How remote leaders can improve and maintain team morale

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Strong team morale is key to a company’s ongoing success, as happy and engaged employees are likely to stay with the organization, perform at high levels and do their best possible work. However, getting a pulse on employee satisfaction can be particularly challenging in a remote setting with limited face-to-face interaction.

Fortunately, with the right strategies, leaders can identify issues negatively impacting morale, then quickly take action to resolve them. Below, 15 members of Forbes Coaches Council share their best advice for remote leaders looking to keep their teams’ levels of camaraderie and job satisfaction high to ensure that employees will want to stick around.

  1. Share Strategy, Goals And Status

Transparent communication of strategy, goals and status is crucial for remote teams. Use the status meeting to show appreciation for productivity and continuous improvement and to acknowledge wins and milestones. Staff members want to know the leader’s expectations and values and how the leader processes information. Identify and acknowledge the complementary strengths of individual team members. – Laura RauThe Entrepreneur’s Source (TES)

  1. Be Proactive

It is important to be proactive in listening to the team, understanding their concerns and taking action to motivate, inspire and improve morale. By understanding the issues that may be causing low morale, as well as the measures that can be taken to lift spirits, it is possible to create a happier, more productive working environment for everybody. – Lara Augusta DizdarevicEmbracing Potentiality

  1. Hold Regular Meetings

In order for leaders of teams in remote settings to stay on top of culture and be aware of issues that could potentially impact morale, it will be very important for them to hold regular meetings and request feedback on a regular basis, acting and pivoting when needed. – Carmelina PiedraCareerCoachingPro

  1. Show Curiosity

Show curiosity by asking questions and always seeking feedback. When receiving feedback, do not criticize it, as it will prevent teams from being open about how they feel. All feedback is valid, whether you agree or disagree with it. Treat feedback as data that can be used to take action in alignment with the team’s vision and business objectives. Remember that happier teams create impactful value. – Nada

  1. Host Competitions And Fun Events

Weekly meetings and check-ins are vital to businesses working remotely. Monthly surveys and check-ins are helpful, too. To keep teams engaged, competitions and fun stuff can also have a positive impact on team morale. Prizes could include wellness products—such as meditation courses, books, book clubs and other mindset-oriented products—that are accessible from home or perhaps through a weekly or monthly wellness group. – Daren HendersonTrade Coach Ltd

  1. Solicit And Share Feedback

To stay aware, the leader should incorporate frequent, one-on-one check-ins with each member of their team. The leader should practice non-defensive listening techniques and solicit feedback on what is working and what the team member would like to see changed, taking in the feedback without defending it or supporting it. Next, the leader should share the findings with the team. – Cathy BonczekCCB Communications. LLC

  1. Talk To Opinion Leaders

Start with opinion leaders (the people on the team with the most social capital), and ask them to tell you stories to illustrate their concerns. Resist the temptation to take things personally or try to fix them. Get a good representation of both people who seem happy and people who seem unhappy. After a handful of conversations, you’ll have a sense of some of the behaviors that are contributing to concerns. – Justin HaleCrucial Learning

  1. Read Between The Lines

In the ever-evolving virtual workplace, staying curious and reading between the lines is as important as it has always been. Pay attention to nuances such as tone of voice and levels of participation in meetings, as well as customer feedback, for a thorough understanding of your team’s morale. Also, seek input on how best to improve employees’ experiences, making sure no opportunity to make progress is missed. – Andrea WanerstrandA3 Culture Lab

  1. Keep Questions Specific

One-on-ones are important, even if they must be conducted via Zoom. Interacting individually and attempting to understand employees’ pain points will provide leaders insight on how to collectively improve the perceived work environment. In the one-on-one, remember to keep the questions specific. For example, you can ask, “Do you feel any pressure to work more hours?” and, “Do you have all the tools you need to be successful?” – Amera McCoyMcCoy Consulting LLC

  1. Build A Culture Of Engagement

Remote leaders must establish a culture of engagement that allows the team to feel heard and valued. Scheduling short and frequent (daily or weekly) opportunities to meet with team members on camera helps leaders read unspoken body language and tone. Remote leaders must take immediate action regarding persistent issues to ensure the virtual environment is still working for everyone. – Meredith Leigh MooreLeverette Weekes

  1. Schedule Regular One-To-One Time

Remote workers are often lumped together, but they are still individuals. Leaders should build in consistent, scheduled one-to-one time with each team member to provide the type of conversation, attention and feedback that drives engagement and sustains morale. Keep your team members from getting swallowed up in a technology loop. Ask. Listen. Recognize. Act. – Cathy LanzalacoInspire Careers LLC

  1. Follow A Five-Step Communication Structure

Have consistent daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly communication. A dependable, consistent communication structure gives leaders the chance to provide answers in real time, course correct, give a booster shot of confidence and encourage team-centric collaboration. Follow a five-step structure that includes daily huddles and progress reports, weekly stakeholder meetings, monthly employee wellness checks, quarterly employee growth plans and annual strategic retreats. – Molly McGrathHiring & Empowering Solutions, LLC

  1. Encourage Self-Assessment

Ask teams to self-assess—often. Teams that get in the habit of doing self-assessment become more self-aware and more proactive. Using online polls is easy, and most offer anonymous options. Set up a monthly meeting to resolve the issues. In this era, not all issues are fixable. Focus the team on solving what they can and supporting each other through what they cannot. – Maureen CunninghamUp Until Now Inc.

  1. Check In With The Whole Person

Remote teams experience fear of missing out and are at high risk of being disconnected. Check in regularly, almost daily, through different means, such as email, chat, text and Teams or Zoom. Check in with the whole person to determine what is meaningful to them—that includes family, health, career aspirations, time-off plans, values and purpose. Make sure their input is clearly shown in decisions and outcomes. – Curtis L JenkinsJenkins & Associates

  1. Be Objective, Fair And Transparent

The most frequently cited obstacle to leading an all-remote team is the fact that communicating and setting expectations are difficult challenges to tackle. Factor in time zone differences, and language and cultural differences can add to this wicked mess of complexity. The leader needs to be objective and create a sense of fairness about the way in which issues are brought up and discussed, as well as make the decision-making process clear. – Thomas LimTechnicorum Holdings