How To Motivate Your Remote Team

By: Willem Delventhal

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about managing remote teams in which I mentioned “Celebration” as one of my top three tips. Today one of our community members asked me how I go about celebrating my team and keep them motivated. Here are a few ideas!

1. Call out and recognize the accomplishments of your team members:

Always be sure to call out cool stuff that people do. For instance, I’m consistently careful to mention who came up with ideas when talking to others, especially leadership. “Oh yeah this new system we’re building, which was Surya’s idea, is…” Also do this when talking to them 1 on 1. “I noticed that you added a new Discord channel and people seem to love it. Great work!” And finally, encourage them to do this for each other. This will happen naturally as you show it to be the norm, but you can speed it along by simply asking. “Did you see what Surya did? It was pretty epic!”

2. Compliment sandwiches actually work:

Compliment sandwiches, where you give a compliment followed by feedback followed by a compliment, work remarkably well for adults, not just for kindergartners. And it makes sense. We tend to remember “firsts” and “lasts” but everything in between gets a little grey. when you need to tell somebody that something needs improvement, start by telling them something they’re doing well. Then get into what could be improved, and frame it as such. It’s not a failure, it’s an opportunity for something even more epic. And finally finish with acknowledgement of their successes.

3. Sprint Celebrations:

If you are familiar with the concept of “Sprint Planning” (a scrum technique where the team decides what tasks need doing for the next two weeks) you’re also probably familiar with “Sprint Closing.” In a typical Sprint Closing people show what work they’ve done to hold everyone more accountable.

I often do what I call “Sprint Celebrations” instead. Instead of making it about accountability, make it about celebrating each other. Let everyone know that this meeting, usually about an hour, is exclusively to showcase what amazing stuff everyone accomplished. “Surya! What cool stuff did you build this week?” Add some clapping and jokes and suddenly you have an event people look forward to where they know they’ll get kudos from the team, instead of a chance for people to scrutinize them.

4. Make it fun:

And finally, just remember to enjoy your time working together. This means very different things for different people. My older brother loves an environment where people are kind of jerks to each other, but in fun way. Other people wouldn’t necessarily like that, but it worked for him and his team. So figure out what makes the work environment fun for your team, and then build towards that. Be a little silly where you can, and always stay patient and kind.

That’s all I have to say about celebrating for now! What are your ideas to encourage a culture of celebration?

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