With modern technology, it’s possible to manage your team while they are in another building, another state, or even another country. But while remotely managing your team members has its merits, it also has its challenges including the increased difficulty of creating a productive environment and lack of personal connections.
Startups hire talent to grow, realizing they need extra help to reach their goals. There’s just one problem — the team members will never be as motivated as you are or have the same vision you have. What then can you, the team leader, do in order to overcome these challenges?
How to Keep Your Remote Team Motivated
This article will cover the top methods of motivating employees in an organization in the long term.
1. Agree on the Type and Frequency of Communication
Getting the right balance between managing your team and letting them do their work is a must for effective leaders. On one hand, you want to know where they are in relation to their objectives and the team’s goal. On the other hand, you don’t want to micromanage them either because it’s a sign that you don’t trust them to do their jobs.
For this reason, you and your team members have to agree on the what, when, and how of your communication – what will you discuss when you contact each other (i.e., work-related matters), when you should contact each other, and how you will contact each other. Your team members have different preferences so it’s important to know what will work for everybody.
For example, you can agree on a quick 15 minutes call on a daily basis or weekly meetings, or a twice-a-month video conference with emails in between. Your team members can then be allowed to work at their own pace for as long as they deliver the expected results.
2. Use Video Calls to Your Advantage
Let’s face it. There’s nothing like face-to-face meetings where everybody’s in the same room, mainly because communication involves both verbal and non-verbal cues. But when you’re the leader of a remote team, you don’t have the opportunity to conduct face-to-face meetings whenever you want because the others obviously aren’t in the same building.
This is where video calls become useful in your team management. You have several video call apps to choose from, such as Zoom, which allows for face-to-face (sort of) sessions no matter where your team members are in the world. You may not be in the same room but you can still see their facial expressions and body language, both of which are crucial ineffective communication.
3. Call the Others on Your Phone
We live in a world where emails and text messages are more popular than phone calls because these allow for emoticons and the like. These forms of communication are great for discussing issues requiring in-depth analysis (i.e., emails with attachments) and for delivering feedback but these have their disadvantages, too.
The recipients, for one thing, can misunderstand the text or email because it doesn’t have tone, so to speak. A person in a bad mood can misconstrue an otherwise positive email; letters can be misunderstood because these don’t really allow for subtleties and nuances.
Call! The person at the other end of the line will have more opportunity to determine your mood based on the tone of your voice so there’s less risk of being misconstrued.
4. Be Respectful of Their Time
If you live in different time zones, you should be mindful of the time when you’re sending emails and texts, calling them on your phone, and sending them requests for video calls. You don’t want them to do these rude things to you so it makes sense that you respect their time, too.
While time flexibility is among the advantages of remote working, it should still be used with respect to time zones. If you’re sending an email and expecting a response, tell your recipient that you don’t expect it until his or her day starts.
Be mindful of their work-life balance and respect their flexible schedules.
5. Use the Available Technology
There are so many communication technologies, such as apps, available that there’s no excuse not to get in touch with your team members whenever necessary. You should use these apps for quickly communicating with your team, whether you want to ask for a quick update or a short rundown, instead of waiting for their email responses.
Choose from Slack, Zoom, Google Chat, LinkedIn, and Skype.
6. Meet in Person Regularly
Technology may provide you and your team with the means to communicate even when you aren’t in the same state but it has its limitations, management-wise. Go the extra mile, and meet your team in person on a regular basis, a way to strengthen your personal connections, listen to their concerns, give positive feedback, give employee recognition for their great work, and resolve issues on the spot if needed. This ensures great employee retention. Also, a great way to train them on new skills, which can be a great motivator to their professional growth.
Being a great leader even when you aren’t in the same place all the time shouldn’t be a problem with these tips.