How to use recognition to drive your remote team
How can we make remote teams work together effectively? Many teams are currently operating in this way, on a scale never seen before. While some may already be used to working with those they rarely (or never) meet, there are many more for whom this is a new experience.
What we already instinctively know is that the further apart we actually are from one another, the closer we need to feel, in order to remain motivated and engaged. This becomes more important the longer any team works across different locations. Technology is the great enabler for all sorts of teams to function effectively, but the real difference in motivation and engagement in a virtual team is created by an altogether more “human” touch, with simple acts of recognition central to team success.
While many organisations are understandably focusing their efforts currently on the logistics of making working from home possible, there will soon be another, bigger, challenge in the weeks ahead – using the toolkit of best practice needed to make a success of this new environment over a sustained period of time.
- Recognition is tried and trusted. Recognition has long been a driver of engagement - employees consistently highlight it as a powerful motivational tool. This is why research from the Top Employers Institute, for example, shows that nearly three-quarters (73%) of the top-performing companies in the UK now have a recognition awards system, two-thirds (67%) have peer-to-peer recognition initiatives in place, while over a half (54%) formally recognise team achievements.
- The little things make a big impact. However, recognition doesn’t have to be formal in order to be effective. Simple acts of recognition can also make a big difference - and need not be time-consuming nor costly. It’s the little things that can make a big impact. The recognition could of course be an instant reward in the form of cash, but it doesn’t have to be. It could also be a simple “Thank you” in front of the team, an email of appreciation, or praise on a social platform. But whatever it is, make sure the recognition is visible and helps you build team unity.
- It’s all about the mindset. Particularly when it comes to remote teams, the nature of the recognition is less important than the mindset that drives it. What really matters is that you commit to a culture of recognition - this requires a conscious, consistent and sustained effort. When recognition is delivered well in this way, it will help to keep all members of the team feeling motivated.
- Praise must come from the top (and everywhere else). Buy-in from the top management team is key for bringing recognition alive - appreciation from a director has a powerful impact for most employees. Yet a highly motivated and engaged team needs acts of recognition from all sides - not only from the leader. So the recognition mindset must extend from top to bottom - other team members also need to be encouraged to give extra respect and recognition for colleagues with whom they work. So whether you manage a remote team - or just work in one - recognition requires a conscious effort from everyone, with no exceptions
- Keep your eye on the bigger prize. The prize could be great for those who can get recognition for their remote team right in the coming weeks and months. The 2019 Global Workspace Survey by International Workplace Group shows that 85% of business leaders believe introducing greater flexibility into their workplace has increased employee productivity. To have many more team members working remotely from one another is therefore so much more than an obstacle to overcome.
A well-thought through approach to recognition, allied to the positive benefits of workplace flexibility, gives every business hope that there may be a massive opportunity ahead.
If you would like to learn more about setting up a recognition scheme in your organisation, please click here.