Preparing for the Long Run
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.
Goal Clarity & Purpose
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?
Remote Teams Need To Establish A Rhythm Or Heartbeat
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”?
Building Trust and Psychological Safety
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.
Here are some great ideas on how to create connectedness when you and your team are working remotely.
Inc recently published an article about the three best practices of Google’s remote teams.
HBR recently published this article about virtual teams and how to prepare them for the long haul.
Motivation Workshop Online
Need to get your team on track faster?
I’d recommend the motivation factor accelerator program. In as little as 8 hours, offered as 4 x 2 hour online workshops, your team will learn how to manage their motivation, how to align toward more meaningful work as well discover the strengths and talents of themselves and their teammates. Multiple teams can attend the same workshop, increase its cost-effectiveness.
About The Author
Founder, InSync Executive Coaching
I work with senior leaders interested in developing their effectiveness to empower and enrich their teams and produce tangible results. Effective leaders demonstrate courage, humility and discipline. As easy as it is to say, for leaders to show courage, humility and discipline daily is challenging. As a certified coach, I can help you maintain the necessary behaviours that will deliver measurable results in your leadership, remain relevant and inspire others. I help teams to move up the performance curve to become high-performance. They will increase their effectiveness through team awareness of their underlying motivations, creating safety for difficult conversations and managing conflict effectively.