A few weeks ago, many people and teams adjusted to working remotely. Although there were bumps along that road for many, it wasn’t that difficult to shift to remote work. Besides, it wasn’t supposed to be for too long. A few weeks, everything will return to normal, or so we thought or hoped.
Now the new reality is starting to sink in. Your team’s interpersonal connections are fading, the watercooler discussions are a distant memory and not quite sure just how much more zoom you can handle. Your team’s performance might be suffering.
How can you breathe more life into your team? How can you prepare your team for the marathon of remote work? Here are some things to consider.
To keep your team’s motivation, ensure you have aligned members around compelling team goals. Team members are motivated when they are working toward something meaningful. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on many businesses. Many will need to pivot or change their strategy. Do your team goals still make sense in our new world? Does the team understand how their goals meet the needs of the emerging organization and that it’s critical for success? Can they each articulate this common goal with passion?
Successful remote teams have developed strategies to keep connected. Research shows that establishing regular, periodic check-ins improves the connectedness and cohesion of remote teams. Some teams meet daily to take the pulse; others meet less frequently. It doesn’t have to take long; even 15 minutes can make a big difference. Schedule them regularly to set member’s expectations. How often should you take the pulse of the team? How will you establish the rhythm?
Here are some questions to start the conversation. What do you find the hardest about working from home? What do you miss about working at the office? When are you at your best? What would improve your home “office”?
High-performance teams have each other’s back and can engage in healthy conflict. In other words, the team feels safe, psychologically. Is your team is avoiding tough conversations or topics, do people stop participating or seem distracted? If this is the case, you have some work to do. The team needs to see each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They need to be able to talk about their strengths and weaknesses openly, without criticism.
Storytelling can help the team see the strengths of other members. Ask each member to
- Tell a story about themselves that changed the way they think
- Share a story about their childhood
- What do they appreciate about each of the other members?
- What’s one suggestion they have for each member to improve teamwork?
Marathon runners will tell you that the last couple of miles are the hardest. Keeping motivated is critical to completing the race. Your team could be facing a similar point. We manage our intrinsic motivation (the most significant source of motivation) by our awareness and managing our energy. What drains your energy? What enhances your energy? Ask your team to create an energy audit and rank their energy on a scale from 1-10 throughout the day. When their energy is low, what’s going on?
Similarly, when their energy is high, what’s happening? This exercise creates awareness of what energizes us and drives our motivation.