If you’re leading remote teams, you’ve probably discovered how Zoom has become as much a part of life as brushing your teeth—when you have time to do that. Even though some places are finally opening up again, remote gatherings are here to stay. And if you’re managing remote teams, how do you know how to keep them motivated, productive, connected, and happy?
That’s right. Happiness is critical. Because if your team is stressed out, you can forget about meeting deadlines with the quality you expect. I’ve tried a number of strategies, but once again, I’ve got to call on Sigmund Freud for some extra help.
In case you missed my previous articles published on Hacker Noon, here’s a quick refresher of how Freud got involved:
First, he helped a couple, George and Nikita, over Zoom (he simply time traveled) as they dealt with George’s desire to change careers, leave his corporate job, and become a freelance game developer. There was a lot of angst and guilt over this decision and, after all, who knows more about that than Sigmund Freud? (Larry David and Woody Allen were unavailable, so Freud seemed like the best option). In case you missed that article, you can read about it here:
After they worked through that challenge, they both became freelancers.
In the next article, George decided to take a leap to become an entrepreneur and develop a plan to hire some freelancers to work for him. George is facing some big challenges and opportunities and reviews his ideas with Freud in this article:
Here's what’s happening now with George and Nikita.
Nikita: George, why are you eating so much of the candy from our daughter’s trick-or-treat bag? She just brought it home the other night and will know that it’s gone.
George: I can’t help it. I’m stressed out and when that happens, my willpower slips. I recently hired some remote workers to help me with a major project and my client is a bit demanding. Our virtual meetings drag on and I have no idea how I’m going to make my deadlines. Hey—can you pass that can of soda over here? I’ll have some of that cake, too.
Nikita: Maybe you should get some help.
George: No. I can drink the soda and eat the cake by myself.
Nikita: Not that kind of help. I’m talking about Freud. Let’s bring him back for a quick meeting.
George: Well, if you insist, go ahead. But I’m sure he’s super busy right now with everyone dealing with the ups and downs of this pandemic.
Nikita: It’s okay. He accepted our Zoom invitation.
Freud appears on the laptop.
Freud: Nikita and George. I haven’t seen you for a while. Is something plaguing you?
George: Did you have to use the plague word?
Freud: Sorry. I forgot it’s 2021 and that term is a bit sensitive. So, what’s going on with your subconscious mind that you needed to call me back for another visit?
George: I don’t know if it’s a subconscious problem.
Freud: Well, then just say whatever comes to your head and we’ll go through a process known as the “talking cure.”
George: I’m worried about the remote team meetings I have to lead. They’re not going very well.
Freud: Is it because you hate your father, and when you run the meetings, you feel like you’re acting like him?
George: No! I love my father.
Freud: Well, maybe there’s another reason. Keep talking.
George: My team is very distracted. I can see them looking at their cell phones when they’re supposed to be listening. They simply nod and don’t really interact much. And they seem like they’re anxious to leave.
Freud: What do you think you could do to engage them?
George: I suppose I could set the tone for the meeting, tell them what to expect, and let people know that we’ll go around the virtual room and everyone will have a chance to speak and ask questions. They can discuss any problems.
Freud: That will help. It’s like psychoanalysis, which is all about getting to the root of any problems. Let them talk.
George: And since they work across different time zones, maybe I could schedule meetings at a time that works well for everyone. Two people on my team have to join at 5:30 a.m.
Freud: They should be sleeping. They need to relax and dream. If their dream time is cut short, how can you even expect them to perform? Want to know more about dreams? I love to talk about dreams.
George: Not really. Let me think. Maybe I can reward people for a job well done. Give them a gift card. A bonus. Something to incentivize them.
Freud: How about giving them cigars? At one time in my life, I smoked 20 a day!
George: I guess you haven’t heard about the impact of too much smoking. It’s not great for your health.
Freud: Really? In my day it helped people relax. We’d prescribe cigars to calm people down. I’m glad I’m from a different century. So, what else do you think you can do to make these meetings more effective? How can you help your team members feel at ease if you can’t give them cigars?
George: I can have some friendly banter about things we can all talk about, like what’s on TV and what’s the weather like where they are located.
Freud: That’s sounds good. Think about listening and responding. I don’t know much about TV but I can tell you that psychoanalysis is all about listening.
George: I told you this isn’t about psychoanalysis.
Freud: I guess you weren’t really listening to what I said about listening. Be sure to make everyone feel valued and appreciated – not how my father was to me.
George: Sigmund, I’m sorry you had these problems with your dad, but I’m grateful that you got me thinking. I’ll also make people aware of the vision of what they’re working on. Sometimes I get so focused on working through a milestone that I forget to share the big picture with my team.
Freud: Hmm…I noticed that your session time is up and I’ve got to get back to my century. In the meantime, it’s good to see you and Nikita smiling. As I’ve always said, “Love and work, work and love…that’s all there is.”
George: I appreciate your advice. Now I just need to lead meetings as successfully as Jim, who was a former mentor.
Freud: Here’s my familiar closing thought. Don’t compare yourself to Jim. “The only person you have to compare yourself with is you in the past.”
George: That’s good to know. My past meetings didn’t go so well. But my next ones will be much more effective. Thanks for joining us.
Freud: Goodbye. I’m going home now to where I can smoke a cigar in peace.
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