Making remote management a success - motivation, team spirit and managing performance

28 April 2020

Motivating your employees and maintaining team spirit and performance while working remotely.

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Maintaining your team spirit

On top of simply organising and collaborating to get the work done, a key aspect of your communication in a remote team is maintaining your team spirit so your employees actually feel like they are still part of a team. Having a non-work related chat helps your team members to make social connections and remembering special occasions like birthdays helps to recreate that ‘team feeling’ found in a traditional work environment.
 
Non-work-related ‘watercooler’ chats can help to maintain connections with each other, so create chat channels for topics like books, hobbies or box sets. If you enjoy music, create a team Spotify list that you can all add to and listen to as a shared experience. 
 
Use your team meetings as an opportunity to celebrate any recent successes as this can keep everyone up to date on the team’s progress while making sure people feel acknowledged and appreciated for their work, especially team achievements.
 
The simple things like ‘shout outs’ are just as effective in a remote team as they are in a physical office. Starting the day with some praise and recognition for recent work is a boost to anyone’s morale!

Developing and motivating the team

It’s easy to start thinking of your remote team only in terms of getting work done. Just because you’re working in a different way doesn’t mean your employees' goals and aspirations disappear. If you talk to them more on a one on one basis in the coming weeks, you’ll have a lot of time to talk about their development. Consider what projects or tasks may be coming up that your team members can get involved in to help them develop and learn. 
  
In a lot of instances, your team might get stuck at a particular point in a task and they need to know it’s ok to reach out for help. Use FaceTime or Skype to coach them through it, as you would if you were face to face in the office. 30 – 45 minutes coaching online can make a huge difference to their competence and confidence to complete a task effectively.

Managing performance

If you’re managing a remote team, in most cases you likely won’t have information about when someone ends or starts their day, how many hours they’re working or what their day looks like. This can be a good thing. It means you aren’t relying on tactics like micromanagement to assess if your team is doing well. Instead, you’re forced to use other ways of monitoring success.
  
Don’t track hours… In most cases, it doesn’t matter if your team member starts the day at 6am or 12pm or puts in a consistent 8 hours/day or opts for a varied schedule. It’s hard to gauge this remotely and might breakdown trust in the team. Unless there is a business reason for team members working specific hours, discuss and agree on the level of flexibility together and manage to that plan. …Focus on results. Concentrate on outcomes. Keep track of whether a team member meets deadlines, produces high-quality work and is communicative and collaborative with colleagues.
 
 Customer Service Teams are a bit different. In some cases, we do need to track hours more closely, for example in our customer service teams. If you manage a team where there are set hours for managing calls, talk to each team member to understand their situation and think about how you might deliver for our customers through your whole team. You could consider options like staggering hours to help team members who need to care for elderly or sick relatives or have young children at home. 
  
As managers we all need to maintain regular performance conversations with your team members, updating them about their progress and any pitfalls regularly. This not only helps them stay on track but also enables you to monitor their work effectively. Set up 121 meetings through Skype, phone calls or any other communication tools. Invest time and effort in connecting with them on performance as well as having friendly and social conversations, keeping your connection with each person strong and human.
 
Material extracts taken from the following articles: