Motivating teams through change

Our company is going through constant restructuring and change. My team are demotivated and our team performance is low. Team members are doing just enough of what they need to do.

How do I pick up the team when they openly say, “what’s the point as we may not be here tomorrow or we may have yet another manager!”


This is a challenging situation to be in. Many of the executives I work with are fatigued by the restructuring and change occurring in their organisations. However, change is the one constant in our lives and how well we adapt to and manage change will factor into personal and professional success.

The key is to find a motivator, how can team members benefit by investing in the team’s success regardless of whether or not they will still be a part of this team or even if the team or project no longer exists in the future?

Prior to doing this it may be useful (for both yourself and your team members) to understand how individuals in the team are feeling or coping with the current changes.

A place to start is to help them understand how they are managing with the changes taking place. Take time to listen to their concerns, the aim is not to fix or solve it, but to acknowledge where the person is at. Refer to a previous blog that I wrote  which may be useful in helping to identify this.

Point team members at their own personal development, this can be a useful motivator moving forward. Ask the following questions:

  • What skills and capabilities does the current situation require you to use and develop?  
  • How will this benefit your career choices and success in the future?
  • What are the skills required to see this project through to completion?
  • How will your personal reputation (brand) be impacted? Each of your team members has a reputation, what are they known for? Create awareness of the impact their current performance will have on their future.

Encourage your team members to create a personal plan (this doesn’t have to be War and Peace!). A one-page document or the back of a post-it note will do. The important thing is that they put some time aside to plan the next six months with regards to how they want to continue to grow and develop in their current role so that their careers can continue to grow and develop going forward. Encourage team members to include a list of capabilities in the plan so they have something solid to focus on with regards to skills development.

Below are three capabilities and some suggestions on how to continue to build these going forward, ask team members to review the list below and encourage them to add additional ones. This can be added to their personal plans, which can be linked to your company’s development planning process if you have one.

Managing change

Reflect on how you manage yourself whilst experiencing change. We often focus on managing change; however, we can neglect our own process for managing ourselves whilst navigating through change.  

What are your three greatest strengths? How can you utilise these to support yourself in your current situation?

Observe others who manage the change process effectively. Is it possible to shadow them for a day, they may have stakeholder management plans that they would be willing to share with you. What tools do they use to effectively manage clients and stakeholders during the change process? Consider whether it would be useful to develop similar tools for the change you are involved in.

Take time to understand the change cycle and how it applies to what you and fellow team members are experiencing.


Resilience in psychology refers to the idea of an individual’s tendency to cope with stress and adversity. Building personal resilience will help to reduce anxiety and stress and to absorb high levels of change while maintaining personal resourcefulness. This in turn will help you to stay healthy and happy and perform at your highest abilities.

Create a list of all the things that are causing stress and distract from your productivity. Next to each one, write a few words that describe how you typically react to it. Then go back and write at least two different ways that you could respond to these that will support you to be more productive and focused, thus reducing your stress.

Involve team members in a discussion about the current issues that are causing stress for the team. As a team brainstorm approaches you could implement to reduce the stress factors and help the team cope more effectively. You may find this useful to revisit at team meetings.


Building relationships is an important part of ensuring a project’s success, how well are team members doing at networking and connecting within the business.

Identify the key people/stakeholders in your company and investigate whether there are meetings or forums that they attend that you may also attend or contribute to.  Use this to build stronger connections.

Create a system for ensuring that you maintain contact with key people in your network.

Look for positive role models and mentors who inspire you. What elements could you adopt from them to help improve your performance?

Accountability and self-management is the final piece. Each of your team members is responsible for their own development, career success and deliverables. What will they do to ensure that they take responsibility?

Aligning the team around a common purpose for improving individual and team performance will help to motivate the team. Get the team to explore your question above. How will they pick themselves up in the current environment and how would this benefit them.

Good luck.

Pollyanna Lenkic is the founder of Perspectives Coaching, an Australian based coaching and training company. In 1990 she co-founded a specialist IT recruitment consultancy in London, which grew to employ 18 people and turnover £11 million ($27 million). In this blog Pollyanna answers questions from our readers on issues they are experiencing leading or being part of a team.  She offers insights on teams and team dynamics. For support and information on team days run by Perspectives Coaching see here.


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