6 Ways to Motivate Your Team Remotely

So you have an amazing team supporting you – congratulations! 

(Imagine me toasting you with a frequently refilled coffee cup here.)

You put in the time to find the perfect folks for marketing/finance/admin/customer service, etc, you’ve made a pact that will keep your relationship humming along, and you’re ready to hunker down – on your respective sides of the country (or even the globe) – and do the work.

But how can you keep your team excited, engaged, and working hard when you’re just a name in their inbox? How do you motivate your team when you’re working in different time zones?

I’m so glad you asked! I’ve spent the last 10 years helping companies build teams, many of them spread over time zones and country lines. And I’m leading my own team across the country and working on keeping everyone motivated. Based on what I’ve learned, here are six ways you can keep your team motivated and encouraged – even if you’re thousands of miles away.

1. Schedule regular video calls and occasional face to face meetings
There’s something about making eye contact (even if it’s through a video camera) that connects people. When you’re talking face to face, motivation is contagious. Your smile, your eyes, your tone of voice show your team that you’re excited about the work you’re doing and you’re glad they’re along for the ride.

And aside from putting in the face time, regular meetings help everyone stay on track and stay motivated – particularly important when you’re working on slow-moving, long-term projects.

Even more effective than regular Skype or Google hangouts? In-person meetings. Arrange to meet up in real life at least once a year; it’s a great way to get to know your team better and show them how invested you are. I like to take my team out to lunch or drinks once a quarter for a more informal setting to get to know “how’s it going for you?”

2. Give them honest feedback on what’s working and what’s not
Your team wants to excel, they want to know what’s working and what could be better. Constant, universally positive feedback actually does little to motivate a team. They’ll respect you more and work harder if you tell them “I can see that these tweets you wrote did really well. Great job on that! Now, I’d like you to examine them and think about how we can create more social media successes like these since our Facebook page isn’t having as much success.”

3. Praise them in public
Use social media to sing your team’s praises. Promoting your team is a win/win – it shows them how much you appreciate them and your followers see that you’re a supportive boss. They’ll be thrilled to check their Twitter notifications and find “I couldn’t imagine my team without @awesomeVA and @great_designer. They’re irreplaceable!”

4. Create a real, concrete development plan for them
Once we’ve found our dream team, we often dive headlong into work. Let’s use those social media skills! Write that copy! Launch that program! But long-term motivation comes from loyal, committed team members – and we create loyal, committed team members by investing.

I’ve been using this method to develop great working relationships and engaging development plans for years. It helps me unearth my employees’ professional goals, their weak spots, their annoyances, and their biggest dreams. Once I know these things, I can make sure I’m giving them duties that work to their strengths and sending them to conferences where they can build their skills.

5. Share your wins
If your designer spent six months laboring over that presentation, she’ll want to know that you landed The Dream Client. If your ghostwriter’s post went viral, let her know! Your team will be motivated to give you their best work when they see how it’s used in a broader context.

6. Send them gifts (and not just gift cards)
This isn’t required but it’s certainly appreciated! A small, thoughtful gift goes a long way to building loyalty and motivation. What about an early, hardcover edition of their favorite book, something that will help them conquer that new hobby, or just some delicious treats from your home state and a spontaneous “Thanks for all you do!” card?

With just a few tweaks you can create a more supportive, more productive team – whether you’re across town or across the globe.

Over to you! Do you work remotely? How do you keep your team motivated? Share your best tips in the comments!

Susan Drumm

Susan Drumm spent over a decade teaching companies like L’Oreal, Viacom and Condé Nast how to lead their teams towards multi-million dollar growth. Now she uses those same leadership skills to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses to seven-figure success. Your success as an entrepreneur depends on your ability to hire, inspire and lead team. Follow @DrummLeadership on Twitter and get Susan’s free ebook on hiring your dream VA here.

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