October 15, 2021 by Andrea Rajic
Teamwork makes the dream work, right?
In a hyper-connected world and workplace, we depend on our coworkers and managers to get our work done and contribute to business goals. Keeping a team of people motivated and eager to exceed their goals isn't always straightforward, and it's no wonder managers reach for tips and productivity hacks to make it happen.
In this article, we'll analyze the connection between motivation and productivity, the importance of communication, and how to know if your team is really happy and productive. We also spoke to a few dozen managers and asked them about specific motivation and productivity tips they use every week.
If productivity is one of the core metrics in the workplace, how can executives and managers prevent it from dropping?
While there are factors that impact how productive a person is during each day, on a collective scale, it often boils down to motivation and engagement.
Companies with disengaged and unmotivated workers face challenges like absenteeism, low retention rates, and poor performance - all of which impact the overall business results.
Before diving into how real managers motivate their teams, let's discuss why this is critical in hybrid and remote companies.
When your team is distributed across the country, and sometimes even the world, it's more important than ever to keep people motivated. This is where communication steps in. Developing clear, transparent, and engaging communication processes is essential for motivating a distributed workforce.
For this article, we asked real managers to let us into their process of managing and motivating their teams to maximize their results. Here's what they told us works for them:
Encouraging people to recognize the impact they have on the company can serve as a great motivator, and the team at Hypercontext knows this:
It's vital that employees understand how they can make an impact and see how their efforts affect the team and company. People get to share their wins/impact with the team, and we all celebrate them! The second piece of motivating our team is trusting them and being there to support them.
Across the company, we take a stance that when we hire people for a role, it's because they're good at what they do. We're not there to micromanage but enable them to do great work. So we set company-wide, team, and individual goals and trust that our team has the knowledge and skills to accomplish them. Talking about our goals every week means we have ample opportunities to discuss blockers and challenges, come up with solutions to tackle them and keep pushing."
Sometimes, the best motivation for employees is knowing they are appreciated - and this is easily achievable with small but thoughtful gestures.
"I strive to give my team a sense of purpose, belonging, and accountability - these three work best when they are together. Everyone appreciates little things like birthday and anniversary cards and gifts, team lunch or coffee days, a great team-building activity, and of course - flexible work hours." - Sheetal Kale, Alcor Solutionc, Inc.
For some teams, it's all about keeping a healthy balance of all topics.
"We spend 15 mins every day on calls discussing life beyond work. This has helped us to communicate better. When working in a hybrid ecosystem, chances of misunderstanding increase, and there's a lack of dispute resolutions. We ensure we talk beyond work, so there's always other reasons to break the ice and connect."
We share "What's Your Find?" on our team's Whatsapp Group that includes the latest updates of our industry. This is not only productive from a knowledge perspective but allows healthy discussions to take place.
Finally, we offer WFH days for people working from the office when they need it. My team's motto is to get the best work done, so we're flexible about location and hours. You need to allow your employees to feel empowered to own their responsibilities. So, we listen! I believe that for a remarkable output, you have to give people a thriving, inspiring work ecosystem that comes with goals. Recognition on a global platform where their families can see their achievements has helped us largely."
When people have a deep understanding of their productivity and workflow, it's much easier to manage expectations and results.
"I encourage my team to understand their productivity flows. Content marketing relies heavily on creativity and writing focus. As a team, it helps us to know how long we need to produce a specific type of content. We also understand you cannot force creativity, and sometimes words won't come to you. In these cases, it helps to take a break, listen to a podcast, or go out for a walk. That means your best work will happen at 2 AM on a Tuesday, whereas on other days, your productivity will kick off right after that morning coffee."
We kick off the week planning with tasks that we already know about (and have committed to). That should always take up to 70% of our weekly capacity. The remaining 30% is "saved" for unplanned tasks that occur without prior notice or tasks that need our immediate attention. If no such tasks come up during a week, we use the time to work on the "backlog" assignments we collect in our ideas document. All of that is backed by check-ins that happen either on a call (up to 15 mins) or asynchronously.
For me, the best way to motivate people is to identify their strengths and unique contribution to the team, give them tools, guidance, and trust. Always leave the door open for them to ask questions, but never force anything. Cater to their working style and respect when it is different from yours. Agree on processes and document everything."
Different roles have different workflows, and it's important to acknowledge that, even inside the same team.
"The key to team productivity is to develop systems and processes that work best for each type of project. For example, on our team, we have specific workflows for content, partners, SEO, and all other marketing channels. Each process uses a framework of working backward from crucial milestones and dates. I strive to keep my team motivated by recognizing their work while always helping them level up their skills." - Alessandra Colaci, Mailshake
When you deploy some of these motivational tactics with your team, it's good to have ways to know how they feel at any time and whether they are productive. We have some recommendations for you on that as well:
Regularly taking the pulse of your team will help you understand what works for them and what doesn't - and not only in terms of motivation. Surveys, 1-on-1 meetings, and async check-ins should be part of every manager's weekly to-do list.
By now, most managers know to steer clear of metrics related to presenteeism and move towards output-related KPIs. Setting realistic, transparent, and measurable KPIs ensures that nobody on your team is confused about their responsibilities.
For managers of hybrid and remote workforces, staying in the know is sometimes cumbersome and time-consuming. If your team likes to get together in a physical workspace, it's helpful to know where and how they use those spaces, what motivates them to come, and how productive they are. Luckily for you, you can measure all that with Gable's dashboard.
When your team is struggling to stay on top of their game, achieve their goals, and do their best work, dig into your managerial wisdom and help them shine. Small gestures, consistent check-ins, and structured goals make all the difference in increasing team productivity and your own expertise as a manager.