So you’re running a team. Maybe it’s a large team? Or perhaps small? Either way, you’re video production company’s success depends on how you motivate your team. This article will cover team motivation, whether that be for employees, freelancers, or any other kind of team motivation situation.
There are a lot of tips here that may be useful to you no matter what size your team is. Maybe it can even prod you to the right direction and step up when things seem to be going awry, when you don’t quite have control of a situation, or, worse, if mutiny seems to be on its way!
1. Set clear expectations and roles
It’s always good to start with the end goal in mind. As the leader of your company, you’re the one responsible for making sure everyone knows what they are supposed to do and when.
You’d think that if you have been working with the same team for a long time, this job should seem easy, right?
Well, that’s not always the case. Let’s look at some of the ways team motivation becomes difficult if the team have been working together for a while:
- they might be too comfortable,
- there may be a tendency to slack off,
- or keep getting distracted due to things be “okay with the boss.”
It definitely can help to start on the right foot. No matter how familiar you are with everyone, and especially if you have someone new in the team, make sure that everyone knows what they are supposed to… and what the expectations are for them.
You don’t have be to a dictator about this, but ensure that your authority is respected and that you are clear on setting our goals for your team. Everyone should know what their specific task is.
One bad apple can ruin the entire crew, right? So, let’s make sure everyone knows:
- what their tasks are (very early on),
- get their complete agreement on it, and
- let them be totally accountable for what they are supposed to do.
2. Communicate clearly
On a shoot, yeah, we need quiet on set when the director calls, “Action!” But that doesn’t mean that you should keep your mouth shut the entire time you are shooting.
Communication, as we’ve discussed elsewhere, is so important to your success. You have to be able to:
- openly communicate with everyone to make sure that they’re in the right place at the right time,
- that they know what they’re supposed to be doing,
- and that this is part of the work that they have to do regularly.
If you’re directing on set yourself, this is obviously of paramount importance. Team motivation is vital here, as your crew won’t respect you if you don’t communicate clearly and concisely.
And it’s not just the director. Everyone must communicate clearly. If the Director of Photography would like to have the lights moved a little bit to the left, or higher, he has to make sure that the lighting people understand what he is looking for.
Or, if the actors are feeling hungry, make sure their voice is heard and the crew stops when they finish up the shot they’re working on.
Otherwise you’ll end up with grumpy, underfed people on-screen, and that’s unlikely to be what you’re trying to capture. In most cases. 😉
So, speak up and also listen up as well!
A good team is only effective when everyone is able to fairly contribute to it. Team motivation is about communicate clearly, but also letting other people get heard when they need to.
3. Get to know your team members
Not everyone knows each other, and you may not every team member really well. This is especially true if you outsource a lot of work to freelancers.
Some may have worked with others in the past, while others are still new to the game and your company.
How do you go about it? Many people work well when they feel comfortable and safe. Some people may take some warming up, and others are able to make their presence known easily.
With good planning before a shoot, try to reach out to your people, and maybe even call for a pre-shoot team meeting together.
Obviously, this depends largely on the kind of projects you do, the team’s location to each other, etc. If you’re all working together in an office, this is easy to do. If you’re employing a disparate group of freelancers, this is naturally harder.
This will also work as a good ice breaker for the newbies, for those not-so-familiar with working with you, and even a re-introduction for those more experienced team members.
Setting the right mood for conversation and respect towards each other early on can definitely go a long way. Teams who are able to work collaboratively early on will have better output, as they all feel like they were directly involved in the filmmaking process.
A little casual get together may be just the thing. Some ideas:
- maybe a casual outdoor BBQ, or
- coffee while planning out the flow of the project,
- or even a couple of drinks at the local watering hole.
Having casual interactions with the team members before, during and after projects will only fuel creativity and team moral.
But ensure that respect is always there for you as leader and boss. You don’t want to be the cringeworthy boss who is constantly getting drunk out of his mind at team gatherings. Don’t be that boss who needs to get driven home and tucked into bed by the production runner!
Want to see an example of great leadership is action. Here’s awesome chef and business-person Gordon Ramsay motivating a chef who’s down:
Sometimes a quick game of cards, or even just shooting some hoops on a break, can help ease up the invisible wall that was initially there. That invisible wall does not have to be a permanent one.
It may definitely set a good baseline mood for the entire set, and to allow everyone to be able to communicate with each other with a lot less reservation.
And it is true, a shoot can and does get stressful. So relieve some of that stress and tension by allowing your team members to chill and soicalize from time to time. And do it with them.
Be a good leader, whilst showing that you’re a team player, and that everyone else should be one, too.
4. Celebrate milestones
Everyone loves a celebration, right? During a video project, though, especially if it’s a long one, the hours may end up and create issues.
People may start to lose focus, quality may not be up to par, because well, they’re tired. And yes, this can definitely happen on projects, especially on lengthy ones when the end goal seems so far away! Like, when you’re on a night shoot at a lake in winter and all you can think about is the deadline for the project looming!
“Whew, that’s a bit far off, isn’t it? I’m sure if we chillout now, we can definitely still stay on track and make up for it later on’.
Heard that before? That’s some dangerous thinking, right there! That sounds like we can completely go off tangent here, lose our focus, and well, eventually cram. But, we started so well!
Keep everyone focused by ensuring that you take the project one milestone at a time. These are small steps that you take from start to the finish. Little goals along the way towards the end point.
Setting milestones will feel like mini-accomplishments when you are able to finish them as scheduled. And they are! They show that, “yes, we are still well on schedule, we are still doing our work with a lot of focus, and we have gone through so-and-so milestone, and just a few left!”
Ensure that you celebrate these milestones! These mini goals.
Mini celebrations usually are called for, especially when you have overcome a large hurdle in your project. Take the time to celebrate, and kick your shoes back off a little. But don’t lose them, because tomorrow you gotta put them back on and get back into your game!
Remember, little wins are wins. Achieving milestones are little wins, because they are your assurance that you are getting closer and closer to your final deliverable, and that’s what everyone wants, right?
5. Lead by example — the key to team motivation
Now, all these 4 steps wouldn’t mean a thing if you’re not leading by example.
Set a good example by participating actively and living the rules and company lifestyle that you’ve laid out.
It wouldn’t make sense if you had set tasks for everyone, they all follow your rules, and then you are the one who ends up showing up late every day, with a hangover, not ready to work. That’s just going to be a downer for the team, and you’ve just set a bad example. Terrible team motivation.
Make sure you continue:
- to give direction to your team,
- lead back those whose minds are starting to wander,
- keep everyone actively motivated and involved, and
- definitely stay focused with your own work.
Primarily, you are the one who has set the mood for the entire project. This is also part of you, your work is to be the production team’s leader, or project manager.
You have built mutual trust and respect for each other, so continue to promote the idea that you and your team are co-accountable for the success of this project. It goes without saying that as you poured your heart into it, the outcome is part of you as well.