Legal, Compliance & Finance Recruitment

Leading remote teams to peak motivation


So you successfully managed to move your team to working remotely? 

Well done.

Unfortunately, that’s only half the leadership challenge.

The critical question for you as a leader is: How do you keep your team members who are working from home truly motivated?

You see when we work from home our mindset drifts into tactical mode.

It's a very natural thing to do.

Tactical mode, as in-house legal & compliance professionals, means we tend to prioritise only our core tasks when we work from home - answering legal or compliance queries from our business colleagues, or drafting contracts or compliance documentation etc.

At 6 or 7pm, after a day of fielding and completing a flurry of tactical queries and tasks, we log off with a sense of “busy day satisfaction” that is motivating.   

That “busy day satisfaction” as motivating fuel for most of us will only last so long.

Especially when during Covid many of us are facing emotional and economic pressures.

Your team members are worried about losing their jobs, paying their rent and protecting their health. 

As a leader you need to step up and create a motivating and productive remote working culture for your team.

So what can you do?

We need to think about positive motivators. 

Each of you will know your team(s) best - but, by and large - most professionals are motivated by what has become known as play, purpose and potential.

Play covers work outside of your individual tactical tasks. Many on your team will miss working on novel legal & compliance problems being faced by the business, or the fun of working with a colleague to solve a problem, and or the ease of making decisions when everyone is in the same room. 

Purpose is about feedback and feeling that you are making an impact. Being in the office amongst colleagues and internal clients provides an automatic and daily feedback loop. Being out of the office will leave many on your team lacking visibility of their impact.

Potential is about personal development. Working from home will necessarily reduce the access that your team members have to colleagues and superiors who teach and develop them.

When you remove people's play and purpose motivation levels drop. It is this human characteristic that caused soldiers in high stakes incidents and traders trying to shore up the markets during the credit crisis to report their highest levels of motivation.

Your job as a leader is to figure out ways to ensure that your team gets a good dose of play, purpose and potential whilst remote working. To make sure that the team does not get into the demotivating spiral of only doing things tactical because they will slowly only do the bare minimum.

The most powerful way to achieve this is to proactively give your team members the opportunity to experiment, flex their mental creativity and solve problems that really matter.  

You can execute this by introducing a special weekly innovation zoom team meet. This meeting should focus on defining and allocating play, purpose and potential activities. 

Foster a conversation amongst your team members on issues like:

What is broken in the way we work that we should fix?

What are the most critical problems facing our internal clients that we can help with?

What impact did we have last week on the business? 

Who on the team can you help this week and how? 

In the end - it won’t happen immediately -  these meetings will end with everyone on the team either reflecting on, committing to and or reporting on a play, purpose or potential task or activity.

This exercise compounded over many weeks will do a great deal to build a motivated remote working culture in your team.

Many of the ideas above, are the brainchild of two New York Times Bestselling authors and described in their book Primed to Perform