It’s a really great thing for managers to see happy teams. They’re engaged, productive, and a pleasure to work with. As you read this, you may be wondering, Does my team feel like this? Unfortunately, as you ponder even more, you may realize that maybe in the past, you could describe your team this way, but as it stands, not of late.
It’s important to realize these things happen. Teams may have periods where they’re knocking it out of the park, and it’s easy to take for granted. However, it may be a combination of things that has made that pretty gem of a group lose their lustre, and they’re not the powerhouse they once were. One of the first points of consideration is to see where they stand as individuals with their morale and camaraderie with each other.
- Do you have one major influencer who, based on their mood of the day, can bring down others or lift them high?
- Has there just been hit after hit to your team, one after another, from other departments stretching them thin with demands?
- Or is it a collective unravelling that seems to have left everyone listless and a little flat?
It’s crucial to get to the root of why morale is low, and take steps to address it immediately. Remember, more than likely the mood of the team won’t change after a 30 minute pep talk — it may take weeks to get everyone back up the pace and unity they once had. This can be a little more difficult if they’re working remotely, as well, but the methods are the same, even if the execution is a little different.
So, what can you do to help boost the team morale and camaraderie on your remote teams? I thought you’d never ask!
Here are my 5 tips:
Celebrate Wins Together
Remember when you were in grade school, and the teacher would say, “If everyone turns in their assignment on time this week, you all get pizza for lunch!” and a collective “hooray!” would echo through the room? Well, we haven’t changed all that much as adults. It’s a great feeling to celebrate wins together. It joins everyone collectively, and can be a motivating factor.
Hopefully you can make it a little more special than pizza, but do something to recognize an accomplishment together. This can be an organized work outing (if your team is local), or a gift card to say “Nicely done”. Coming together to celebrate is a big boost in camaraderie.
Encourage Time off
Oftentimes people can feel low just from burnout alone, and not due to any one thing in particular. Check in to see if they’ve used time off recently for personal days (without prying, of course), and not just to run errands.
Let them know you see how hard they’re working, and would like to encourage them to schedule some time in the near future. If you are able, give them a half day on a Friday, without docking from their allotted time off. However, make sure you have a face to face or phone conversation, instead of just sending an email.
The message to “take some time off” without context can lead to the worry of performance issues or job loss, which you don’t want. Make it friendly and encouraging, but ultimately, don’t be too pushy, and let them decide.
Listen to your Team. Sometimes in the shuffle, the voices of your team can be drowned out by incessant meetings, and swift changes of your project goals.
Take time to pause and listen to your team members. It may be that because remote work entails more typed communication, sometimes a conversation can help to make them feel heard. Have phone or video chats on a set basis, so they know that you have prioritized time with them throughout the month where they can express concerns. Allowing them to feel heard can also make them feel valued, which can, in turn, boost their morale.
Your employees may just feel stagnant at their job at times, which can really be a downer. No one wants to think they’ve hit the peak of their career with 20 years left to decline painfully and slowly until retirement. Make sure you are setting goals quarterly to keep them focused and energized. Also, changing it up a bit every few months can allow them to look forward to new projects, especially if they’re not enjoying their current work.
Let them play a part in setting their goals – while it is true that you need to make sure that even the boring work gets done for the sake of the company, it doesn’t hurt to allot part of their work to be towards something they’re passionate about. Who knows, they may even surpass your expectations, making it a win for everyone.
Recognize their Efforts
Make sure you are recognizing their efforts and accomplishments. Nothing is more deflating than releasing a large deliverable, only to hear crickets in return from a lack of response. Even if the stakeholders have little to say about it, your team has had a closer look at all of the time and energy (and, quite possibly, tears) it took to make that happen.
If you have a chance to elevate your workers, make sure you send an email to those higher up in the company (especially if they benefit from the changes), outlining the outstanding work they did. Receiving kudos from a C-level or Vice President within the company can go a long way with making them feel proud and encouraged.
Take time to invest in the emotional well-being of your remote workers, to let them know they’re a valued asset.
Sometimes, there may just be things going on at home that are affecting them negatively, and there’s not much you can do besides being a little more understanding. At the end of the day, showing you care and are making an effort to be supportive is a great start!