Every manager wants to build successful teams. On the surface, it sounds simple. Put together a group of high-performing individuals, keep attrition low, find innovative solutions to your clients’ needs and keep the customer happy. This happy picture, though, requires a ton of work behind the scenes. This can be especially true in a digital, globalized world where distributed multinational teams may work in different countries and time zones, and where managers have to find creative new ways to build tight-knit crews of engineers.
One core issue is that companies often misunderstand worker motivation, and attempt to use ‘process’ and ‘paperwork’ as a way of directing employee energy into their product. In reality, process can stifle creativity. Who comes to work so that they can fill out bi-weekly progress reports and receive lists of tasks?
The great irony here is that a lot of companies who fall clearly into this category spend a lot of time and money investing in motivational speakers and team-building exercises instead of focusing on how to motivate employees themselves or eliminate those factors that kill a team’s energy.
To define the things that destroy teams, let’s look more closely at some of the worst practices of building and managing them:
It's hard to move quickly and purposefully if you don’t know where you’re going. An even bigger problem occurs when employees see a big difference between what you planned for them and what was actually delivered. Try to stay transparent and direct with your team to avoid unkept promises and fuzzy plans for the future. If you keep your team involved in the planning process, they’ll feel a heightened sense of ownership and you’ll have a much clearer idea of what’s really going on.
Flexibility and collaboration are great, but it’s a problem when members of a remote team don’t understand their responsibilities or lines of communication. Make sure your developers know what’s expected of them, and who to speak with if there are problems.
Identifying and rewarding achievement is one of the best ways of motivating a team. Don’t let your team’s successes go unnoticed or unremarked on.
This is the best way to kill initiative and zap talent. While it’s important for managers to control quality and take responsibility for big decisions, requiring team members to approve every step destroys personal responsibility and creativity.
Sometimes managers are so focused on how to motivate a team for the short-term that they ignore the accumulating fatigue. The danger of ignoring fatigue is that its consequences are difficult to overestimate. They may vary from a decrease in the quality of work to, in extreme cases, attrition.
Boredom is burnout’s evil twin, and its effects can be just as extreme. What makes it especially dangerous is that a company can lose its most ambitious and motivated team members to other projects or businesses.
It’s a fact that most problems in the workplace start with misunderstanding. To minimize the degree to which team members misunderstand each other, create conditions for employees to share their concerns and ideas with management, and make sure the team itself engages in healthy, respectful dialogues.
Impossible-to-reach targets frustrate people. Teams usually succeed when they get gradually more complex assignments and have clearly set goals.
When goals change often and seemingly without purpose, developers lose motivation and start to question the sustainability of the project. What’s more, unexpected changes in direction give the impression of incompetent administration and poor initial planning.
Humor creates a positive team environment and draws people to the office every morning. Maintaining a lighthearted atmosphere builds trust between team members, and mitigates the risk of misunderstandings and burnout.
We all want to be rewarded for our achievements. At the same time, it’s important for team members to receive fair and timely feedback on their work. One strategy for making sure the members of your team get both recognition and fair appraisal is to commend publicly those who deserve it and share constructive criticism in face-to-face meetings.
Staff involvement fosters motivation and loyalty. When every member of the team feels like they have the power to contribute good ideas and influence the direction of the team, they’ll put their heart and soul into the work.
If you’re looking to build a remote team abroad, we can help you find and recruit talented developers, and help them stay focused and motivated. Daxx provides custom team recruitment, managed office space, and best practices whether you’re putting together a team of two or twenty. You take care of the management, while we take care of back-office hassles like payroll and administration.
If you’re interested in hearing more about how we can help you build your dream team, contact us using the form below.