Shared goals are vital for long-term cohesion in remote teams. It is important to establish goals everyone can take ownership of, and to ensure every team member understands both how to work with the rest of the team, and how their work fits into the bigger picture.
Communication, clear expectations and a motivated team spirit are all crucial components of a team that can work together to shared goals.
These 5 tips will help you align your team to a shared goal:
1. Stay in Contact
Your team needs to stay in touch to keep everyone pulling in the same direction. Create group chats for collaborative tasks and projects to enable task-focused discussion between team members. Dedicated team apps like Slack can further enhance your group messaging with tasks and checklists that keep the team updated on everyone’s progress.
This makes it easier for your team to collaborate and organise themselves by creating and assigning new sub-tasks and checklists for each other. Using these tools means that everyone can tell at a glance where their help is needed most. So, it makes sense to also integrate your project management apps with Slack to make your collaboration even more effective.
Keeping in contact is about more than just better organisation however. Workplace banter and camaraderie are important for team morale, motivation and long-term productivity. As a result, remote teams can benefit greatly from off-topic discussion channels to provide that social interaction. In addition to group messaging channels, group VoIP calls can also enable casual conversation while you work, just make sure it doesn’t become a distraction. Many remote teams are now arranging virtual happy hours to catch up and have fun outside of work.
For more urgent messages, texting is ideal for ensuring team members get your message immediately. Besides its rapid open rate, SMS reaches your team even when they are offline, making it the best way to send an emergency message that needs a response straight away.
This can be very useful in fast-moving situations, for example if your website is attacked and you need all hands on deck to deal with it. Texting outside of work hours can encroach on your team’s privacy however, and should be avoided for non-urgent communication.
2. Show Team Members the Big Picture
Working towards a greater goal is one of the strongest sources of motivation. It is easy for members of a remote team to focus the daily tasks while losing sight of the bigger picture, which can lead to boredom and a loss of motivation. According to a Mercer study, highly motivated employees are three times as likely to say their work has a clear purpose.
Conversely, when employees can see how their work moves the team closer to the next milestone, those daily tasks feel more meaningful and engaging. Tracking progress and explaining how each task relates to your current project is vital to ensure everyone feels like they are working towards a greater goal.
Being able to anticipate and celebrate milestones gives a much stronger sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Furthermore, when the team’s work is clearly structured into projects, there is a stronger motivation to collaborate and work together, as helping each other out with tasks leads to a win for the whole team.
3. Enable Group Decisions
Just as a vision of the bigger picture can give remote teams extra motivation, more involvement in deciding group goals and methods lets team members feel a stronger sense of ownership over the team’s direction and results. Employees who feel like their opinion matters are almost 5 times as likely to feel empowered to perform at their best.
Accordingly, it is important to make sure everyone gets their say when making decisions as a team. In teams distributed across several time zones or shift patterns, digital tools such as polls and surveys can be a useful way to gather the team’s thoughts or feedback, enabling employees to share their ideas and questions and add them to the next meeting’s agenda.
Avoid making important decisions when not all team members are online as this can leave some employees feeling cut out of the decision-making process. Effective team communication can reduce conflict and staff turnover by up to 50%. If you need to make an urgent decision unexpectedly, texting can be a useful way to get everyone online to give their input.
4. Set Clear Expectations
Setting clear expectations helps keep team members on-task, and makes collaboration easier. This is a vital part of developing an effective remote work policy. Sticking to contact availability times and deadlines means employees know how and when they can get support from their colleagues, and don’t have to wait for a response or task to be completed.
Furthermore, clear expectations let your remote team focus on the goal instead of worrying about unclear procedures. When there are simple rules for how, when and where work is submitted, and everyone follows them, there is no need for remote workers to waste time checking if the files they need are ready yet or where to find them. This sounds obvious, but only half of all workers say they have a good idea of what is expected from them.
In short, clear expectations mean everyone stays on the same page. They enable more streamlined and efficient teams, with less room for error.
5. Don’t Expect the Impossible
Clear expectations are necessary. Unreasonable expectations can ruin productivity. While many people perform at their best under a little pressure, too much can lead to a range of issues including rushed work, more mistakes and employee disengagement.
Employee stress costs US businesses $300 billion annually in lost productivity. When faced with unachievable targets it can be much harder for team members to push themselves, knowing that even their best still won’t be good enough. This can cause employees to feel undervalued, or set up to fail.
Furthermore, an unmanageable workload doesn’t give team members enough space to see the bigger picture. When there is no time or energy to think about anything but the current task, your team is no longer working towards any shared goals. Employees may even actively avoid supporting each other’s work or collaborating, unwilling to fall further behind on their individual targets.
Keeping your remote team focused on a shared goal means creating a sense of team accomplishment that rewards collaboration. Showing the importance of individual contributions to larger projects is critical to keeping your team motivated to push forward and reach the next milestone as a group.