How do I manage and motivate my team now they are working remotely?

Published: 18th May 2020

We have been in lockdown for over 6 weeks and I am still getting questions from clients “How do I manage and motivate my team now they are working remotely?”


At first it might have been seen as short term, a couple of weeks and things will change.  However we’ve all been learning and utilising technology to help working from home.  So where do I start when I think of managing a remote team?


Firstly as a manager, this may be completely new to you?  Having worked in the office each day, meetings with the team at 9.30am and you can pop down the corridor whenever you need.  Well I have spoken to clients about stepping back to evaluate their own skills and competence in managing a virtual team first?


I like to use Situational Leadership as a model is illustrated below:



I ask clients to self assess their own development level for the task and then think about their team development levels for working remotely, some might already have worked from home in a previous business?  Some may never have worked from home?


I remind clients to look in the mirror, they need to manage themselves before managing others.  Reflect themselves first and ensure they are practicing the model for their own goals, before sharing this with their team.  Goals might have changed in response to Covid19, so if they have, are they clear?  One of the biggest impacts on competency and motivation is lack of clarity of goals.  Does the team understand and have a sense of purpose to achieve them?


Think about your team members for a moment?


You know them best, if you don’t this is a great opportunity to do so!  What are their strengths, weaknesses?  What tools have you used as a team previously?  Insights Discovery is a powerful self awareness and team development tool I have used for over 10 years.


Understanding the colour energy mix within your team will help you and your team achieve greater productivity, engagement and motivation, if you would like to know more, contact me as I am an accredited Insights Discovery Practitioner.



It might be you have used other tools such as Clifton Strengths?  As an accredited Strengths Coach this is another tool I can support with, understanding each of your teams top 5 strengths can really enable you to focus on the best of your team.


Reflect on each person in your team, where are they in terms of development level, what is their need from you in terms of management style?  I have clients asking “to manage my remote team should we have a call everyday?”  Well the answer; what is best for the individuals and the team?


If goals have significantly changed and your team need direction, then yes a daily call would be a great start and change this frequency as the team builds skill and confidence.  Think about personal circumstances? Children at home could be an added strain, a 9.30am call might just be challenging each day!  Talk to your team in your next meeting; how is it working?  What is working best?  What is not working?  How can the team achieve balance?


I like to remind clients that everyone is different, whether its coping with Covid19, home working, isolation, not being able to see family?


Flexibility is key as a manager


I like to talk about Golf as an analogy, this might just help stick with you! Why Golf?  Well a PGA golf bag has 14 clubs, why so many?  I have asked the golfing friends of mine and they would say in a round of golf they might use around 7 clubs, when I ask why, it is for the different shots or situations they get into.  Driver, wedge, putter, for distance, getting out of a bunker, on the putting green.  I ask could you complete a round of golf with one club?  I’m told you can but not very successfully.


So as a manager think about the management styles from Situational Leadership as your golf clubs, when working with your team what are their needs in different situations?  Apply Directive, Coaching, Supporting or Delegating behaviours, the key is to match, this is where management meets motivation.


Remember the question “how do I manage and motivate my team now they are working remotely?”


If as a manager you match the development level to the management  style you are likely to engage in great conversation and motivate that team member, as they will feel supported, they trust that you have their back and want them to achieve.


In times of change and crisis it is especially important to be present with the team and offer time to support, whilst you might be busy yourself, as a manager your focus is your team.It could be easy for you at home to get your “head down and getting on with it!  Consider your team and think how can I get the best from them.  So one to one conversations and team calls scheduled “How do I think about motivation?”  A reminder of tools mentioned previously Insights Discovery and Clifton Strengths, I heard many businesses hosting quizzes on zoom, bingo, team fancy dress, virtual lunch, all great but thinking of Extroverts and Introverts, Extrinsically and Intrinsically motivated people some will love and some loath!


Think about mixing up team events and ask team members for ideas, also individual motivation, nothing beats a personal card “Thankyou” a favourite chocolate bar or sweets.  If there are rewards maybe an early finish, takeaway delivered for the family, vouchers for a special treat after lockdown.


Connect personally, engage with them in meaningful conversations over the phone or via zoom, its so important to connect right now!


One great thing to come from this situation will be learning about each other more, spend time listening rather than when in a busy office it can be more “can I grab 5 minutes?” So the original question was “How do I manage and motivate my team now they are working remotely?” and I like to think it more as “How can I develop and grow my leadership skills and team performance and engagement right now?”


One thing we can be sure of is change will happen, so take the most out of this situation and be able to look back and say “Yes I managed and motivated my team to achieve all our goals during Covid19 2020”



Image 1 – Ken Blanchard Companies

Image 2 – Insights Discover,

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