ONA Weekly #321: How To Keep Your Team Motivated Long-term

By on August 12, 2020

How to keep your team motivated long-term

We’re writing this newsletter from several months spent connecting from a distance, managing home responsibilities and navigating uncertainty. We asked some of our ONA Community Circles hosts: How do you keep your team motivated long-term and avoid burnout? Here’s their advice.

Doug Mitchell, Founder and Leader, Next Generation Radio: “Everyone needs someone else to talk with who isn’t the boss. I find it vital to keeping people engaged and moving. … The work is important, but to have a fully-functioning team that consistently produces and STAYS, leaders need to be thinking of the things that keep people coming back to work, besides the work.”

Brittany Hite, Newsroom Project Manager, Los Angeles Times: “Encouraging people to take time off (and modeling that behavior by doing so yourself) is really important. Even though many of us may not have anywhere to go or much to do in the vein of a ‘normal times’ vacation, being able to unplug for a few days and reset is key to maintaining your mental health and motivation.”

Lu Ortiz, Executive Director, Vita-Activa.Org: “If you see something, say something. People’s mental health is challenged by the pandemic, work-life balance, racial conflicts and gender inequality. If you see a member of your team struggling, with mood swings or uncharacteristically unmotivated, ask them how they are doing.”

David Cohn, JoinSubtext.com: “A saying I’ve long-had as a manager is ‘Don’t be a hero.’ Pre-COVID, this is what I’d tell folks on my team when it came to being sick, for example: “Don’t be a hero” — just be sick and come back when you’re 100%. In our current situation, it still applies. It’s also good as a manager to set expectations and time-horizons. Pre-COVID this meant setting quarterly goals, etc. Right now, it’s okay if you need to set more time-boxed goals, like ‘Let’s just make this week the best we can.'”
Resource: We come back to this ONA19 session on self-care for journalists again and again. Listen to the recording for thoughtful tips on unplugging and managing stress from Chaseedaw Giles, Melissa Daniels and Elana Newman. 

Inspiration for immersive experimentation

The 2020 Journalism 360 Challenge is a chance to experiment with immersive storytelling and advance best practices in the field. Past projects have paired audio features with VR experiencesengaged smart home technology and designed low-cost volumetric scanning toolkits. Winners of this year’s challenge will receive a share of $100,000. Apply by Aug. 20.

ONA20 registration launches Aug. 19

We’ve got exciting plans in the works for ONA20 Everywhere—starting with registration, which opens Aug. 19. We’ll offer a highly discounted rate on conference passes to ONA members as a special thanks for supporting our work and mission year-round. This perk will be available to the first 500 attendees or through Aug. 25, whichever comes first. 

Pro Tip: Set yourself a reminder to check this newsletter next week for all the details on conference passes for members, non-members, groups and students.

Upcoming events

Career opportunities

ONA’s Career Center is an excellent resource for jobs, fellowships and internships in digital journalism. Recent postings include:

On our radar