With the rise of COVID-19, a high percentage of the workforce in America became remote workers overnight. For leaders whose teams normally share an office, this can present a host of new challenges


When your teams began working remotely because of the COVID-19 outbreak, some people may have thought, “How hard can it be?” Remote work is just like working in an office, right? Some people may have even been excited about not having to pack a lunch or be stuck in traffic, but they may not have considered the implications of a semi-reliable internet connection or the psychological impact of spending so much time at home.

As it turns out, going remote isn’t just trading a highway commute for a hallway one. It requires new skills and a shift in mindset. For the leader of a remote team, assessing the needs of the isolated worker and learning what motivates them are critical steps in helping them succeed.

Personal motivations are often perceived as too fickle to understand, especially in professional settings. Employees know what they are naturally good at and will gravitate towards those areas.

The things we choose to do when no one tells us to are the things we do best and are driven by our passions and motivators.

We also have a strong sense of pride in our work. A workplace that harnesses the motivation of each individual allows them to tackle the tasks that inspire them. Often, employees that are excited about their achievements will talk about them outside of work.

Once you find out what your own motivations are, you can start applying it to others as well.

Five steps to better understand your team’s motivations

  1. Understand your motivation. Consider biases you may hold and what motivates you personally. Incentives? Autonomy? Impact on your organization? Working with others? Piece together your own motivation beliefs to help you build your self-awareness.
  2. What can be improved? Ask your team what they would like to get better at this month.This helps you gain a better understanding of where they would like to up their game from their perspective.
  3. What has improved? Ask your team what they’re doing better at this month compared to last month. This helps your team see how they’ve been developing, especially in areas they may not have been aware of.
  4. What went well? Understand what your staff’s best moments were in the last month. This helps you understand what motivates your team members and what typically energizes them.
  5. What didn’t go well? Discover moments that could have gone better in the last month. This helps you identify tasks that are draining their energy and motivation.

We all approach the things we do day in and day out from different, unique perspectives. Our motivations are the driving force behind our behaviors and the reasons for the decisions we make. Next time you do something, stop for a moment and ask yourself why you are driven to do that particular task. Becoming aware of what motivates you and drives you into action will also help you better understand your isolated team members.