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How to conduct a team reset and turbocharge employee morale


Are you looking for a surefire way to boost employee morale while strengthening employee engagement and commitment to your organization?

Do you often wonder how to:

  • Set your team members up for happiness and success?
  • Create an environment in which people feel motivated to do their best?

If so, have you considered implementing a “reset?”

What is a reset?

A reset is essentially a platform for sharing, brainstorming and planning. Rather than issuing top-down authoritarian commands, a reset is about group strategizing and co-creating sessions. Feedback from all parties—across all levels of an organization—is welcome.

At the organizational, team and individual level, a reset involves discussing questions such as:

  • What has worked well?
  • What can we let go of?
  • What is our focus for the coming year, both at the organizational level and at the specific team level?
  • Are we aligned with our company’s strategic 5- or 10-year plan? What adjustments do we need to make?
  • How can we better support each other and empower our co-workers to be successful?

Ideally, follow up on the large group meeting with one-on-one meetings between employees and their managers to discuss what the outcomes mean for each individual employee.

When should you do a reset?

Organizations can engage in this activity as often as their leadership elects to – annually, biannually or even quarterly. However, because of the significant time, effort and resources involved, engaging in a reset once per year is most practical for the average organization.

As for scheduling, a reset can theoretically happen at any time. Work around your business cycle and the busiest times of year for your company. For most organizations, the very end of the year (Q4) or the beginning of the year (sometime during Q1) makes the most sense.

This also tends to be the period of time following employees’ annual reviews, so performance objectives and goal setting are already top of mind for everyone.

Think of a reset as a pause between chapters:

  • The last calendar year and the upcoming calendar year
  • Between fiscal quarters
  • During other natural transitions specific to your business
  • Following a big organizational change

Pull your entire team aside for a day to evaluate the prior period, refocus, refresh and prepare for the future.

Benefits of a reset:

Employee morale –> discretionary effort –> business results

A reset lets employees:

  • Actively participate in their company’s planning
  • Link their individual performance to organizational goals
  • Have a voice in how they spend their time, talents and resources

As a result, employees can:

  • Obtain more autonomy over their work
  • Take ownership of their work
  • Focus primarily on what they enjoy and do well, rather than wasting time trying to build “flat skills”
  • Feel more engaged and excited about coming to work
  • Connect more deeply with team members and gain a greater understanding of how their work impacts each other
  • Build trust among team members
  • Foster cohesion across teams and align on the same goals

In other words, they have “skin in the game” and know how they help to achieve overall success.

This is incredibly meaningful for people and enhances employee morale dramatically. When employees feel included, heard, understood, valued and empowered, morale goes up and people put in greater discretionary effort. This leads to stronger performance, exceptional client service and more innovation and idea sharing.

You can draw a straight line between employee morale and discretionary effort and tangible business results, whether it’s improving sales, market share or client retention. It doesn’t matter if yours is a company of 70, 700 or 7,000 – the outcome is the same.

Other great benefits of a reset for employers?

  • By allowing employees to exert more control over their responsibilities and goals, and therefore letting their natural abilities and interests shine, you can better pinpoint where you have skill gaps on your team and recruit in a more targeted way.
  • Particularly for employees who work remotely or from a geographical distance, you can help to instill a greater sense of community within your organization. Take this opportunity to remind them that they’re part of something bigger than themselves – and prevent potential feelings of workplace isolation.

The reset process

1. Plant the seeds

A few weeks in advance of the big reset day, send out a communication to your entire team about this exercise that will take place.

  • Introduce them to the concept of a reset.
  • Describe what will take place and what you expect of them.
  • Explain how this will benefit themselves, their team and the whole organization.
  • Block off a day on their calendar and tell them to plan to meet, without any disruptions.

This should give employees plenty of notice to start collecting their thoughts and brainstorming ideas. Your reset meeting will be much more beneficial and meaningful if employees have had time to think about what they want to contribute versus being put on the spot.

As you continue this annual exercise, employees will come to anticipate it each year.

2. Hold a large, all-day team meeting

Ideally, this meeting takes place with everyone together, either:

  • Online via videoconferencing
  • In person
  • A mixture of both to include remote or geographically distant employees

There’s a special synergy and sense of community that takes place when people are all together and actively collaborate in real time. They build off each other’s energy. What one person says can spark another idea in someone else, or people can realize unexpected shared passions and form working partnerships.

This is why a more passive form of collecting feedback, such as employee surveys, won’t be effective in this situation.

As a business leader, don’t forget the guidelines for how to run a successful meeting.

3. Follow up with employees individually

The next time managers meet with their direct reports following the larger group meeting, they can discuss the outcomes of the meeting and how these affect the employee’s specific role. Again, confirm what employees:

  • Find most fulfilling in their work
  • Consider to be reasonable expectations for their performance
  • Need from you, their manager, to be successful

Then, you can work together to craft a personal development plan and individual goals for the year. Be sure to match each individual goal with an organizational goal. It’s very important for employees to understand their impact and how they serve a larger purpose.

By the end of this exercise, hopefully everyone feels motivated, focused and connected, and ready to tackle the year ahead with enthusiasm and drive!

4. Maintain regular one-on-one meetings with team members

Managers should already meet with their direct reports at least every few weeks – if not weekly. Throughout the year, there should be continual conversations between leadership and team members touching on:

Really, there shouldn’t be any surprises for either managers or employees about where things stand, no matter if a reset happened last week or 10 months ago.

Summing it all up

Setting aside a day for a reset with your team – plus one-on-one follow-up time with each employee – to plan the upcoming year is incredibly beneficial for enhancing employee morale, engagement and motivation. Involving employees in this process allows them to feel their voice is heard and that they have a say in their day-to-day work. It also gives them a sense of deeper connection and community within your organization. Additionally, they understand how their role contributes to organizational success and serves a larger purpose.

For more tips on how to engage your employees during transitional periods, download our free magazine: The Insperity guide to business resiliency in challenging times.