How a Modern Leadership Platform can keep your distributed team aligned towards your goals
Is your company embracing a decentralized office? Distributed teams are growing in popularity with companies like Zapier, GitLab, and Aha! going 100% remote. Companies are able to save money on real estate, and can dramatically increase their talent pool by searching outside of the bounds of their geographic area, while employees are able to have more flexibility and (much) shorter commutes. The ability to work remotely isn’t just a minor perk, but a top-line benefit on more and more job postings.
This increase in remote work isn’t without its challenges, however. While operational issues are easier to plan for, others are less apparent, though just as important–like ensuring your remote employees are aligned to your company mission, values, and goals. If alignment in traditional organizations is “the fundamental challenge,” then alignment of remote teams is twice as challenging. So what can teams do to get employees all over the world aligned with their high-level goals?
Communication is Key
Inner-office communication is an ever-evolving ecosystem of productivity and collaboration tools. Especially with remote employees, these tools are more important than ever to share knowledge and share key information, but it can be difficult to find the signal through the noise.
Tools like Slack, Zoom, or MSTeams are great and have enhanced the quality of remote employees’ daily lives, all with a focus on making it easier for teams to collaborate. But with the increase in communication and collaboration, it’s important to consider what they’re collaborating on. While these tools can be a great way to connect, the highest level work isn’t going to be done in a Slack channel, and Zoom calls tend to be more individual meeting focused as opposed to a place for general knowledge sharing. From Gallup:
“Remote employees don't have the benefit of hallway conversations. They miss the buzz that fills in the gaps in information. As a result, your intention and effort are required to keep them aware. When remote employees are knowledgeable, they are more likely to feel stable and secure, which is integral to achieving their best performance every day.”
So while the virtual watercooler can help remote employees feel less out of the loop, it’s much more difficult to ensure that the institutional knowledge–information that is known but not documented–is shared with those employees.
Companies and teams are designed to achieve goals. Collaboration around goals means ensuring that alignment and transparency aren’t just buzzwords, but are committed values that help all employees have the information they need to make data-informed decisions. Clear documentation of goals and of the strategies being taken to achieve them is sacrosanct.
Provide the “Why?”
One of the reasons that teams fail in their initial roll outs for OKRs and other goal-setting methodologies is that they rely on existing tools to drive their process. While this seems to make sense–keep information where your employees already are–it can have the opposite of its intended effect: information gets lost among the other noise in those platforms or channels. Slack’s too noisy, and there’s a very small likelihood that anyone goes back and rewatches video call recordings. A dedicated space to talk through goals is a necessity.
Documentation of process only solves some of the issues, however. Without proper documentation of the broader factors for determining goals, the full context on why the goal was set, there’s nothing a remote employee can look at to feel like they understand the direction of the company. Without an easy way of communicating the mission or vision of a company and how that relates to your goals, employees are left without motivation to participate.
And while it’s important to ensure that remote employees understand why a goal was set, it’s equally as important to make sure they understand why they should care, specifically. Employees respond most positively to goals that show how their work fits into the broader effort towards a top-level goal. Remote employees especially benefit from seeing how their everyday efforts are integral to the success of the goal, their team, and the company.
So what can we do?
Keeping remote employees engaged isn’t an easy feat by any means. But too often, remote employees are divorced from the broader work and how that work fits into the bigger picture. It can be difficult, especially if you don’t get to siphon off hallway knowledge, to feel comfortable in your place within the company or to really feel like you’re working with purpose.
So what can we do for our remote employees? How do we stem the rising tide of disengagement and bring remote teams to the forefront like we can do with in-office teams? It starts with three things:
Don’t rely solely on communication tools to talk through high-level work. Make sure to communicate your goals clearly and in the appropriate places.
Give the broader context of how the work fits together. Make sure your employees understand your logic for the goals that you set.
Let your employees see what their role in the goals is. Teams work better when they know what their purpose is.
At Koan, we make it easy for teams to do all of those. Sign up for free or schedule a demo with us today to see how we can help your teams be more aligned and help you hit your goals.