The Distributed Teams Support Series Part VI – Setting Goals

Goal-setting is of crucial importance right now. It will help you and your people to focus during an unsettling time as well as bringing alignment when people are physically displaced. This keeps everyone and your company on track to achieve their aims, regardless of the external situation. But it’s not as simple as your people continuing to reach the goals set before the pandemic began and before it started impacting on your business operations. It’s highly likely some of them have changed, so where do you begin?

The first port of call when it comes to goal-setting at the moment remains taking time to reflect on your current goals. This is followed by refreshing them based on your company’s current situation and then refocusing them. If you are at a stage where this has already been done, apply this process regularly to ensure that whatever you are working on, is still in line with the ever-changing circumstances and whatever should be a top priority, is. With this in mind, be open to goal priorities changing, be flexible in adapting and conscious of these changes when it comes to your delivery as a people leader.

This can be difficult for people. Change is difficult for people. Imagine you have been working on something for months that you have really invested in. Suddenly, your boss tells you to shelve it because they have a different project for you to do. On the one hand, your people are no doubt grateful to have work to go to while many are losing their jobs. However, changing projects without much consultation or choice as the case may be, can be deflating. It’s another certainty in their day-to-day that has now been uprooted.

Whatever way you prioritise these, create a schedule in consultation with your team. This ensures everyone is included in the process and more willing to be an active participant rather than waking up to a bunch of new meeting notifications flooding their calendars without context. Be flexible and adapt the schedule of essential meetings as you go following continuous feedback from your people.

Change and transition can bring up lots of mixed emotions. Allow for them in your people and be ready for them in your response. Show awareness, empathy and leadership in your communication. These qualities are especially required when it comes to discussing aims and objectives with your people which brings us to our first type of goal.

Individual Goals

We always say start with your people. And this is no different. Check-in with them. Find out what is most important to them right now professionally. What are they working towards? Maybe they want to upskill, maybe they want to mentor, maybe they want to do both. There is no reason why these should be valued less because of what is happening or because everyone isn’t in the same office.

By having a conversation about it, not only do you get a clearer understanding of who they are, their experience and where they want to go but how best to align what they want with the wider company goals. This is also the only way you’ll know how best to support them in getting there. If you haven’t already done so, check out Part V of this series. It explores how to get the best out of your 1:1s and other meetings as a people leader of a remote team.

Team Goals

What are your team’s goals? Have they changed? Is everyone clear on their agreed tasks? Ask yourself and them these questions. It’s vital to keep your teams connected. It’s the most efficient way to ensure no one is wasting time on the wrong priorities. It also aids the culture of looking out for one another in case anyone is having a difficult time and needs support.Connectivity breeds collaboration, engagement and productivity as well as bringing clarity, order and community to your teams.

Include your people in the goal-setting process. They should be part of the conversation. The goals are much more likely to be reached if people have been involved in their creation. It incites motivation. Again, lead by example when it comes to being open to changes and having flexibility in your approach. By operating both of the above practices, it makes your people better prepared to meet challenges head-on instead of feeling defenceless when they arrive.

Company Goals

When it comes to your overall company objectives, we would usually be flying the flag of blue-sky thinking. However, in a climate where many businesses and organisations are trying to stay afloat, and people keep their jobs, it’s ok for these goals to be a little less ambitious and more grounded in the present.

That doesn’t mean your company goals don’t still represent the overarching alignment umbrella; they do. But they will likely have to be adapted or refocused for the time being and that is fine. When you step back, all three goal areas, whether in office or in a distributed team, should be aligned. Your people should also be in the know about these goals and how their individual aims and team objectives feed into them. This all works towards reaching your productivity targets and creates a culture of community in your company.

Goal-Setting In The Current Climate

In general, with setting goals during the Covid-19 pandemic, keep your goals short-term. There is no point getting lost in long-term planning until we can see what’s in the distance a little clearer. You are best to plan for what’s in front of you. Operate in the now when it comes to your goals as best you can.

This is not the time for complicating matters, especially not your aims. Keep them simple. By your goals being short term and simple, they are more likely to be achieved, and it’s those short-term wins everyone needs right now. Also, keep things achievable. No one needs to feel like they are climbing professional Everest at the moment. Your people need to feel return, value and worth in their work.

Implementing The Best Process

You need to get your goal-setting systems right. For example, your goal tracking system and your communication processes need to be clear, consistent and easy to use. When it comes to a framework, we use OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), and we would highly recommend them. They support all your people working towards the wider company vision. This keeps people focused, engaged, gives them purpose and helps everyone stay on track. OKRs are great in general but ideal for now as they allow for flexibility with your objectives. You can read more about them in our eBook on effectively using OKRs.

Your people need to be provided with the tools they require to do their work, especially when in a distributed team. The casual ‘drop by’ to someone’s desk or conversations while grabbing a coffee that fills in the communication gaps or acts as a follow up don’t exist. You can’t rely on catching them before they leave the office and you don’t want anyone sitting at their desk, at home, waiting for something in order to progress their working day. They need to be able to access what they require to move processes forward. If they don’t, it risks morale and productivity plummeting.

Your goal-setting also needs to be transparent. This builds trust, creates a culture of accountability and fairness. With our platform, for example, people can set their personal goals, review the department ones, and see the company goals for themselves, in their own time supporting their involvement in the process. It also ensures a fully transparent approach for our clients and their people when it comes to their company’s goal-setting. It’s all there for people to create, engage in and work towards achieving.

Overall, when it comes to goal-setting as part of a distributed team, you need to listen to your people. Remote working is most successful through clarity, collaboration, communication and consistency. The same goes for your goals. Depending on the type of people leader you are and the situation your company is in, you might find you want to push through with a certain decision or feel like you are resetting your goals too often. Strike the balance. Include your people in the process.

It’s vital everyone clearly understands how what they are working on contributes to the bigger picture and the valuable role they play in achieving it. Set short term goals where you can see the return so on the other side of this, you’ll have achieved a lot even though it might feel like very little.

At times like this, we think it’s most important we come together as a community and look after our people.
If there’s anything we at Frankli can do to support you, whether you are an existing customer or not, please
get in touch. We are here to help.