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The Balancing Act of Work-Life Balance

The Balancing Act of Work-Life Balance

How many times have you sat at your desk eating lunch while still working? Have you ever felt guilty about taking your break? How many times have you worked through your break telling yourself that you will take a break later? If you are guilty of these, don’t worry – you’re not alone, and your team is feeling similar. In fact, studies show that employees are working longer hours than usual, especially with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has definitely changed the way we work, making it more difficult to redefine the boundaries between your professional and personal lives. In fact, the stress level of employees has increased by 20 percent since 1990. Maintaining a culture of work-life balance has become a greater challenge, especially when boundaries are blurred and employees are working more hours than before, all while organizations and individuals are adapting to these changing times. 

When Work-Life Balance Fails

It is evident that teams are failing to prioritize work-life balance as they struggle to navigate through this new way of work, which has led to a lack of productivity, creativity, motivation, and more. With 50% of employers failing to support their employees physical well-being, work-life balance will continue to fall. 

When leaders fail to instill work-life balance into their team, their emotional, physical, and mental health crumbles. With additional work hours allotted into our schedule, employees are more likely to experience mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. Research has shown that employees who work more than 55 hours per week are at a higher risk of a heart attack and stroke. The end result: your team is feeling stressed more than ever. 

Not only do teams feel stressed with their growing workloads, but this stress is snowballing into bigger issues, such as employee absenteeism. Think about it – if your team is feeling stressed, chances are if they aren’t physically absent, they are mentally absent. Absenteeism can affect productivity, finances, and workplace morale, which directly impacts the bottom line. Beyond the financial impact, with 30% of your team not feeling motivated, teams are procrastinating in failing to progress which inhibits growth potential in the individuals, and the organization as a whole.  

Now you may be wondering, if the repercussions of poor work-life balance are severe, then why don’t we prioritize it better? Although every team is different, there are some universal emotional intelligence tactics you can bring into your team to mitigate some of the work-life balance concerns, 

Balance It Out with Emotional Intelligence

A key component in effectively managing your team’s work-life balance is helping them tune into their emotional intelligence. Their EQ competencies will help in managing their work-life balance. As a leader, it begins with listening to their own emotions, to ensuring they feel acknowledged and heard. 

Listed below are some crucial EQ competencies that will assist your team in finding their work-life balance. 

Self Awareness

Self Awareness is all about understanding yourself, from your needs to your emotions, Once your team becomes in tune with themselves and can understand what they need, they will be able to set boundaries. Being self aware can also assist your team in recognizing when work-life balance is falling apart. Acknowledging when current work-life needs to be prioritized is one of the first steps to improvement. 

Self Actualization

Self Actualization is the drive to continually improve yourself through engaging in activities and objectives that lead to a fulfilling and enjoyable lifestyle. Individuals on the path to self actualization live by their values; they know and are continuously on the lookout for activities that give their life meaning and purpose. Knowing what fulfills your team will help support you in creating more work-life balance for them. Encouraging your team to allocate time for these activities in their personal lives will ultimately contribute to their happiness and productivity at work. 

Assertiveness

Being assertive is associated with communicating your emotions, beliefs, and opinions openly, in a non-offensive manner. Assertiveness assists in standing your ground when it comes to work-life balance. Leaders need to stimulate conversation around communicating boundaries within the team, and set guidelines for when the line is crossed. If boundaries have been overstepped, assertiveness will support your team in communicating that to leadership, so that they are aware of the boundaries and won’t repeat the same mistake. 

Improve Your Work-Life Balance 

Now that you are aware of which EQ competencies will assist your team the most in managing their work-life balance, try these two strategies to enhance your organization’s work-life balance culture!  

Unplug and Unwind

It is easy to become accustomed to the 24/7 work culture, especially in a digital world. You find yourself telling your team members that you’re only an email or message away, but boundaries need to be in place so that you’re not attached to your job all day. The same boundaries are important to encourage throughout the entire organization. For example, instead of sending your email after the team has logged off for the day, try and save it for the morning to allow them to unplug and unwind for the day. Some tips to instill in your team for proper communication boundaries are below.

– Remove work communications once your workday has ended.
– Set notifications to turn off after you clock out.
– Inform others of the decision, so they are aware of the appropriate response times

Encourage Setting Boundaries

While it’s great to have a team that is always accepting new opportunities, it’s even more crucial to know their limits so that you can effectively manage their workload. 

Communicate to your team that they don’t have to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity you give them. Encourage your team to set that boundary by instead of saying ‘yes’, say ‘Yes and….’. For instance, let’s say your employee has a report due tomorrow, but you ask if they’re able to help you prepare for an upcoming meeting. 

The employee is aware that if they take this on, it will impede on the time they have set to work on the report due tomorrow. Instead of immediately saying “yes”, create a safe space where they can inform you of their workload by saying “Yes I could help you in preparing for the upcoming meeting, and something that is on my plate is the report that is due tomorrow. If I help you out, this will affect my schedule to work on the report, could I get an extension on the report?” 

By encouraging boundary setting, everyone will be aware of the workload and the team can make adjustments as necessary. If your team does not voice their concerns, their workload threshold will max out, creating a negative impact on their work life balance. 

The Balancing Act of Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is crucial to maintaining productivity, positive workplace morale, and a healthy bottom line in the organization. In return, your team’s stress levels will lessen, helping to mitigate the costs of absenteeism. By tuning into your emotional intelligence, you will be able to better manage your team’s work-life balance, and instill a culture of wellbeing and balance that encourages healthy boundary setting.

Do you need help in enhancing your team’s work-life balance? Book a call with us here – we’re here to listen and help you find the perfect balance. 

Interested in learning more about setting boundaries? Check out our blog, Setting Realistic Business Boundaries for 2021 to see how you can implement strategies to respect your team members’ boundaries at work! 

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The Balancing Act of Work-Life Balance

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Setting Realistic Business Boundaries for 2021

Setting Realistic Business Boundaries for 2021

The past year has undeniably changed the way we work. Returning to the office full time has been put on hold, and remote work has taken over. With remote work as our “new normal”, the issue of maintaining work-life balance has come to light. The truth is, boundaries between professional and personal lives are now blurred. A study by Bloomberg found that employees around the world are now working more than ever before, with employees in Canada, USA, and the UK, working as much as 10 hours per day. 

With your new office in the comfort of your own home, it’s easy to stay in your work mode and never stop. However, as we mentioned in Breaking Up with Being Busy, when employees are overworked, it can have adverse effects on their performance, productivity, and emotional well-being. 

Business leaders need to instill the message that it is okay to set boundaries in their work day to their team members. Boundaries do not have to be physical and tangible, but can also take form as emotional and intangible limits. Once these boundaries are stated, leaders need to acknowledge and respect these expectations and boundaries. With such a fine line dividing personal and professional lifestyles, setting boundaries will prevent the team from crashing and burning. By establishing boundaries, leaders will see a stronger culture, increased productivity, and higher employee retention within their team. 

Setting Boundaries with Emotional Intelligence

Leaders need to understand that everyone has different boundaries. There is no complete set of boundaries that will work for everyone in your team. Setting realistic boundaries begins with knowing your employees on an individual level. One way to understand your team on a deeper level is by tuning into your emotional intelligence. 

Emotional intelligence is beneficial in building relationships with others; by effectively managing your emotions, you will be able to notice how your emotions impact your relationships. A strong foundation between a leader and their subordinates is formed from a basis of understanding and acknowledging individual differences. 

Below, we have highlighted strategies on how to set clear boundaries with your team, by using your emotional intelligence competencies! 

1. Understanding Your Team Member’s Needs 

As highlighted above, it is essential to understand what works best for your team. Take time to ask your employees how you can best support them, by asking them questions such as, “What is your ideal work environment?” or “What is your preferred method of communication?”. By obtaining a sense of their preferred conditions, you will be able to adapt your practices to build an environment suited towards their needs. For example, one employee’s ideal work environment may start off later than the usual 9-5 schedule, as they dedicate their mornings to caring for their children. To assist in this transition, a leader can offer flexible working hours. Instead of starting at 9am, allow your team member to start at 10am so they have the extra hour to tend to their kids. 

Your emotional intelligence competencies of flexibility and empathy will aid you in understanding your team’s needs. Flexibility is the ability to adapt emotions, thoughts and behaviors to unfamiliar situations. Being flexible will allow you to implement new solutions in creating boundaries for your team. In addition, empathy is concerned with recognizing, understanding, and appreciating how others feel. Leading with empathy will make your team members feel heard, seen, and cared for. Taking the time to understand your employees’ needs should not be optional. Rather, it should be seen as a required step in effective team management. 

2. Ask for Feedback

Again, there is no formula in establishing boundaries. Boundaries need to be catered towards an individual’s needs. Once you have a clear understanding of your team member’s needs, it’s time to create an action plan to make any necessary changes, then follow up with asking for feedback. Obtaining feedback is crucial so you know what is working well and what needs to be refined. Garnering feedback from your team members shows how you truly care; it is within your best interest to respect their boundaries. 

This is where your emotional intelligence competency, reality testing, kicks in. Reality testing is the capability to remain objective by seeing things as they are; this competency enables you to realize that while something may work for one team member, may not necessarily work for another. By tuning into your reality testing, you are actively challenging your assumptions as you find the perfect set of boundaries for each team member. Additionally, emotional expression is another competency that can assist in gathering feedback. Emotional expression is all about openly expressing your emotions, either verbally or nonverbally. Asking for feedback is a form of emotional expression; you are exhibiting vulnerability, are demonstrating you care about your team members’ opinions, and that their feedback will have an impact on your actions. 

3. Make Time for Breaks

It is easy to fall into the habit of continuously working, that you forget to take a break to recharge. As mentioned in Breaking Up with Being Busy, hustle culture is taking the world by storm and emphasizes the need to be busy all the time in order to be successful. Break the cycle of hustle culture and hold your team accountable for taking breaks. As a leader, communicate that it is okay to take a break, instead of continuously working into overdrive. If breaks are not taken, team members are likely to become easily exhausted, resulting in lower quality of work, decreased productivity, and poor emotional health. Implementing breaks into the workday gives team members time to unwind and relax their minds. These breaks can be as simple as taking a stretch break midway through team meetings, to allowing team members to take longer breaks if they feel the need to. 

The two competencies that will assist you to make time for breaks is your Social Responsibility and Impulse Control. Social Responsibility involves acting in the best interest of the group; by implementing breaks, you know that the team will benefit from taking a breather. Impulse Control is the act of resisting or delaying an temptation; this competency equips leaders to avoid acting upon rash behaviours. Continuously working without breaks can result in fatigue, meaning that you or your team members are not working at optimal performance. Impulse control will prevent you from making any brash decisions while exhausted and remind you to take a break instead. 

The Results of Setting Realistic Business Boundaries

When you set realistic business boundaries among your team, you will see results impacting your team’s productivity, culture, and overall happiness. Your team members will feel valued as their individual needs are met, allowing their productivity and effectiveness to flourish. In addition, your team culture will benefit, as you cultivate an environment of trust, respect, and understanding. By building a work environment catered to your team members’ needs, your team will be happier and want to stay for years to come. 

Learning how to establish boundaries is essential to a successful organization. If you’re interested in learning more about how to set boundaries in your team, reach out and book an appointment with me here

For more, you can also check out my Stress Management Strategies Workshop, where you will learn strategies to manage stressful situations and methods to alleviate stress.  

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, to keep up with more of our blogs!

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We all know that effective leadership is needed in the workplace to succeed. However, let’s take a closer look at the art of leadership. What does it truly take for a leader to be successful and effective? How do leaders approach difficult situations and find the inner strength to lead their teams to success? The answer is courage. 

What is Courage? 

Courage can take place in various forms – from being the first one to speak up in a meeting to thinking of a new solution when presented with a problem to admitting when you do not see the situation like others. While courage has a broad definition, it is ultimately not allowing your emotions to get the best of you and persevering through your feelings with actions. As Susan Jeffers says, we must feel the fear and do it anyways

When courage is combined with leadership, it produces a powerful combination. Courageous leaders are able to endure through difficult situations and grow from their experience. As a result, their growth mindset will trickle down to their team members, thus creating a positive team environment. 

At EI Experience, we believe that courageous leadership stems from emotional intelligence. When leaders are vulnerable and express their true emotions, it will directly benefit the team and organization. Team members will be encouraged to share their own feelings and offer support to their leaders, creating a culture of transparency and collaboration. Why Emotions Matter states that when leaders ask for feedback about their leadership, it will shape the leader’s professional development – making them more decisive and successful. The truth is, leadership is not a solo mission, unless you create it that way. Courageous leaders welcome their team members onboard and navigate through the journey together. 

Your Key to Courageous Leadership

As mentioned above, an essential aspect to mastering courageous leadership is to develop your emotional intelligence competencies. Not only will your emotional intelligence skills contribute to a greater understanding and management of your emotions, it will also propel you to make better decisions and manage stress more effectively. Below are a few of the emotional intelligence competencies that will help you become a more courageous leader. 

Assertiveness

Assertiveness is the act of communicating your beliefs and thoughts openly in a respectful and non-offensive manner. Assertiveness plays an important role in courageous leadership, as leaders must voice out their opinions, regardless of what others may think or say. Leaders who are high in assertiveness are able to stand by their beliefs and present new ideas without a fear of judgement; they are okay standing on their own if their ideas are unpopular. Assertive leaders do not impose their ideas and want everyone to follow suit; assertiveness is not about getting everyone to agree with you, but voicing your opinions and declaring your stance. Courageous and assertive leaders are also comfortable with welcoming in opposing viewpoints. 

For example, speaking up to present a new, risky idea to your team members is an act of practicing assertiveness and courageous leadership. It can be nerve wracking to present a brand new idea, especially if it has never been done before. Choosing to speak up instead of staying silent is an act of courage. By presenting this idea, you have voiced your ideas out loud to the team, and are welcoming feedback. 

Interpersonal Relationships

Interpersonal Relationships is a competency focused on developing strong and mutually beneficial relationships. In the workplace, it is crucial for leaders to have healthy, supportive relationships with their team members. As a result, their team members will feel cared for, creating a supportive team culture. An example of how a leader can demonstrate they care about their team is to stand up for their teammate in times of adversity. Swooping in to display support for your team member will not only deepen your relationship with each other, but will make your team member feel valued. 

It is also critical for leaders to develop trust amongst their teams in their relationships with their staff.  And gaining trust takes time.  So, how do you build trust? You always actively listen to your team’s viewpoints, you respect your employees’ work boundaries, you resolve conflicts in healthy ways, you are dependable for them, you care and show consideration of their needs, and you always are consistent with your words and actions.  If trust is built, you both can have the courage to disagree respectfully with each other, offering a different way forward than previously considered.  If you have a trusting relationship, where you can challenge each other’s ideas, you allow more innovative ideas to emerge.

Emotional Expression  

Emotional expression is the ability to showcase your emotions, both verbally and non-verbally. Expressing emotions (especially those perceived as difficult or negative) can be a great act of courage, especially if one does not openly share their emotions. However, when leaders begin to truly show the emotions they are feeling, the workplace becomes more open and transparent. For instance, a leader who admits that their project has failed, but shares the lessons they learned in the process is a prime example of emotional expression, vulnerability, and courageous leadership. 

In terms of emotional expression, the leader is acknowledging their emotions of disappointment associated with the project failing. In addition, admitting that a project has failed may not be an easy pill to swallow, but it spreads the message that perfection does not exist and that mistakes do occur in the workplace. Lastly, teaching the lessons learned from the process of a failed project is an act of courageous leadership. Although the project outcome may have not been the way the leader originally envisioned, being able to find lessons from their experience showcases that their leader wants the best for their team; they want their team to learn from their experience and not make the same mistakes as they did. 

Optimism

Optimism is keeping a positive outlook despite setbacks. Optimism also includes looking for new opportunities when faced with roadblocks. Courageous leaders who are high in optimism have a growth mindset. A growth mindset enables individuals to enjoy challenges, continuously learn, and see potential to develop new skills. In contrast, individuals with a fixed mindset possess low optimism as they believe things will stay the same and struggle to pivot their outlook. To illustrate, let’s use the example of COVID-19. 

COVID-19 forced businesses to change their business model and practices to adapt to the changes imposed by the global pandemic. A courageous leader with a growth mindset will recognize this as a learning opportunity and a chance to pivot; despite the changes, this will be a great opportunity  for the team to develop their adaptability and work together to find a solution that works best for them, given the current situation. However, a leader with a fixed mindset will see the situation in a different light; they will view the circumstances as something they cannot change due to the heavy weight of the world-wide issues, and believe their team can’t handle it.

Unlock Courageous Leadership with Your EQ Competencies

Your emotional intelligence competencies will guide you to the path of courageous leadership. By becoming a courageous leader, you will be able to embrace difficult situations with a growth mindset and persevere through any challenge that comes your way.  

Becoming a courageous leader is more crucial than ever to create a culture that propels your team forward. Want to learn more about how to enhance your leadership repertoire? Check out our Values Based Leadership Workshop, available in live or virtual delivery. For more, you can read our blog, The Art of Authentic Leadership, to learn the importance of embodying the message that it is OK to be human in the workplace. 

Interested in working with us? Book a call here!

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The Art of Authentic Leadership

The Art of Authentic Leadership

All too often, leaders believe that the key to success is to present a manufactured corporate persona. They believe they need to portray that they have all the answers, they don’t make mistakes, and they can never let their teams see them sweat. But let’s face it – nobody is perfect, so why should we impose perfection on leaders? 

The truth is, leadership is more of an art than a science, and it involves authenticity. Exceptional, authentic leaders can inspire trust and loyalty in their team members by being true to themselves.  Authentic leaders can relate to others by finding common ground and presenting different facets of their personality to different audiences without faking it or being insincere. They know which personality traits they should reveal and when, just are like chameleons, adapting to each situation without losing their identities. They know how to unlock every employee’s potential and know leadership is not a one-size-fits-all formula. Most importantly, authentic leaders build a culture of transparency and growth; they know that mistakes are bound to happen and encourage their team to take risks and innovate to find a solution. Ultimately, authentic leaders embody the message that it is OK to be human in the workplace. 

The Integration of Emotional Intelligence in Authentic Leadership 

You may have heard of the common saying, “Can you talk the talk and walk the walk?”; this demonstrates perfectly what authentic leadership really is.  Authentic leaders stay true to their words and can execute their ambitions. The art of authentic leadership is to tap into your emotional intelligence competencies, as these skills will shape your leadership style. Some of the guiding principles of emotional intelligence are being self-aware, genuine, and transparent, all characteristics reflected in the four components of authentic leadership. 

Four Components of Authentic Leadership

The four components of authentic leadership are closely interrelated with emotional intelligence. To master the art of authentic leadership, leaders can take proactive steps to unlock their true selves by developing their emotional intelligence competencies, which will enhance their overall authentic leadership style. 

1. Self Awareness

An authentic leader shows self-awareness through reflecting on their own strengths, weaknesses and values. Self-awareness means being aware of their strengths and development opportunities and also being aware of their emotions and triggers. Authentic leaders truly know themselves and are aware of both their gifts and limitations. To develop your self-awareness, try following this 4-step exercise. 

1. Write down the strengths you possess as a leader. 

2. Write down your weaknesses.

3. Write down areas where you feel most confident.

4. Write down areas for improvement. 

After this exercise, reflect on your learning and ask yourself, what surprised me about my answers? By doing this, you will become cognizant of your strengths and weaknesses and identify your improvement areas. When leaders are self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses, this can help them further develop their leadership style and recognize areas they may need assistance in. Share these results with your team and ask for feedback to gauge opinions from your team members. This facilitates an open discussion and actively involves your team members in the process of your leadership development. 

Once leaders are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, this will also build their self-regard. Self-regard is about respecting yourself and is associated with self-confidence. Leaders who acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses will make peace with their flaws and appreciate their unique set of strengths. Developing self-awareness and self-regard will allow leaders to become confident in their abilities and actively work on their areas of improvement. 

2. Relational Transparency

When authentic leaders demonstrate relational transparency, they maintain a good balance of openly sharing their own thoughts and beliefs but do not overly display their emotions to team members. 

Emotional expression is an EQ competency all about expressing one’s feelings constructively, both verbally and non-verbally. An authentic leader needs to tap into their emotional expression to know how much emotion to show. For example, if a leader is worried about not meeting their quarterly sales goals, they need to think about the most effective way to articulate this message without having team members panicking. Instead of saying, “I do not know what to do to reach our quarterly sales goals, I do not think we will meet them,” an authentic leader will reframe their message to illustrate their concern but will simultaneously get their team on board. A statement such as, “With our current performance, I am noticing that we may not be able to meet our sales goals this quarter. Let’s brainstorm some ideas to help us reach our sales goals.” This statement shows transparency as the leader has expressed their concern but also initiates an action plan. Asking to brainstorm ideas is a proactive way to spark innovation within the team and creates a supportive team environment.  

3. Balanced Processing

Balanced processing is soliciting opinions from others as well as welcoming opposing viewpoints. Leaders who demonstrate balanced processing are curious about understanding the “why” behind each idea. By practicing balanced processing, authentic leaders welcome opinions without being quick to judge. 

Balanced processing is associated with self-actualization, the drive to continuously improve. Authentic leaders are strong in self-actualization as they are constantly looking for ways to become the best leader they can be. One of the ways they do this is through soliciting and receiving valuable feedback from their team. Whether constructive or positive, all forms of feedback are welcomed, as authentic leaders see the value of opposing perspectives and want to understand why they feel like they do. For instance, let’s say a leader asks their team to provide feedback on their presentation. The first feedback they receive from a team member is that it went poorly compared to past presentations. An authentic leader will not jump to conclusions that their presentation went poorly overall; instead, they will seek to understand why the team member believed the presentation was poor. Perhaps the team member was not a fan of the content or thought the presentation could be more engaging and interactive. Authentic leaders know that there are reasons behind one’s feedback; by uncovering the motive, they will better understand the feedback they received. 

Furthermore, asking for feedback also connects with the emotional intelligence competency, reality testing. Reality testing equips leaders to remain objective by seeing things as they really are. Having different opinions on a leader’s performance allows the leader to minimize their unconscious biases and assumptions. For example, if a leader believes that they are great at public speaking, asking for feedback challenges this assumption as they seek opinions other than their own.

4. Internalized Moral Perspective

Authentic leaders also display a strong moral code that they demonstrate in their relationships and decision-making. Using an internalized moral perspective enables leaders to lead from their hearts and align with their core values. This ties in with the emotional intelligence competency, independence. Independence is the ability to be self-directed and free from emotional dependency. Combining independence and an internalized moral perspective builds an ethical foundation resistant to external forces. For example, if there is a new, rising trend in the industry, an authentic leader can stand their ground and do what is in the company’s best interest. They will not succumb to the external pressure to follow the trend just because everyone else may be, but will follow the trend if they see a benefit for their organization.  

Independent, authentic leaders allow their core values to guide their everyday actions and behaviour. Picture this – your leader states they value learning and development and wants everyone to participate in self-directed learning and development, just like themselves. However, there never seems to be time for self-directed learning and development for the company as a whole. An authentic leader would be sure to dedicate an allotted time slot for learning and development, such as an hour every Friday afternoon. If there is no time scheduled allotted to learning and development, then their value is simply a wish; it is something that the leader wants to have in the workplace, but it is not something the leader is willing to invest in and make time for.

Become an Authentic Leader

With a high self-awareness, internal drive to continuously improve, ability to openly share their thoughts yet adapt what they say to whom they are speaking with, adapt to any situation, and a strong moral compass, authentic leaders, show up to the workplace with dignity, humility, and integrity. By tuning into their emotional intelligence, they will master the four components of authentic leadership.

Interested in learning about how to become an authentic leader? Call us to book our brand new Authentic Leadership workshop to explore the key concepts, behaviours and ways to incorporate authenticity into your management repertoire.  Alternatively, you can also check out our Values-Based Leadership Workshop to discover your core values and how to apply your values in your work environment.  

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, to keep up with more of our blogs!

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4 Ways to Motivate Your Remote Team

4 Ways to Motivate Your Remote Team

Remote work has taken the world by storm, whether we like it or not. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it forced organizations to find alternatives for employees working in the traditional in-person office environment. Enter in remote work; many workplaces implemented work from home procedures to quickly adapt to the changing times. 

While remote work holds many benefits (think flexible work schedules and casual office wear), it had many underlying challenges. Setting up the logistics was one of the first obstacles facing the transition, from ensuring team members had the proper equipment to learning new technology to stay connected. Next, more abstract challenges such as blurred boundaries between work-life balance, team collaboration, and decreased engagement and productivity became apparent. Little did we know, all these challenges contribute to a larger problem: motivation within remote teams.  

In a Harvard Business Review study, remote employees who had no say in their work environment were the least motivated, versus those who chose to work remotely. The most motivated employees were those who decided to work in an office. While remote work may be associated with low motivation compared to when we operated back in the office, there are ways to combat this. The answer? Emotional intelligence. Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the leadership superpower today’s managers need to boost productivity and employee engagement

Emotional Intelligence Motivates Your Remote Team

EI is the ability to recognize, understand and manage your emotions. Once you name your emotions, you can tame them; this can help support your everyday actions and overall mindset, from managing stress to having empathy for others.   

Motivation can be simple as a mathematical formula. When people feel connected to their team, appreciated for their efforts, and fulfilled in their job, it improves how they feel and perform at work. In order to stay motivated, it is crucial to master these three key areas. While it may be challenging to incorporate these critical areas while working as a remote team, we have compiled a list of activities that can boost team motivation even though physically apart!

1. Use Technology for Collaboration

While collaboration may no longer occur in the conference room, it’s time to stop reminiscing about the old times and begin envisioning how to recreate the same camaraderie. In a remote team, collaboration starts with a working wifi connection; we have many online tools available to us to kickstart teamwork and innovation. 

Picture this – you have a strategic planning session over Zoom this week. Add some flair into the meeting by incorporating interactivity. Use the Zoom Whiteboard feature or Google Jamboard to mimic writing out ideas on the whiteboard, just like how you used to in the office. Instead of having ten participants on the call throughout the whole meeting, use breakout rooms to allow collaboration among smaller units, then come together again as a large team to discuss the new ideas. 

Many leaders can leverage the tricks technology brings and start to see that there are far more options to online engagement. It can be as simple as voting anonymously in a poll to sharing thoughts and opinions through chat. Finding and utilizing new web-conferencing tools will keep your meetings engaged and collaborative.   

One of the perks of remote work is the minimal commute required. This may open the door for further collaboration; perhaps a team member is interested in planning social events but never made it to the prior committee meetings, as they always needed to leave early to beat the traffic. Now, they can join the discussion with a calendar invite in a few clicks. Keep this in mind and open up more collaboration opportunities; this can motivate your team as they try something new, work with different groups, and may even find a new interest or passion! 

2. Be Flexible Towards Needs

We mentioned that one of the challenges of remote work is blurred boundaries between work and personal life. Now that the office space has moved to your team’s personal home, everything connected to your personal life is also invited into the office space. Employers need to consider these conditions, whether that be caring for children or having a limited office space. Everyone’s office space looks different and is no longer as uniform as before. Have discussions with your team members to see how you, as a leader, can assist them in adjusting to their remote work environment. 

In Leading Effective Virtual Meetings, we discuss how empathy and flexibility can go a long way. Whether it’s accommodating longer breaks so that a team member can have time to make lunch for their children or purchasing an office chair so that the team member has an ergonomic workspace, there are many ways that leaders can support their employees. By tending to these different needs, leaders are investing in their greatest asset – their team. In return, team members will feel valued and more motivated to excel in their roles. 

3. Remember Your Core Values 

An aspect of the office environment that many workers miss is the in-person interaction. With remote work, employees are now no longer able to see their teams in person. If this is left unaccounted for, this can decrease team engagement. To remind employees that they’re not alone, leaders need to take the first step and continue cultivating their workplace culture remotely. 

Because your team is now remote, this does not mean you have to eliminate the watercooler talk that used to take place in the office. At the start of your meeting, you can ask your team members how their weekend went or their plans for the day. Even a simple question, such as “How are you feeling today?” can speak volumes; it shows that you genuinely care for your employees and want to strengthen your team relationship. 

Think back to your company’s core values – these are the guiding principles behind your organization. Are they reflected in your online work environment? If not, what can you do to implement them into your remote workspace? For example, if your organization values continuous learning and development, make sure that your employees know this and are dedicating time for learning in their schedule. To instill this into your team culture, why not host a monthly company-wide virtual show and tell? At the end of the month, you can host a dedicated meeting where your team members each take turns demonstrating what they learned. Alternatively, you can have 1-2 team members share what they learned at the start of every meeting. 

When transitioning to online work, we may have been too busy adapting to the change in our work environment that we dismissed our corporate values and vision. Remind your team members of the vision, purpose and core values behind the organization; it’s likely the reason why they joined the team in the first place! By reminding your employees of your shared mission and instilling it into your corporate culture, your team will be more motivated to achieve your common goal. 

4. Feedback: Listen & Offer

Providing regular feedback helps to cultivate a culture of transparency and growth. It is easy to hide behind the screen in a remote work environment and sweep your problems under the rug. As a leader, you need to minimize this by informing your team members that you’re readily available to listen and will support them if they are struggling. 

You may no longer have the ability to walk around your office and assess the room, but you can make it a routine to check in with your team. Set time for face-to-face communication when conducting check-ins, so you’re able to take note of their body language. Be intentional and set time for regular check-ins. Whether it be a monthly one-on-one meeting or weekly team meeting, a leaders’ feedback can be highly motivational to their team members; it shows that the manager acknowledges their employee’s hard work. A small gesture, such as telling your team member you appreciate them can go a long way. Feedback also allows employees to ask questions about their performance and pinpoint challenges and areas for development.  

However, feedback should go both ways; leaders need to be aware of their strengths and areas of improvement. When checking-in with team members, managers should also ask for an evaluation of their leadership performance. For instance, a leader could solicit feedback from their team by simply asking, “What am I doing too much of? What am I not doing enough of? What am I doing just right?” Feedback will help the leader recognize what their team members need and can even identify areas they never thought of before! Leaders need to share that they’re open to receiving input, especially as they steer and pivot through these times of uncertainty. Make it known to your team that navigating through the storm is a collective effort! 

The Checklist to Motivate Your Remote Team

In summary, here’s a checklist of activities that can help you motivate your remote team with emotional intelligence. These activities have been grouped under the three critical areas of Connection, Appreciation, and Fulfilment in order to boost motivation. Keep this checklist bookmarked! 

Connection

Leverage technology to find new ways to collaborate. 

Make time for connection – ask your team members how they are feeling.

Appreciation 

Show your team members that you care – send a message to a team member stating how you appreciate them.

Ask your team members if there’s anything they need from you. 

Fulfillment 

Provide feedback to your team members – set up a one-on-one meeting with a team member or a weekly team meeting. 

Ask for feedback from your team member on what is working well and what needs improvement. 

Looking for more ways to keep your remote team motivated? Check out our blog, How to Engage Your Virtual Team Using Emotional Intelligence, for tips on how you can keep your remote team engaged. You can also sign up for our Reconnect and Revive Your Team with EI package to help your team stay emotionally connected while physically apart.  

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