How to engage a remote agency team to keep motivation highSep 12, 2022
Team morale is important not only because it contributes to the health, happiness and success of an organization, but is critical in making sure we meet our goals, and gives us indications into how well our agencies are operating. It’s especially important in PR & marketing agencies, where tight deadlines, all-hands-on-deck projects, and high stress situations are best handled when the team is running like a well-oiled machine. Managing morale in the remote work environment poses new challenges that many leaders are still navigating.
Here are our tips for engaging a remote agency team to keep motivation high.
First, we need to understand what causes low morale inside of an agency. At the most basic level, it’s when employee needs aren’t being met. A great way to break this down is to refer to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and consider how they apply to the workplace.
Basic survival needs. This is pretty self explanatory. An employee needs to feel like a job is providing them the means to take care of their basic needs of housing, food, etc. This is compromised when power is abused and statements like “you’re lucky to have a job” are thrown around.
Safety and security. Everyone needs to feel safe and secure at work. A variety of factors can make employees feel insecure in their jobs. For example, inconsistencies where people never know what to expect can leave employees feeling on edge and unsafe. Distrust can also lead to an employee not feeling secure in their role and often manifests from micromanaging or a lack of transparency among the team.
Belonging. Everyone wants to feel like part of the team. Isolation can often result from a lack of communication, which causes an employee to feel unvalued and like they don’t belong.
Esteem. It’s important to recognize employees for their work and the job they are doing. We’ll take it a step further and say that it’s also important to give employees the tools, resources, and feedback they need to do a great job and continuously improve. Without the tools to succeed and the recognition when they do, employees won’t feel valued in the workplace.
Self actualization. Ultimately we all want to feel like we’re a part of something greater than ourselves and working towards something of importance. Meeting the needs we listed above allows employees to reach the ultimate goal of self actualization.
There are a few important strategies that agency leaders can use to ensure you’re meeting your employees’ needs and ultimately keeping motivation high in a remote work environment.
- Set clear and realistic expectations. Everyone needs to know the expectations of their job in order to be successful. Setting your employees up for success by making sure expectations are realistic and clearly communicating those expectations to the team will empower them to reach their goals. In a remote environment, it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day without checking in with the team. A five-minute check-in at the beginning of each day can ensure that everyone is aligned on expectations.
- Being a clear communicator. Communication is a two-way street. Clear communication not only means communicating your needs and expectations effectively, but also listening and understanding what is being communicated to you. In a remote environment, it can be helpful to restate what you’re hearing to ensure that it aligns with what the person is trying to communicate and leave space for others to ask for clarity.
- Providing opportunities for growth and development. No one wants to feel stagnant in their job. Find ways to take the traditional lunch and learn that used to happen on the first Tuesday of the month in the conference room and convert it to a remote setting. That may mean allowing each employee to sign up for one continuing education course each year or offering a project typically handled by a more senior employee to have an opportunity to learn the ropes. In some instances, it may be as simple as asking a question like, “How do you hope to grow and how can I help you get there?”
- Give credit where credit is due. We may not all be in the office to cheer at the conclusion of a successful campaign, so it’s more important than ever to shout out a job well done. This can be an agenda item on the weekly meeting or a “hooray” email that goes out every time you feel that someone deserves recognition for their work. You can even set up a Slack channel for all employees to shout out each other for a job well done. More is more when it comes to recognizing employees for their hard work.
- Open channels for honest feedback. Just like clear communication, this goes both ways. It’s crucial that you are able to give constructive feedback to your employees and they are able to share feedback with you. In a remote work setting, this can be overlooked since we don’t have the opportunity to “pop in” to each other’s office to chat. Make time for this by either scheduling regular one-on-one’s with your team or opening a time block on your calendar once a week for anyone who wants to schedule time with you.
- Learn from your mistakes. You will never do all of these things perfectly and neither will your employees– we’re all only human after all. Being able to learn from our mistakes and even better, communicate what we have learned to the team, is a great way to build trust within your agency and grow as a leader.
It’s important to point out that even when all of these strategies are implemented to perfection, there will be disagreements among your team. You can disagree in a productive and healthy way by listening to the other person’s point of view, explaining yours without trying to convince them to see it your way, and being willing to compromise.
By implementing these simple and effective strategies, your agency will feel the difference in team motivation and company culture– even when working from afar!