Remotely coaching creative people for high performance

In our last article ‘Tips and tricks to a successful home office,’ we’ve been looking at what individual creative professionals can do to raise their performance during the Covid-19 lock-down. We strongly suggest you share this article with your team members.

In this second article, let’s look at how you, as a manager, can guide and coach your team members. Being a CMO is tough. You are continually asked to deliver more and more events, materials, blog posts, videos, and, of course, leads. But marketing is a creative endeavor, where quality is just as important as quantity. So, how can you maximize the quantity as well as the quality of your team members’ work?

Prerequisite: You can only help those who want to grow!

While cruel, it’s of paramount importance. None of the following steps will work unless the marketer wants to improve. So check with them! Do they admit that they could do their job better? Amazing! Applaud them for admitting it, extend a helping hand, and move to the next steps.

If they don’t agree because they believe to be perfect, or throw the blame on others, you have an issue. Try to convince them. Use examples if needed, or the ‘carrot or stick motivation.’ But don’t overdo it. Sucking up to individual members of your team sets a bad precedent. Don’t be scared to show a little strength when setting a positive pattern. In an extreme case, letting people go may even be the best solution for everyone.

πŸ™‹β€β™€οΈ Step 1: Start with yourself!

As a manager, it’s your job to define and organize tasks for your team members. When you break it down, any task can fall into one of the following groups:

  1. Unnecessary work – unattractive, low value-add tasks, such as preparing a daily report for sales, that no-one reads. As a manager, you need to either turn them into value-add tasks or enable your team to ignore them.
  2. Distractive work – attractive tasks with minimal benefits, such as formatting an internal spreadsheet into ‘nicer colors.’ As a manager, you have to a) make sure you don’t create these and b) coach your team-members on self-awareness and procrastination.
  3. Necessary work – duties that are unattractive, but bring high value β€” post-campaign analyses or promptly setting leads into CRM database. As a manager, try to balance out these tasks and praise those, who dutifully complete them.
  4. Purposeful work – attractive duties with the highest benefit to the team β€” a graphic designing an ad, or a copywriter polishing a text. This is their flow state. As a manager, you need to maximize the number of purposeful tasks your team has.

πŸ§˜β€β™‚οΈ Step 2: Help your team members reach a state of “flow.”

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who coined the term in 1975, described the state of flow as:”…the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.

In plain English, it’s working on tasks that:

  1. they enjoy and can entirely focus on
  2. are essential to the success of the company
  3. they have the skill set required to complete

How do you put this into practice? How do you find out if they are in flow? Ask them.

  • Do you enjoy (to a certain level) the work you’re doing?
  • Are you able to focus on it, working from home?
  • Is anything distracting you?
  • Do you understand why this work is important?
  • Do you know how to complete the work?
  • Do you have everything you need to complete the work?
  • … and finally: How can I help?

Just asking these simple questions will give you all the guidance you need to make the necessary adjustments. Remember that it’s not your job to change, just to coach. If team members start relying on you too much, revert to Step 1.

πŸ˜› Step 3: Be human

Managing people is many times harder remotely than doing it face-to-face. You’re missing 70% of information (that’s how much information is conveyed non-verbally in a discussion). You see the person a lot less overall. Thinks easily get lost in translation, or lost altogether.

Remember that everyone in your team is human (for articles on coaching robots, please search elsewhere :)). Humans have lives outside of work as well. Many times, these other lives can interfere with work.

Being a good manager also means understanding these other lives and helping your team members resolve things you can help with. So, what you can do is:

  1. Set-up a regular 1-1 call with each team member, with video.
  2. Make sure you portray a positive atmosphere (smile, ‘be a friend’ ).
  3. Ask them personal questions: – How are you doing at home? – How is your dog handling you being home all day? ? – Is there anything I can help with?
  4. Make sure they know your (virtual) door is always open.

πŸ“ˆ Step 4: Track

Throughout the entire process, track whether and how productivity is affected. At one point, you will reach a point of diminishing return, when the person is working at their absolute peak performance and trying to increase further will have an adverse effect (their performance will start to decrease due to too much stress).

To summarize, we believe that people inherently want to do an excellent job in an environment where they feel empowered and motivated. Your job as a manager is to start them on this journey, empower them to make changes, bulldoze any obstacles out of the way, and praise them for positive changes. As a senior leader, you also need to be aware of limits and slow them down to prevent a burn-out or loss of motivation in the long-run.

We believe that the software tools you and your team use should help you work according to these principles. That’s why Oppido lets your tag tasks, connect every task to a specific goal, or promote the sharing of information in one central location (so people don’t feel left out). To learn more about this topic, or try Oppido, send us a message.

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