As a manager, it is your responsibility to ensure that your team produces excellent results whilst also meeting the requirements of both customers and the business. A successful leader is someone who can maintain an overall perspective of the situation. The most efficient leaders are able to provide complete backing to each individual in the team. A survey conducted by Ultimate Software, a human resource management company, found that 71% of managers were confident in their ability to motivate their employees. Unfortunately, the research also revealed that only 44% of employees felt their managers were able to motivate them to do their best.
When teams are dispersed geographically, it can be difficult for remote leaders to understand how to have an impact. One of the challenges encountered when team members are located in different places is that it is more straightforward to arrange team building activities, such as away days, brainstorming sessions and after work socials, when people work in the same office. This concept was explored in our article “Smells Like Team Spirit”. Unfortunately, those who are based in different locations miss out on the camaraderie and shared sense of purpose that such activities can bring.
Aspiring managers looking to transition into a leadership role can draw inspiration from the film Office Space for the following four strategies to ensure they get the best out of their distributed teams. However, if you are looking to recruit top talent from abroad, then we are the perfect partner for you.
Inspiring Mutual Understanding and Cooperation
The Office Space series featured one of the most beloved characters, Milton Waddams, who was universally disliked by his superiors and colleagues but held in high regard by viewers due to his incessant mumbling and never-ending quest to find his misplaced stapler. While his plight was humorous, it is a telecommuter’s worst fear come true; the best way to dampen an employee’s enthusiasm is to neglect them, particularly if they are working remotely. Therefore, it is essential to check in with everyone regularly. Lisa Quast, a professional career counsellor and author, shares this opinion and suggests that these prearranged meetings should be used for more than simply making your points and promptly ending the conversation. “To make these meetings as productive as possible,” she states, “change the dynamic so that rather than you (the manager) instructing the employee what to do, the employee is the one who proactively provides you with an update on their work and explains any assistance or support they may need from you.” Asking “What’s going on?” at the start of the conversation is a tried and tested method for inspiring action, and Lisa stresses that this should be done in earnest.
At Chotchkie’s, Joanna encountered an issue that is all too common in today’s working environment – a boss who both micromanaged and failed to communicate effectively. This situation came to a head when her employer implied that she was not following instructions, due to her use of more than fifteen flairs. Those with experience in managing remote teams will tell you that there is a great potential for misunderstanding when people are not able to speak to one another in person. Keith Ferrazzi, Chief Executive Officer of Ferrazzi Greenlight, offers advice to all managers that they should “set out clear, intentional expectations beforehand and create guidelines for how interactions should take place”. It is also important to ensure that instructions are given in a consistent and unambiguous tone.
Inspiring by Means of Exposure to, and Participation In,
Samir Nagheenanajar and Michael Bolton, two skilled programmers at Initech, have the unfortunate disadvantage of working there. Despite their dedication to their roles, they are sadly overlooked and never acknowledged. This can be damaging to morale, as Professor Brene Brown – an expert in research on motivation – points out. When people’s talents are not utilised, it can lead to a sense of wasted potential, which can create a ripple effect of emotions such as sadness, anger, judgement, grief, and humiliation. It is therefore essential to recognise the abilities of staff, to ensure a positive and productive workplace.
The potential for future progression and recognition in response to one’s hard work is a strong source of motivation. According to a survey conducted by Execu-Search, it was found that 76% of millennials viewed the possibility of professional development as one of the most important advantages of working for a company. It should be a goal that they feel is achievable.
Businesscollective has highlighted recognition as the “key to motivation” due to its importance. When managing remote workers, it is essential to provide constructive feedback; however, this can have a negative impact on their enthusiasm, work ethic and general outlook. As “some supervisors only contact remote workers when something goes wrong,” according to Hubstaff, actively praising employees must be planned and incorporated into their management strategy. Poor morale is often a result of the lack of communication and recognition. Therefore, it is essential to put in the extra effort to provide compliments and encouragement to remote workers. Dustin Grosse, COO of Clearslide, fully agrees with this sentiment; instead of micro-managing them and hovering over them while they are working hard, it is beneficial to recognise their productivity as a whole.
The Inspiration Must Come From You, So Please Do
As Peter is leaving his meetings with the Bobs, he explains that his objective is to not be “hassled”. It is important to consider if your staff feel inspired or irritated by your presence. If it is true that they perform better when left alone, then this is excellent news. Self-sufficiency can be achieved by remote workers who have been provided with the appropriate training and guidance. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, has also addressed this issue. She commented that “Leadership is about making people better as a consequence of your presence and ensuring that your influence continues even after you have left”.
As a manager, it is essential to show commitment and have a mastery of communication when inspiring your remote workforce. Rather than neglecting them, it is important to give them honest and regular compliments. It is not beneficial to micromanage them, but instead, it is beneficial to set clear and achievable goals and allow them the freedom to work independently. A survey conducted by Ultimate Software revealed that 50% of workers would decline a 10% wage raise in order to stay with their current employer if they were under the supervision of an exceptional manager. Our article ‘Great Expectations – How to Get your Remote Team on the Same Page’ suggests that ‘managers should check in periodically, to answer any inquiries and see if any unanticipated difficulties have sprung up’. Therefore, it is important to stay in contact with your remote employees and provide them with the support they need in order to be successful.
By providing your remote team members with achievable goals to work towards and offering them both positive reinforcement and constructive criticism, you can ensure that they remain motivated and inspired. Encouraging them to strive for success and recognizing their efforts can go a long way towards helping them stay enthusiastic and productive.
If you have yet to watch the cult classic Office Space, I would advise against revealing the ending here; however, suffice it to say, the lack of effective management at Initech ultimately led to their downfall. It is important to bear in mind that if a team is poorly managed, the consequences can be catastrophic. Fortunately, by following the right guidelines, you can ensure that your remote workforce is managed in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the objectives of your organization.
If you feel that you have the management skills to help your remote team reach their potential, now is the time to take your career to the next level. Becoming a professional motivator could be the perfect opportunity to show your worth and make a real difference. Get in touch with Works today and discover how you can make a positive impact.