When your team members are working harder and longer to serve your clients consider these tips to keep them motivated so they will be able to more effectively help you navigate through these challenging times:
- Positive reinforcement - Tell them they are doing a good job. It is a management best practice to do this anyways, but team members are seeking affirmation from you that their extra efforts are not going unnoticed. While it is obvious to do this in the moment, consider calling, messaging them randomly which can mean more because it sends the message you are thinking about them beyond when they had a big win. It could be something as simple as, “I’m really proud of how you have stepped up and appreciate your work on behalf of our clients.” Often as managers, we can get into a rut of only noticing what our people can be doing better without acknowledging what they have been doing well. I have found that my team does much better when I stay in ‘coach’ mode versus ‘corrector’ mode.
- Reiterate job security - Assuming your firm can withstand this temporary downturn, tell them that their job is safe. Team members want to hear from you that things are going to be okay and you have a plan. Just like your clients, they are craving open and honest transparency during these times. If things are not going to be okay, you should let them know that too. We have recently received the resumes of some talented people, who normally would not be seeking to move firms, because their firm did not plan and communicate appropriately.
- Perks - We realize that cash might be tight right now, but any perks you can offer during this time such as free tax preparation, buying lunch and having it delivered to their home, gift card for a few months of a Disney Plus subscription, especially if they have kids, to show them you appreciate their hard work goes along way. Keep in mind, too, that the cost of these things are minimal compared to the cost of having to replace a burned-out team member.
- Recharge – There is empirical data* that shows working longer hours leads to a decrease in cognitive function. Expecting your team members to operate at their highest and best cognitive levels for a full 8, 10,12, 15 hr., etc. workday is not realistic. Even entrepreneurs are not immune to this, which is why Dan Sullivan with Strategic Coach recommends Free days, Focus days, and Buffer days. Consider giving people a break even though it sounds counterintuitive. Maybe it is only a few hours, but the fact that you are suggesting it even if they do not end up taking it goes a long way. Our firm has always had an open vacation policy, but recently we implemented a mandatory one day off per month so our team members can rest and recharge their batteries as well because when they are working, I want them focused and delivering their best.
- Culture continuance - Make sure you have a Random, General, or Watercooler channel in your online messaging system (Slack, Salesforce, Skype, etc.) so you and your teammates can post memes, videos, etc. to keep the watercooler communications alive even while virtual. It may sound silly but hold a contest on who can post the funniest thing (that they found on their break!) and have the entire team vote at the end of the week and the winner gets a special prize. Everyone could use a little more humor right now and the friendly competition helps build culture and camaraderie.
This might be one of the most difficult times of your career especially if you have not have prior experience managing a remote team so we hope these will help you to use this time to strengthen your firm so you are positioned to come out ahead when this crises passes.