Motivating ‘remotely’ to drive performance

Motivating ‘remotely’ to drive performance

We have been spending a lot of time over the last few weeks talking to clients and other organisations and there seems to be a shift from ‘Phase 1’ to ‘Phase 2’ thinking. We will cover what this means from a business perspective in another article – for now we are focusing on the people aspect.

Phase 1 was dealing with the challenges of the major changes forced by the Covid-19 situation, ensuring people were able to work from home, understanding and making decisions on furloughing and generally reacting to, and coping with, immediate concerns.

The people focus was on communication, inclusion, care and well-being. Conversations tended to be along the lines of:

  • ‘How are you?’
  • ‘Have you got everything you need?’
  • ‘What can I do to support you?’
  • ‘When would be good for a team Zoom coffee?’

Phase 2 is about moving forwards. It is vital that there is a continual focus on well-being, and leaders are now wanting to ensure that their teams and people are focused on performance and contribution. For the vast majority of organisations these are very tough times indeed and they need everybody pulling in the right direction, taking the initiative and driving outcomes.

Clients are focused upon the need for:

  • Empowering teams
  • Clear communication about immediate and medium-term strategy and business priorities
  • Leaders and managers to clearly communicate desired outcomes and goals to teams
  • Clear performance objectives
  • Regular check-ins and monitoring
  • Debriefs, reviews and feedback

One thing that has come up frequently is the difficulty in motivating teams under the current emotionally distressing circumstances – and with the extra problem of remoteness.

Let’s make one thing clear. A leader cannot ‘motivate’ another person. Motivation is a personal choice, a personal decision. Yet a leader is responsible for doing what they can to understand just what motivates an individual and then create the right motivational environment to make it easy for the individual to choose to be motivated. They can lead the horse to water….

So, the question is, how can you create those motivational environments? Tony Robbins speaks of ‘motivational drivers’, the six invisible forces that humans need and which ‘drive’ people to do the things they do. Usually, when developing Leadership behaviours we focus on this at the micro level – understanding what helps to drive individuals and creating approaches to enable them to ‘get this’ to push performance.

But there are also things that organisations and leaders, can do on a macro level to ensure that most ‘needs’ are met, and everyone is able to ‘get motivated’ of their own accord.


Certainty: (the need for – security / knowing the outcome / routine) 

Yes, right now this is a difficult one, with so many unknowns. Yet can you do more to provide some sense of certainty, some foundations, some control? Can you reinforce your priorities, communicate that you are planning for different scenarios in the short, medium and longer term? What are the clear priorities to focus on, what does the week ahead look like? Telling people what is a possibility helps them put things in perspective.


Significance (the need to feel special, important, to make a name, high profile) 

It is essential to be clear with outcomes and measures to enable people to drive and achieve – and follow through with usual recognition practices. A phone call, text or email to show that you noticed is important. Public thank-yous, supporting individuals with LinkedIn / media articles and posts can all help.


Connection (the need to fit in / relationships / part of a team) 

The amount of Zoom, Skype, Hangouts and MS Teams calls that are happening at all levels is really helping here. Consider creating connection opportunities across wider teams and bringing different groups together – and also ensure that regular one-on-ones are still happening as close connection is often key.


Contribution (the need to give / to help / to be part of something bigger) 

It is essential for organisations and leaders to provide some clarity of the plan, what the business is wanting to achieve, the position it needs to be in by a certain time, the current vision to help their clients / customers – to enable people to understand what and how they can contribute. Feedback, reflection and confirmation of effort and outcomes are hugely important.

We are seeing so many stories of contribution outside of the workplace – helping the elderly, raising money the NHS, supporting loved ones – and this should be encouraged.


Growth (the need to learn / to improve / to develop) 

It is easy to think of Learning and Development as non-essential in the current situation, but teams and individuals always need opportunities to learn, grow and improve. In a recent survey of over 700 firms globally it was heartening to note that 80% of organisations will continue to invest in virtual development, coaching and mentoring (also open to furloughed staff in the UK) and look for opportunities to bring individuals into projects and initiatives.


Change (the need for ‘new’ / flexibility / being unplanned) 

There is no doubt that anyone who needs change and has a thirst for ‘newness’ doesn’t currently need to look very far to find this. There are going to be people who are actually feeling exceptionally driven right now, who have real clarity, who are spotting opportunities – they key is to identify and leverage the ideas and activity from these people. How can you involve them in planning? How can you capture their ideas and utilise their ability to innovate?



Leaders need to focus on performance and driving outcomes to protect business interests in the short term and be in position to take opportunities when we emerge from the current crisis. Ensuring that teams and individuals are able to ‘get’ some form of certainty, significance, connection, contribution, growth and change to align with their personal preferred motivational drivers is important and can have a significant effect on performance and engagement.


theGrogroup are experts in advising organisations on how to improve performance by effectively executing and embedding required change. If you would like to know more about how we can help your teams with connection, focus and motivation right now, please contact us here or email Alex.