A question many project managers/ project leaders and others keep asking themselves probably a lot of times is „How do I keep my (remote) team motivated?“
Especially due to the lockdowns over the past year many companies had to restructure their work environment which I know has been quite a struggle for many.
I am used to working with remote teams for years so I thought I‘d share some tips and tricks that help me to ensure the team stays motivated
[A] - Asana
The most important rule is to ensure your team members understand why Asana and why it is so important to add all tasks there and they need to learn how to use Asana efficiently.
During the onboarding process of new team members, they would have to go through the Asana tutorials: https://academy.asana.com/series/video-tutorials-tips and also specific Asana videos we prepared explaining our specific processed and set up.
This is definitely not something that can be achieved in one day. It is a process and you or a coordinator needs to be by their side to guide them. If you already know your team well you understand who needs more hands-on training and who just needs a little bit of guidance along the way.
You definitely have to avoid overloading people with features and ensure to slowly introduce them to more. Only then they will really get to love it and are eager to improve
Now I could be talking about this topic for much longer but this is probably best kept for a separate post
A1) Ensure every team member adds a profile picture
A2) Ensure your team knows how they can customize their Asana background and show them the dark mode feature so they can customize Asana the way they like it best
You might also be interested in upvoting here: Custom Backgrounds
A3) To avoid frustration, caused due to the high amount of Asana task notification emails they might get, help them to set up a filter in their inbox to separate Asana tasks updates and other company emails or (and this is what I would suggest) have them disable the email notifications and instead keep the Asana inbox open in a separate window or the desktop app.
[B] - Birthday Congratulations
Whenever somebody starts working with us we also ask for their birthday. I keep a calendar of all birthdays in my Asana and whenever one comes up I would send a message in the main newsletter Asana project with congratulations and a gif.
This way all other team members are reminded too and send their wishes + often also fun gifs and pictures.
The team is really enjoying this so far.
[C] - Company Culture
Every company operates differently and has different values and guidelines.
It is very important that these are clearly communicated to everybody joining the team to avoid any confusion or miscommunication down the line.
Especially for remote work, this is important, even more important when team members from different countries with different cultures work in your company.
[D] - Do‘s and don’ts of effective communication
Ensure this is part of your team culture and address these points with your team regularly as communication within the team is key! Especially for remote teams, this is even more important.
Be a good listener
Express negative thoughts in a positive way. Negative communication can be demotivating and hurt. (So for example instead of saying „Don‘t do this anymore“ rather say „I see where you are coming from, however, based on the outcome I suggest changing the approach next time and rather perform this task differently“)
Be open to receiving and giving constructive feedback
In case of any miscommunication often a short call is recommended to sort out things quickly (Too often I have experienced miscommunication due to different cultures. For example, somebody from Australia uses a typical saying, however, a team member from another country is not familiar with that at all and feels offended)
Don’t interrupt people when they are talking
Don’t overcomplicate your message.
Don’t be defensive or offensive – stay neutral
Don’t criticize in public.
Don’t shout or talk too fast.
Avoid floundering. When you do decide to speak up, make sure that you’re prepared to be clear and concise.
Learn to avoid using filler words such as uhh and umm. Nearly everybody does this at times which is okay as long as it does not get too much. This is probably one of the toughest bad habits to break.
When in a meeting don‘t try to multitask. Stay focused and take notes.
If on video call: Maintain eye contact
[E] - Emojis
Use emojis when communicating with your team. Again don‘t overdo it but an emoji now and then can put a smile on people‘s faces.
[F] - Freedom
Give team members autonomy.
Granting autonomy shows you trust your team members → push in motivation and once they completed something successfully they get a feeling of accomplishment.
- In the long term it helps you build self-sufficient teams as they learned to create their own processes.
[G] - Goals
When we are talking about team motivation then „Clear Goal Setting“ is definitely something that should not be missed.
Setting specific and clear goals leads to greater output and better performance.
Also, ensure to break big goals into more manageable chunks.
[H] - Happy Monday - Happy Weekend
H1) Motivational Monday
I have recently started sending a message via Asana to the whole team to wish them a great start to the week. I am also always sending a fun gif or a motivational message such as the below examples:
Now it is important to come up with different messages and gifs so the team does not know what exactly to expect.
H2) Happy Weekend Message
The same that I do on Monday‘s I do on Friday as well. Often I attach a fun video too.
[I] - Ideas
Encourage your team members to come up with and share ideas.
In our company, we have an idea column in every project. Could be ideas related to Marketing, Website Landing Pages, Social Media, etc.
Whenever a team member comes up with an idea or finds something interesting in an article they read or video they watched they would notify their coordinator who then creates the task in the relevant Asana project and discusses it with the team in order to decide whether it is worth testing or not. (Or the team member creates the task directly and assigns it to the coordinator)
[J] - Judging
Don’t judge team members purely based on the results of one task.
Often we tend to be very critical when mistakes are made one time, although 9 out of 10 times things are done correctly.
Whenever mistakes are made speak to the team to find out why (5 WHYs).
We are all human, sometimes maybe personal issues, unrelated to work did impact the result or maybe there is a clinch between team members you were unaware about.
[K] - Knowledge Base
Set up a company Wiki that covers everything your team needs to know or might need to look up at some point in time. Such as all infos on the services/products you are selling, how the invoicing and payment process works, what to do when they want to take time off, etc
Here you can also add all the SOPs/ Work Guides created.
[L] - Love
Show your team appreciation:
L1. I feel that showing your team enough appreciation often comes a bit short with remote work. Especially when people or let’s say leaders in a company/ coordinators/ PMs are not really used to remote work yet.
And then on top of that add that they are stressed and super busy and managing xx team members.
So I recommend setting a recurring reminder task for yourself regarding this matter so you never forget this. If you have a big team maybe split it into groups and every 1-2 weeks pick a few team members.
Even a personal thank you with a smiley, short voice msg pointing out a special achievement will help you to push the motivation of your team.
That does not mean you should not also be strict when it requires it.
L2. Asana has some lovely [appreciation stickers] as well
L3. Use GIFs now and then. Don‘t we all love them?
A funny gif on a stressful day can really do wonders I believe.
People will work for recognition and opportunity more than they’ll work for anything else. - Marcus Lemonis
[M] - Meetings
Ensure meetings are efficient.
Team meetings are important but not always necessary.
Set clear guidelines on when team members should hold meetings and when they are not needed. Why? Because otherwise, they might end up scheduling xx meetings without any real or low outcome as this is also super demotivating if nothing could be achieved.
A few key rules we set:
Before arranging a meeting the coordinator has to evaluate whether it is really needed or the topic can be quickly discussed via the Asana task directly (which has proven to work in most cases also because often it is anyway difficult to schedule a call due to different timezones).
Set a clear agenda that is placed into the meeting Asana task
Set a clear max time for the call
Define a meeting leader and somebody who will take notes and later prepare the action steps in Asana
Ensure that the meeting starts with providing an overview, then discussing the planned topics, question round and at the end a summary.
If the meeting tends to go off topic the meeting leader has to step in (That does not mean that there shouldn‘t be any jokes made or fun stories told - this is important also sometimes, however it should not go into the extreme as I have experienced this a lot of times already that meetings that could be completed within 15-20 minutes ending up taking nearly 1h with no extra value provided
You can also connect Zoom to Asana so the recording is automatically added.
- Evernote or Google Docs can be used for meeting notes or you can directly add the notes in Asana with all action steps as subtasks
Here is a meeting Asana project template: Meeting Agenda Template - Staff, Formal, Kickoff • Asana and you can find more templates on Templana
[N] - Newsletters
In our team, it has also proven to work well to have one main Asana project that covers the key things such as „Anonymous feedback form“, „Unavailability of team members“, „Getting to know the team“, „Newsletters“, „Useful Programs“
I call it „Team Newsletters“
The way I set it up is that only I have edit access and all team members have comment only access + I ensure that notifications are enabled so everybody receives any updates I post or messages I send via this project.
Here is how I set it up:
N1. Company-wide announcments
This way I can also send company-wide announcements very easily and I even stopped using emails for these because in Asana I can track who marks the message with thumbs up so I know they read it.
Now don‘t assume everybody in the team will read the msgs or mark them with thumbs up.
1a) you have to inform your team that you need them to mark these messages with thumbs up, because they are sent for a reason so everybody should read them.
To ensure you are aware of who did so the thumbs up is great.
Things won‘t always run smoothly, be prepared for some „special candidates“ how I tend to call team members that need some extra push or special treatment/ one on one calls to have then understand WHY this is important.
N2. Regular company newsletters
We have started doing this years ago in our company based on feedback we have received from our team members that they would like to receive more insight into company areas/projects they are normally not involved in.
For example, the customer support team would communicate with the marketing team regarding some specific things such as promotions, new product launches etc
There is always a connection between various teams, however, somebody working in CS most often won‘t know specifics on which marketing campaigns worked really well and why. Or somebody from logistics might not know about awesome feedback or testimonial video a CS team member received from a customer.
Why is that? Because everybody has their expertise and therefore works in specific teams and on specific tasks.
Now to give you another example: I work for a CEO that owns various companies: B2B and B2C. This means that the majority of team members working on the B2C side don‘t know what‘s going on on the B2B side.
Implementing a company-wide newsletter covering key updates and achievements on all areas of the company will provide everybody with a great overview and they get a better understanding / „whole picture“ + it helps communicate the vision and goals for the upcoming period.
I usually use Google Forms for newsletters as this allows me to split it into various sections with the ability for the team to also leave questions or notes after every section. And the results would flow into Asana so I can monitor who read it and what feedback they shared
N3. Unavailability of team members
Here you can have one task or various tasks within a column listing when team members are unavailable.
In the monthly newsletter, I would also point out who is unavailable and when for the upcoming month.
Remind your team also to use the vacation indicator feature in Asana: How to control your profile settings in Asana | Product guide • Asana
[O] - Onboarding
Ensure that your initial onboarding process is structured and covers all aspects that you would like them to know about.
How they are onboarded is kind of the first impression about you, your company and your team. So spend some time on this and think about it carefully, and prepare nice task templates/projects for the onboarding process
[P] - Personality
Getting to know each other
In our onboarding pack, we also ask our new team members to complete a personality test such as Free Personality Test | 16Personalities to get to know them better.
Additionally, we ask them to prepare one Asana task where they share some details about them such as hobbies, fun facts and more + share some pics
It could look like this:
All the tasks would be added in a separate column/section in the Asana newsletter project.
[Q] - Questions
Anonymous feedback form
This form contains some important questions and empty fields so team members can share their concerns in an anonymous way. (Currently I use google forms)
Some team members would tell you straight up when something annoys them, but not everybody is like that, hence why such form works really well.
Usually, we have a ritual that we also send such form at the end of the year + we add fields to ask for specific feedback about team members (whoever wants to take part will be listed).
Doing this gives another push of appreciation for the upcoming year.
So far I can say by doing this a few times already the team loves it
This form would be also added to the main newsletter project in Asana.
[R] - Recommendations
R1) Book recommendation list
Over the years we have also collected a book reading list that contains book and article recommendations for various topics.
Whenever a team member has a recommendation they would submit it as well with the reason of why they think it is worth reading it.
R2) Program recommendations
We also have a list of programs we recommend the team to use that can help them to take notes such as Evernote or Google docs and sheets or help them improve their writing skills such as Grammarly etc and many more (Note: I am not affiliated with any of these programs just mentioning here what we use)
[S] - SOPs
It is also important to keep in mind that team members feel more valuable when they are learning and enhancing their skills.
To inspire and motivate your team to achieve great results you should provide them with opportunities for growth and development.
In our company we have a folder with all SOPs (work guides) and whoever is interested in learning something new they can find everything they need in this folder.
We constantly update the guides.
[T] - Team Work & Transparency
Promoting and encouraging teamwork boosts productivity because it makes team members feel less isolated and helps them to feel more engaged with their tasks.
Competitions can be a great motivator to strengthen teamwork but they should be set up in a friendly way meaning make sure that you’re not incentivizing moral hazard and focus especially on the teams.
Lack of transparency can erode the trust and credibility that you’ve worked hard to maintain at your company. Newsletters are a great way to achieve transparency.
[U] - U are awesome - U did it
Can be successfully completed projects, goals achieved, etc.
This can also be done via the monthly team newsletter or in the main newsletter Asana project.
[V] - Vision
A key driver of motivation is when team members can see all their efforts are driving towards something.
They need to know that there’s a destination in sight.
That’s why it is very important to clearly communicate your company vision.
You could add this in your main Asana team/project overview.
And always communicate any key updates/achievements/changes in the regular newsletters.
[W] - Why
Always explain the WHY
In combination with setting goals, it is of the same importance to focus on the WHY so your team clearly understands the importance of why something has to be done.
Let‘s assume a website change has to be completed to test a new marketing strategy to find out which product sells better as this is crucial for stock planning.
If you just tell a team member to execute the task without info they would not understand the importance of it. So ensure they have the full picture in order for them to be in the loop.
Knowing all details about a task will also allow them to organize them in order of priority.
[X] - Xtra Delight
When you and your team are in a very stressful period show them the extra delight feature, trust me they will love it when they test it out for the first time not knowing what to expect
In order for Tab-B and Tab-V to work its magic, be sure you have “Extra Delight” turned on in the Hacks tab of your Profile Settings:
You can find these and more keyboard shortcuts in this list: Keyboard shortcuts in Asana | Product guide • Asana
[Y] - Yeti
Ensure your team members have „Celebrations“ enabled Celebration Creatures • Asana
Once enabled, one of the four celebration creatures (a unicorn, yeti, narwhal, or phoenix) will sometimes fly across your screen like a shooting star as you complete tasks. Celebrations are randomly generated and won’t occur each time you complete a task, but the more you complete, the more they’ll visit!
Now please also ensure they know how to disable them if they want to as everybody is different and for some people in your team they might get enough over time!
(Whoever wants more celebrations I recommend to upvote here: Additional and customizable Asana celebrations)
[Z] - Zen
Find your inner zen
Work can be really stressful at times.
I recommend providing some ideas to your team on how each and everybody can cope with stress and how they can find their inner zen.
Can be sport, yoga, breathing exercises, painting, power nap, calming music, etc.
You could even hire an expert to offer a meditation session once every while for whoever wants to take part.
So that‘s it for now Have some more ideas but we reached the last letter in the alphabet
Would love to hear your thoughts on the above
And do you have any other tips and tricks that work well for your remote team?