after the holidays?

Dear Ken Keller:

It’s mid-January, and I am already worried about how the year is going to end up. Let me explain.

2015 ended on a high note; we had a nice party for employees and their significant others. I was able to provide bonus checks for everyone, and we kept a skeleton crew working over the holidays with reduced hours.

I was thinking that if everyone came back to work rested, healthy and ready to go, the year would start off strong and we’d be making progress.

Only we’re not. It seems like the December fizz has already gone flat and everyone seems to be ho-hum about everything.

This is not what I wanted, and I need help turning things around to get the energy and enthusiasm back. You know– the fizz. – Marie I.

Dear Marie,

You did not detail what kind of progress you were hoping to make this month, so I will make an educated guess that you were hoping to enjoy an uptick in revenue. Maybe add some new clients. Get the people in support roles more engaged.

I’m also wondering if you had hoped that the “era of good feelings” that everyone had in December when you hosted a nice company party, handed out checks and had people take time off so they could sleep in, visit family and friends, see movies and so forth would carry over into January.

Let me bring you back to earth. Your sales won’t increase until you understand what your sales cycle is and what your complete sales funnel looks like. If your sales team took off half (or more) of December and didn’t get right back into things in January, you are now three or four weeks behind where you want to be in the process.

If your salespeople haven’t been out seeing prospects and clients this month, that will just add to the delay in seeing increases in sales revenue and new clients.

It would help if you planned out incentives and announced them in advance. These kinds of programs will motivate some in sales, but others are going to need to be pushed. The question is what sticks and carrots you are using, and what are you waiting for? Permission from someone?

As for the rest of the team, for those who are paid hourly or salaried and earn a once-a-year bonus, there is a lot of time between now and when those checks will be handed out in December. This is an assumption you will hand them out in December 2016.

I am not a psychologist, but I know a little something about motivating people. The rewards have to be immediately earned and attainable. In other words, don’t demotivate your employees. Start thinking about what you can do to motivate your team to reduce costs now, with the goal of a payout of some sort at the end of next month (February).

The only way any of this will happen is for you to start, and stay, leading from the front. Be the first one in the office, the last one to leave. Set an example of being the hardest-working person in the company. Be visible. Get out of your office, start going on sales calls, post charts for everyone to see how they are doing on the incentive plans. Remember, everyone wants to know what is in it for them. You need to tell them and show them, and most importantly, follow through with checks and prizes.

I hope this helps.