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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.  

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

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How To Identify Your Strengths

How To Identify Your Strengths

Everyone has a natural aptitude for something.  

What are your strengths?

  • Working with numbers
  • Detail-oriented
  • Drawing pictures
  • Teaching children
  • Growing plants
  • Problem-solving
  • Caring for those less fortunate than you
  • Music
  • Athletics
  • Empathy
  • Writing
  • Working with your hands.

Identifying your greatest strengths and building your life based on them is essential for your overall happiness and success. Without knowing how to discover your strengths and maximize them, you may waste a lot of time doing the wrong things.

Can you imagine spending years of hard work only to realize at the end that you have poured your time and energy (not to mention money) into the wrong things?

Many people are not even aware of their strengths.  So, the question is: How do you discover your natural talents?

Here are three easy steps to help you determine your natural aptitude

Step 1: Tasks that are easy
  • Write down a list of those things that you do that seem easy for you.
  • These are the things that you can do that seem almost effortless.
  • Often, the tasks that are easy for us are those where we have a special aptitude.
Step 2: “Where did the time go?” tasks
  • Make a list of those things you do where time just seems to fly by.
  • When you are doing these activities, you may look up and realize that several hours have passed without you even realizing it.
  • This is a good clue to activities where you have natural talent.
Step 3: Tasks that make you happy
  • Finally, write all the activities that make you happy.
  • These are things that make you smile.
  • These are the tasks you would do just for yourself, with no promise of gain, just because they’re fun, interesting and fulfilling.

After writing out all three lists, find the common activities.

These are likely to be the areas of your natural aptitude and talent.  These are the areas of greatest potential for you.

Imagine if you could spend most of your time developing and playing at something that makes you happy, where time flies and where it’s easy for you.  Wow!

So, now that you know what your natural talent is, try to find or carve out a role that draws on these strengths every day. Organizing your life around your strengths will make your life more productive and fulfilled.

Not sure where your strengths and weaknesses lie in terms of your emotional intelligence? Try our free 15-question quiz to measure your level of emotional intelligence.

To learn more about emotional intelligence and how it benefits your organization, sign up for our biweekly newsletter here, where you will receive our latest updates, an inventory of resources, and much more!

If you need help leading your organization to success, book a call with us here; we’d love to listen and provide support in any way we can.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and Instagram to keep up with our latest blogs!

Appreciation in the Workplace

Appreciation in the Workplace

Consider this: you have two employees who share the same job. Let’s call them John and Jane. They have the same duties, same daily responsibilities, and work with the same teammates. Jane is highly motivated and continually achieves exactly what you request of her. You set daily operations meeting first thing every morning to set targets and goals for the day and this has proven to get the results you need out of Jane. You are committed to ensuring your team is working cohesively so ensure you make time to have lunch with the employees and even schedule monthly team-outings.

John, on the other hand, is more than capable of meeting these targets and even outperforming Jane, but doesn’t have the same consistent results. John receives all the same instructions as Jane, he always participates in the operations meetings and team activities, but you just can’t figure out why his performance is inconsistent.

Last month, you sat down with John and told him he was a star and you value him as an employee. Everything was great after that meeting; he quickly moved to the head of the pack in terms of performance, but now it has tapered off again.

Have you ever been in a situation at work where you just can’t figure out what motivates someone?

By all accounts, it sounds like you are committed to your team, you want to ensure the employees are engaged and supported and care about their success. So why is John not performing consistently?

John and Jane are motivated differently, and you have fallen into the one-size-fits-all leadership approach. Each of these employees requires a different method of appreciation to motivate them.

“The highest driver of engagement in whether workers feel their managers are genuinely interested in their well-being”. How can employees be appreciated if you are not recognizing them in their language? Gary Chapman and Paul White discuss this very topic in The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.

Read on as share the five languages of appreciation in the workplace: quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, tangible gifts, and physical touch.

Quality time

Quality time refers to people who accept appreciation through quality time spent with their superiors and coworkers. Giving full, undivided attention to employees while both in a team or one-on-one setting is key to making them feel appreciated. Negative feelings can arise if not enough attention is given or if you seem distracted and not present.

Acts of service

Acts of service refer to people who accept and show appreciation by doing things. They believe that actions speak louder than words and want to see quality work being done. It may offend someone if a commitment to do work is made and doesn’t get done.

Words of affirmation

Words of affirmation mean that people will receive appreciation through words. Positive language and words of encouragement are needed to make some people feel wanted and appreciated in the workplace. Likewise, if too much negative language is used it can demotivate employees and make them feel isolated.

Tangible gifts

Tangible gifts are used for people who express appreciation in the workplace by giving and receiving gifts. This could be a dinner, tickets to a sporting event, or even a box of chocolates. When an employee does a good job it is best to give them a small gift instead of giving them praise.

Physical touch

Physical touch can be the main driver of appreciation for some people. Be careful, because this can be tricky to use in the workplace. A solid handshake or a pat on the back will let employees know that their work is appreciated, but doesn’t cross any workplace boundaries.

In our example, Jane definitely feels appreciated by quality time. She thrives on having daily operations meetings, enjoys team lunches and is encouraged by team outings. On the other side of the equation, John may enjoy these same things, but it is not what motivates him and makes him feel appreciated. He is driven by words of affirmation. He requires the individualized feedback he was given during his private meeting last month. Now that you understand each employee may require a different type of appreciation to stay motivated and feel engaged, think about how you show appreciation in the workplace to your team.

 

To learn more about the importance of appreciation in the workplace and how emotional intelligence benefits your organization, sign up for our biweekly newsletter here, where you will receive our latest updates, an inventory of resources, and much more!

Check out our workshop on Communication in the Workplace to learn two powerful communication models grounded in emotional intelligence – how to give and receive feedback, and how to have a difficult conversation.

If you need help leading towards success, book a call with us here; we’d love to listen and provide support in any way we can.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin to keep up with our latest blogs!

Leading With Your Creativity

Leading With Your Creativity

Today’s most famous leaders are innovative, creative, and think outside the box.

We look at someone like Steve Jobs, for example, the most creative leader of all time. Jobs thought of a unique and crazy idea that had never been thought of before, and even though some may have said his idea was absolutely insane, he went ahead with it anyway.  During this day and age, leaders need to be more innovative than ever.

So how do you become a creative leader? How do you know if your crazy idea is more than just a crazy idea?

The answer is… you don’t. Being a great creative leader means following your heart and doing what makes sense to you. If you believe something will be successful, then work at it until it is. The road to success will never be perfect, you will fail and you will succeed, but that’s just a part of life.

Jim Carrey one of the most eccentric actors of all time recently told a story about his father, and this story can teach all of us a very valuable lesson. Carrey talked about his father and how he always wanted to be a comedian but settled for a “safe” job as an accountant. Carrey’s father didn’t love his accounting job, but it was a stable job that put food on the table so he stuck with it. When Carrey was twelve, his father was let go from his “safe” job, and the whole family had to do everything they could to survive. At the end of Carrey’s speech he says, “I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

In order to be a creative leader, you don’t have to be the best; you just have to be willing to go first. You have to be willing to take a chance on your idea and your vision. Once you believe in your idea and your vision, the next step is to get others to believe in it as well. These people are your followers, and they will do wonders for you. Your followers are the ones that are going to make your crazy idea a reality.

Steve Jobs said, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.” In order to be a creative leader, you must see your vision and be passionate about it. Many people will tell you that it won’t work, but all you need is a few people and yourself to believe it will.  

Do you need help in leading with creativity? Book a call with us here; we’d love to listen and provide support in any way we can. 

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Becoming a Transformational Leader

Becoming a Transformational Leader

The concept of transformational leadership has been a growing trend in business ever since it was first proposed by leadership expert and Pulitzer Prize-winning author James MacGregor Burns in 1978. He said that transformational leadership occurs when leaders and followers help each other reach higher levels of morality and motivation. Over the years, this model has been expanded and adapted, to the point where it is one of the most well known and popular theories in the field of leadership. As the name implies, this model has the potential to not only fundamentally change organizations, but change the lives of the people within them.

 

What is transformational leadership?

Transformational leadership consists of 4 main components:

1. Idealized Influence

The leader is a charismatic role model that followers look up to and admire because they practice what they preach.

2. Inspirational Motivation

The leader has a clear vision and effectively communicates it to inspire and motivate their followers.

3. Individualized Consideration

The leader has a personalized approach, taking the time to listen to each and every member of the team, and genuinely cares about their well-being.

4. Intellectual Stimulation

The leader challenges the status quo and encourages creativity and innovation, giving team members space and freedom to do what they do best.

With regards to components 1 and 2, the leader’s charisma and personality are critical elements that affect a person’s willingness to follow, and while some leaders seem to be blessed with a natural charisma that makes them almost instantly likeable, don’t lose hope if it doesn’t come as easy for you. Just remember that how you interact and relate to people are skills, and like any skill, it too can be learned and improved.

 

Learning Leadership

A clear vision is a must, and as a leader, you need to be able to recognize when change is needed and be willing to lead it… while at the same time being open to ideas. Transformational leaders are often more egalitarian, and make themselves available for followers to come directly to them with their thoughts and ideas, skipping the hierarchical chain of command that can needlessly slow down the process. This also helps to build a sense of trust and belonging to the leader and team are both working towards a cause, a clear vision, in a cooperative effort.

The role of transformational leadership is to help gain autonomy and freedom to fully explore ideas. Therefore, transformational leaders believe in the power of the people, and make their people’s success the team’s success, and vice versa, to inspire and motivate them to reach their full potential. A major factor in the success of this leadership style is it believes that given the autonomy and freedom to fully explore their ideas, people can often thrive. Sometimes rules and step-by-step processes, although beneficial in the sense that they provide a framework, can be the anathema of creativity and innovation because of their limiting nature.

Now, you may be asking yourself if you are a transformational leader. Here is a quick test developed by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D (2009) that you can use to assess your transformational leadership traits:

  1. I would never require a follower to do something that I wouldn’t do myself.
  2. I have clear goals for my team.
  3. I find it comes naturally to inspire others.
  4. I celebrate the talents and successes of my followers.
  5. I am attentive when it comes to the personal needs of my followers.
  6. I challenge my followers to get out of their comfort zones.
  7. I believe that teamwork is the way to success.
  8. I encourage my followers to question their most basic way of thinking.
  9. Followers have told me that my enthusiasm and positive energy are infectious.

Strong transformational leaders would agree with all of these statements, but even if you don’t, do not worry. Instead, use this test as a way to get inside the perspective of a transformational leader, to see how they think, and before you know it, you’ll soon be walking in those shoes.

Interested in learning more about transformational leadership? Carolyn Stern and the EI Experience team invite you to transform on one of their training courses.

To learn more about transformational leadership and emotional intelligence in the workplace, sign up for our biweekly newsletter here, where you will receive our latest updates, an inventory of resources, and much more!

If you need help becoming a transformational leader, book a call with us here; we’d love to listen and provide support in any way we can.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin to keep up with our latest blogs!