Motivating Your Team From a Distance

March 26, 2020  |  Posted by in Communication Skills, Leadership Development

As a leader, one of your most critical tasks is motivating your employees. Without motivated employees, your team will suffer from lackluster performance and employees who settle to merely ‘get by’ rather than strive to reach their full potential. Employee motivation can be even more challenging during times when you’re not in the same place as your team. An often overlooked, but extremely important way to motivate your employees, particularly during times of social distancing, is through communication.

Unfortunately, there is a common misconception in the business world that “proper” communication between leaders and their employees must take the form of long, formalized conversations in meeting rooms where you provide feedback and performance metrics. While this type of formalized communication can be valuable, it falls short of creating a truly synergized and motivated team—and it’s nearly impossible to do during times when everyone is working from home! So, what is the best way to motivate your employees, especially from afar? Below are a few ways to establish frequent, informal communication on your team to boost employee motivation and performance:

  1. Set up recurring weekly meetings. Such meetings demonstrate to your employees that your lines of communication are always open. It gives your employees the sense that you care about them and their opinions and value what they have to say. When your employees are remote, frequent virtual meetings provide the same benefits as in-person meetings and allow you to invest in your relationships with your team!
  2. Encourage and facilitate opportunities for causal, personal conversation. “Water-cooler” talk is no waste of time. Casual interactions, even if it’s 5-10 minutes at the beginning of your Zoom or Skype call, are an opportunity for you to communicate your character to your employees and vice versa. When you get to know your employees on a more personal level, they trust you more, which leads to greater collaboration and honest feedback at work.
  3. Team-building activities. Perhaps even more important than one-to-one conversations between a leader and an employee are all-hands meetings. Whatever your approach to team building (i.e. games, team lunches) it is integral to get everyone together on a scheduled basis for idea-sharing, brainstorming and good old-fashioned fun. While these types of activities are typically done in person, there are ways you can do them virtually. Team building activities build engagement and serve as an avenue for you and your employees to develop relationships, collaborate, and get on the same page—which makes for a more productive work environment.
  4. If you communicate it, you must do it! Once you establish an open and frequent communication policy on your team, you must do what is communicated if you are going to reap the benefits of increased employee motivation. Simply listening to your employees’ honest feedback and ideas isn’t enough—you must take action to implement what is discussed. Otherwise, your employees will see your communication policy as no more than empty words and their motivation will wane.

Work environments with strictly formalized communication policies, or even worse, zero communication, can stifle employees. If you want to fulfill your leadership duty of motivating your team to perform, follow the tips above to establish an informal, open, and frequent communication policy on your team!

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