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  • Writer's pictureClaire Friday

The power of the pep talk.

"It takes two flints to make a fire." - Louisa May Alcott

You've probably heard the term: pep talk. What comes to mind when you initially hear this term? Perhaps you envision a sports team huddled together in a locker room before a big game. You may also think of a band who is about to take the stage to entertain thousands of people. Whatever you imagine when you think of a 'pep talk,' you understand that it is the group huddle of encouragement that psychs everyone up for what they are about to undertake. There are a variety of emotions that build up during the big huddle or team cheer. Some people could exhibit nerves or fear; and others could feel the rush of adrenaline before taking on their passion.

I consider myself to be an athletic person. When I was a teenager, I was a competitive Irish dancer for 10 years. In fact, I had always grown up with dance and movement in my life. I also had some fantastic coaches. Even now as I try to maintain a level of fitness everyday, I have some great motivators to remind me that the sweat is worth it. And having a pep talk with your team reminds them of just that: it's all worth it.

The power of the pep talk has a shared purpose: to get everyone on the same page, feel good about the challenge, and get ready to be the best that they can be.

Usually a pep talk comes from a team leader or head of a department. They are the ones who set the tone for the rest of the team. It is their vision, direction, and care for the performance and well-being of their team that instigates encouragement. Without encouragement, there is no excelling in business. There is no staff retention. And there is a massive lack of self-esteem. As human beings, we need encouragement and we need to feel as though we are contributors to a greater good. And we look to a leader to give us a pat on the back or a pep talk.

Here's a shocking reality: there are leaders who do not encourage their team or get them together to remind them that they are a collective machine capable of extraordinary achievements. And there is no excuse to not encourage your team or organization as a collective.

There is much importance in rallying your team together and inspiring them to be the best that they can be.

Here are Done By Friday's top reasons why Pep Talks are important:

#1 - Pep talks motivate and synchronize the team. "Operating in synch expands our openness to outsiders and makes us more likely to engage in "pro-social" behavior. In other words, coordinating makes us better people - and being better people makes us better coordinators." - Dan Pink (Excerpt from the book WHEN: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing)

When teams are in sync and motivated, they perform better as a collective. When everyone is on the same page and working towards a shared goal, that is when the magic happens. Pep talks align the course and help to prevent team members from steering off in the wrong direction. Synchronicity is the key to better communication, meeting deadlines with more timeliness, and a polished product. Cameraderie creates incredible milestones in business and the personal lives of those involved.

#2 - Everyone needs to feel like they have someone in their corner. This couldn't be truer. Each one of us wants to know that there is someone rooting for us. Someone needs to have our back and support our work, decisions, and accomplishments. Leaders who give pep talks to their staff, team, etc. instill the fact that the team has someone in their corner and someone has their backs. Self-esteem is often times an overlooked quality that needs to be nurtured for optimal performance and self-worth. This can be cultivated right in the workplace with a genuine respect and care for the team; but it must come from the captain of the ship: the leader or coach of the team.

#3 - Regular encouragement inspires consistently better performance in the workplace. When someone gives you a compliment or calls out your vitality to the performance of the team or company, you feel like you want to perform better, right? Meaningful contributions to the success of a company or organization starts with valuing an employee. To instill value is a way of encouragement, reminding the person that they are an asset and irreplaceable. Encouragement should be something that leaders and managers are required to foster in their teams and employees. Of course there are books and manuals written on this topic and techniques on how to make individuals understand that they are valued - I could write an entire blog post on this one topic. Encourage your team on a daily basis.

#4 - Spoken words are some of the most powerful tools that we have. It is true that there is power in our words, particularly when we speak. My mother and father had many successful years working in advertising. They always used to say to me that words are some of the most powerful tools that we have. The older I got, the more I realized how important that statement is. Verbally charting the course, encouraging your team, and reminding those how important the journey or task at hand is speaks success into existence.

Here's my question to you: do you give your team regular pep talks? Are you the encourager?

'But I don't have the ability to psych my team up, Claire. I'm not an encourager and I don't have the skills to be a good coach.' I highly doubt that. Everyone does. You motivate yourself to get out of bed in the morning, don't you? You encourage yourself to stay the course, do the best you can on a daily basis, and be awesome in general, right? Well, there is no reason you can't do that for your team or staff. The next time you get nervous about giving your team a pep talk, try these few simple steps to get yourself out of your comfort zone. It will help!:

  • Pretend like you're talking to yourself when speaking to others, and don't worry about being perfect with your wording.

  • Be specific in what you're encouraging your team to do.

  • Remember that you are the one who sets the pace. If you're direct and motivating, the rest of your team will jump on board.

  • If you have to write out quick bullet points of what you're going to say to your team and look at it while you're talking to them, by all means do it! No one is going to think you're unprepared. You actually look more prepared.

  • Encourage, encourage, encourage! No matter who you are and what you do, you have people around you who need encouragement. Even if you tell someone, 'Thank you for all you do,' that's a start! Or even be specific: 'I really like the way you handled or did X.' A little goes a long way. Single good people out in pep talks, 'Hey, did you see the way Jane handled X the other day?' Or 'Congratulations to John on his successful X last week.' Start there. You'll see a difference in the way your team reacts and performs.

Blog takeaway: I leave you with a few links to reference more information on pep talks and how they are beneficial to the growth and prosperity of teams:

  • Forbes: The Science of Pep Talks to Build Winning Teams

  • 'A good coach is able to talk for a few minutes and make players - and anyone within earshot - think they can do the impossible.' Here are some good coach pep talks. They might even inspire you!

  • Finally, here is a famous clip from the 2004 movie, Miracle. Herb Brooks, played by Kurt Russell, was the coach of the USA National Hockey Team that upset the Soviet Union in 1980.

Happy Friday!

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