This shirt was a gift from a good friend who asked me to officiate his wedding. Now, being a professional speaker, I get asked often to officiate people’s weddings. 99.9999% of the time I say no. But with this particular friend whose name is Spud like the potato, I said yes. And I had told him a story of how on 15 minutes before I got married. One of my mentors and now friends Jeff walked up to me and he put his hand on my shoulder and he said, “Are you present? Because you don’t want to miss your own wedding.” It’s like such a powerful question.
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In this video… And the reason I’m sharing this with you, you’re watching this because you’re wondering “How do I motivate my virtual team?” You might be experiencing Zoom fatigue, work from home fatigue. You might be just kind of burnt out from screen time. Whatever it is that you’re up against. Whatever it is that’s demotivating to your virtual teams. In my work with some of the most high performing organizations and universities on the planet, I’ve noticed a couple strategies and characteristics that people tend to implement over and over again that increases motivation in their virtual teams. Having worked with a bunch of all remote teams, even pre-covid, working with all remote teams you get to learn the nuances of what it’s like to operate over a long period of time when you’re not actually walking in the office with people. In this video, I’m going to share those three strategies. I cannot wait for you to come along the journey. Let’s roll.
The 3 strategies that I’m going to share all fall under this idea that Matt Church talks about this idea that state matters more than script. When we’re meeting in person but also when, Especially when we’re meeting virtually. The 3 strategies that i’m going to share today are going to help your group shift their state. Because if you try to motivate or be motivational to somebody, it usually backfires, right? If somebody’s feeling like low and depressed, what they don’t need is somebody getting up in their face saying, “You can do it”, right? Yeah. That’s the last thing that person may want to hear in that moment. These are 3 techniques and strategies that will help the person shift their own state because when you try to change people, usually there’s resistance and pushback. They are they fall under these 3 categories. Silence, shift, and show up.
Number 1, silence is one of the great… I would edit this quote. Great lost arts of conversation. And so, if you want to motivate your team, oftentimes, you think about “What can I say… What can I do to motivate them. I would change that question to “When can I give my group time to take silence and reflect?” Because that helps answer this question quite a bit. It’s really hard to be motivated if you’re thinking about the pile of work that’s stressing you out. The fight you got in with your kid right before you hopped on your next virtual meeting. Whatever that context is. If you want to motivate your virtual team, you’ve got to invite them to be present and get present in the beginning. My co-founder and co-author Will Wise we wrote this book ask powerful questions together. And I… When we have our heads screwed on, right? Every single meeting that we have internally, we start with 60 seconds of pure silence. We turn off our video and I would recommend you do this. Invite everybody to go into podcast mode and turn off their video so they’re not worried about what they look like or what other people look like or are doing. And take 60 seconds and start your meeting with nothing. Start your meeting with 60 seconds of silence. It has a profound effect in re-energizing people and shifting people’s state in just a minute, right? It’s a little bit odd. As a leader, it takes a little bit of a risk to do that depending on the culture of your team. But to say, “Hey, we’re going to do something differently. We’re all teleporting in from different worlds. And so, today, I just want to start off our meeting by doing absolutely nothing for 60 seconds. So, resist the urge to pick up the black box that lives in your pocket. Resist the urge to switch tabs and check your email. Just be present and let your mind wander for 60 seconds.
Do absolutely nothing. Sit on your hands if you have to and just be really present here.” If you do that, the chances that you’re gonna be able to motivate your team with anything you say or do after that go up significantly.
Number 2, this strategy it falls under the word of shift. When the group’s video is off after they’ve taken that silence, I will often invite them to check in with their own state of mind, their own state of being, their energy level, whatever that is. And make a physical shift that will help them change that state of mind to where they want to be. Another way that I actually help create this shift is say… Okay, check in with yourself. What state are you currently in? You might be exhausted, it might be burnt out, might be low morale. Whatever that is… Check-in with whatever state you’re in and then in Zoom, change your last name to the state that you would like to be in at the end of this call. That has a really powerful intention, right? When I become Chad Curious instead of Chad Littlefield. Or when I become Chad Peaceful instead of Chad Littlefield, when I’m operating, when I’m connecting with people in Zoom; they’re seeing that state, I’m seeing that state. I’ve publicly put out that intention. And the reason that is so useful is there’s a whole bunch of research that says that we literally run faster… They do studies where they just follow joggers running around a town or city. And people run faster when they run by other people. If you’re running in a neighborhood and you’re doing like a 9-minute mile, when you get downtown, you’ll like pick it up to a 7 or 8-minute mile, right? It’s a really interesting phenomena. It’s that social accountability the fact that we all have a desire to be admired and a desire to be liked. And so, when you push the state of mind that you want to be in as your name, there’s some social accountability just implicitly there that says, “This is who i’m going to actually work to be on this call.” And do you see how that motivation comes internally rather than externally? Because if you have… If leader is motivating people by saying motivational things, that is very easy to bounce off. If you ask people to state, what state they want to be in; they’re setting that intention and that motivation is coming internally.
The third strategy is to now invite people to show up. If you’ve taken some silence and you’ve invited them to shift their state in some way, now is the time to say, “Alright, it’s time to turn video on and be really present.” And the pro tip here is show up but then immediately find the option and Zoom or whatever platform you’re meeting on to hide self-view. Humans were not designed to be in conversation with each other while they’re talking to other people. That is one of the biggest contributions in my mind to Zoom burnout or Zoom fatigue, is the fact that we spend a significant amount of our cognitive energy talking to somebody else while looking at ourself talk to somebody else. It’s so distracting. It takes up so much cognitive load. In Zoom, you can just hover over your own face and gallery view and click hide self view and then you can be really present with the people you’re with. That will decrease exhaustion, decrease the unmotivation, the lack of drive to engage, and increase people’s willingness to be really present, and engage in whatever you’re talking about. I had a teacher who always used to say “You’ve got to show up to grow up.” I love that phrase because it’s true, right? And it’s hard to motivate somebody if they’re not even there, they’re not even present. Now, I will say that these 3 strategies that I’ve shared is really talking about the start to a meeting. There are lots of things to motivation beyond just the way that you start in a synchronous meeting.
Dan Pink’s book called Drive talks about 3 pillars of motivation. Talks about mastery, autonomy, and purpose. So, if you want to deep dive into motivation, that’s a really lovely read. You can probably digest some other things from Dan’s website or the Google. So, feel free to check that out but drive. It’s on the top of my list of books worth reading. I hope that all 3 of these strategies help you start smart. Because once a group is solidly rooted in an unmotivated, demotivated place, it takes a lot more effort to get them motivated than if you start really deliberately intentionally and invite people to be present each moment, right? Motivation is not like a one-time thing or choice. Motivation is something we choose every morning we wake up. Like, “Do we put on the running shoes and go on a run or do we flip on Netflix and start a day? Or work from home day with three episodes of…” Fill in the blank, right? And oftentimes, when we choose that easier path. Unmotivation has a negative cyclical effect, right?
When we do something that’s un demotivating, it demotivates us. And then we do something that’s demotivating and it demotivates us and it spirals. One of the most valuable assets that a virtual team can provide to each other is just honest check-ins with each other. When you’re actually meeting synchronously to say, “How are you doing? No. Really, how are you doing, really?” There’s such a difference in asking that question with sincerity and actually wanting to listen to someone. You know once you say something, half the power leaves it immediately. And so, when somebody says like, “I’m honestly not doing super good. I’m watching a lot of Netflix and procrastinating on a whole bunch of things I should be doing.” Saying that takes the power out of it and creates that social accountability. And people say, “Okay. Well, I’ve admitted this.” Like, it’s time for me to get off my butt. Oftentimes, that intrinsic motivation shows up when we acknowledge our own lack of motivation in the moment.
This was a lovely time hanging out in cyberspace with you. If this was interesting and you want to dive deeper and more… We’ve created a whole bunch of tools that we give out for free and a free digital version of our connection toolkit, the card that I held up earlier –“Silence is one of the great arts of conversation” comes from a deck of We! Engaged Cards. If you want to get a bunch of more motivating quotes, you can actually get the deck shipped to your house in the link below or you can get a free version of a lot of the quotes to share as virtual backgrounds or digitally with your group in the url below weand.me/free. Download that free toolkit, soak in lots of good stuff.