Embracing The Year-end Crunch

I know you’re probably thinking... “Martha, why should I embrace what’s probably the most stressful and generally disliked time of the year, on top of a global pandemic? I’ll tell you why. It’s an opportunity for invaluable real-world training for your employees.


Many experiences during the year-end crunch are like those that occur during times of economic and/or business uncertainty which we are currently facing. The results for you and your team members may be lingering uncertainty, high stress levels, and lackluster motivation. It’s also during these times where it’s important all employees perform at their best- especially those who do not do so regularly.


For management, motivating low-performers is difficult, especially during a year like 2020. And that is exactly why the year-end crunch should be embraced. Have your leadership team use this time to get to know their teams better, find out what intrinsically motivates them, and experiment with solutions to engage everyone. 


In my previous blogs, I mentioned the role rewards and one-on-one meetings play to help prepare and motivate employees for the year-end crunch. While these are great ways to keep employees motivated, low performers may require a more creative approach. Here are some methods to consider:

How to Motivate low performers

Ask them for Advice-

In the business world, hierarchical norms tend to be strong, leaders give advice to their team members, not the other way around. However, research suggests that doing the opposite can be beneficial. Specifically, asking advice from the least enthusiastic employees. Often, they know exactly what to do to improve their performance. Therefore, knowing the best solutions for better performance coupled with the act of being involved in their own solution can stimulate and motivate them to achieve.


For this to be successful self-awareness is necessary. To introduce or increase self-awareness, ask searching questions during one-on-one meetings. Questions such as, “Are you aware of your limitations?” and “How well do you empathize with your teammate?” help jump-start the process.

Create Friendly Competition-

When kept in check, competition is a great motivator. For maximum effectiveness, develop friendly competition in a team. This way low and high performers are mixed. Sit back and watch knowledge sharing, training, support, and bonding transform team dynamics and increase motivation.  


Some things to keep in mind: 

  1. Make sure the competition is related to year-end goals 
  2. Always reinforce the team aspect 
  3. Create checks and balances to keep play fair 
  4. A mix of individual and team responsibilities ensures no one person is overloaded.

Switch it Up-

Low-performing, unengaged, repetitive work creates the perfect storm. How can an employee who can’t find the motivation to complete their regular work, be motivated during the year-end crunch? One way is to introduce something different by switching up the work. If this is a realistic possibility in your business, use it.


After the new assignment is complete, return the employee to their original task. You may find that once an unengaged employee returns with renewed motivation.


This year keeping employees motivated and engaged through an extended period of economic or business uncertainty may feel like a matter of survival. On top of that, the year-end crunch time can be stressful. However, it’s worth taking the time and effort to reframe your mindset. Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the opportunity for leadership growth. The motivation techniques developed during times like these will always be useful.


If you’d like to discuss other ways to empower yourself and to motivate your low-performers, contact me.