It’s no longer news that COVID-19 has reshaped the way we work. In many ways, experts have projected that this state of affairs will continue long after the pandemic is gone. Both local and international companies are either going fully remote or hybrid in their mode of work. Automation is now king, and the line between work and personal life is now blurred. But how can managers and founders motivate their teams for great performance in this blurry era?
To answer this question, Daniel Adeyemi, Senior Reporter at TechCabal, spoke with Elizabeth Tweedale, founder and CEO at Cypher Coders, one of the leading coding schools for kids in the UK, on the 6th episode of Building From Ground Up, Season 2, by the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub.
Tweedale is a computer scientist and architect and has worked as a computational design specialist at several top UK architecture firms where she, among many great projects, worked on the beautiful Apple campus. Prior to founding Cypher Coders, she co-founded an AI startup GoSpace in 2014 and currently serves as its Chief Innovation Officer.
In 2016, as a mother of 3 and an advocate of teaching people, especially kids, how to build software solutions, she founded the coding school that would quickly become the UK’s leading coding school for kids. As an edtech startup, Cypher Coders thrived on a brick-and-mortar work culture, where employees show up at their London central office. But when the pandemic hit, the startup was forced to operate remotely. And now that the world is gradually opening back up, it’s maintaining a hybrid approach to work. But how did Tweedale keep the team’s spirit going?
Find the best people and hire them
For Tweedale, finding qualified people that are self-motivated in their own right is the beginning of building a great team that can function well without your supervision. You can’t motivate people who are naturally numb to motivation; watch out for how they align with the vision of your business from the recruitment stage. Do they buy into it or not?
Find the best people for the job and hire them. This thinking directs how Tweedale recruits.
“Our COO used to work in an accelerator as a business coach where she taught over 300 entrepreneurs, of which I was one of them. She was so good that I had to steal her for Cypher,” Tweedale said.
Ask your team what motivates them
Human beings are complex and intelligent, and can be surprisingly clueless at the same time. So, it takes time and patience to fully have a grasp of someone’s personality, but because there is not always liberty of time in a startup, founders or managers must learn to ask their employees or team members what motivates them.
“I ask my team what motivates them. And I can see how effective that one-on-one conversation has helped to boost performance across metrics,” she said.
What motivates people are different and as a manager or founder, it helps to find how your team members are different because that will help you be flexible in the way you manage them without losing your managerial standard and that of the business.
Lack of proper communication is capable of not just leaving employees unmotivated—because they don’t understand what’s to be done anyways. Tweedale said that every necessary communication must be explicitly executed.
“We communicate the value of the business to the new employees and reiterate it to the existing one in clear words. We can’t afford for people to start doing guesswork.”
Tweedale mentioned that companies must clearly state their growth trajectories with new hires—tell their stories from where they are coming from, where they are, and where they are going, and what each employee or team must contribute.
Allow them time off
According to Twedeele, the pandemic has already blurred how we work and employees are struggling with work-life balance. And the best way a company can help them find it is to create room for breaks.
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is one of the oldest sayings that legitimises the importance of taking a break to relax or unwind. Tweedale said her company takes employees on retreats and offsite team bonding, where all employees come together in one city to have fun.
Going on retreats has worked for Tweedale and her team. The team catching up and bonding on something other work is one benefit, the founder or manager using the opportunity to sneak in a motivational speech is another. She advises leaders to find what works for their team.
You can watch the full conversation here: