I once had a boss who was the most enthusiastic person you’ll ever meet. She was always high energy, always excited, always fully present and working hard. During an important and urgent project she could be heard asking everyone, “Isn’t this fun!?

All the time.

Her enthusiasm was definitely infectious and did inspire her team–mostly volunteers–to heights of creativity that none of us could have imagined. We built the Roman Colosseum out of cardboard boxes!

Of course there were times, however, when you really wanted to answer, “Not so much.” We got tired and sometimes what she wanted us to do seemed truly impossible.

She was trying to keep us engaged and most of the time it worked. Here are some of our tips for keeping your team engaged even when they are approaching their burnout point:

  1. Stay in the trenches–All the verbal encouragement in the world falls on deaf ears if you go back in your office and close the door. Leaders are willing to do everything their team is doing and more. Participate.
  2. Listen to suggestions–That fantastic team you have assembled is a font of great ideas. Be flexible and let them make some of the decisions about the project. They will be more invested in its success than if they are just following directions.
  3. Don’t hear whining–You’ll hear it or hear about it, but making a big deal about it won’t help. Block it out. It will pass, especially if you empower your team to implement their own ideas.
  4. Keep calm and carry on–As the team leader, your attitude affects everyone else’s. Make sure you have a good one while you power through the project to completion.
  5. Plan rewards–Your team will cheer those cupcakes or lattes, especially if their energy has passed its peak. Let them have a little party and they will continue on with goodwill.
  6. Say “Thank You!”–Even if your project is in your team’s job descriptions, they will appreciate feeling appreciated. Gratitude is always in order.

Any team–or leader–can hit the wall, but you don’t have to fall apart when it happens. Be aware of the dynamics of your team, pay attention to nonverbal cues and the next time you say, “Isn’t this fun?” they just might say, “Yeah!”

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative