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Quick hit: Here are four steps to creating goals that connect and align your remote team:

  1. Be simple, specific, and leave room for adjustments.
  2. Align objectives, then let the team own KRs.
  3. Support goals with incentives.
  4. Measure, debrief, iterate.

When you find yourself in a unique place and time–say, facing a rapid shift to remote work in the face of a pandemic– how do you make sure your people stay aligned, inspired, and connected? And how can managers and teams best support each other?

If you and your organization’s leaders are asking these same questions, you’re not alone. We’ve been there too. In fact, the story that follows is autobiographical. We’ll look at the goals one of our sales managers  set with their newly remote employees during COVID lockdowns, and the clear, simple steps they took to find success.


Start simple, be specific, and leave room for imperfection

When our sales manager was faced with an immediate transition to remote work for their team, they started by creating two new department goals:

  • Build the muscle to successfully work remote
  • Stay connected and productive while working remote

When there’s a crisis, it might be tempting to start goal setting for the sake of goal setting.  Don’t. Your goals still have to be meaningful and focused on the right things. For our team, that meant staying aligned and connected while also admitting that this wasn’t business as usual. Goals aren’t an exact science– especially during times of uncertainty or crisis. You’ve got to leave room to adjust. Our sales team manager recognized that remote work was a new skill, requiring new habits, new ways of creating culture, and new measurements of success. So, their team goals were specifically designed to build the muscle of remote teamwork, to get good at it, and to acknowledge that their people were human–things didn’t have to be perfect to be a success. 

Each goal was recorded in WorkTango’s Goals & Feedback solution, so remote team members could see– at any time: night or day– how their team goals aligned with the organization’s OKRs. They could track real-time goal progress and ask for feedback instantly.   Their team leader created measurable key results  for them, including, “Entire team works remotely week of 3/16” and “All SDRs complete calls during week of 3/16.” That level of specificity gave them a clear target.


Align goals, then let your team own the KRs

At the heart of the new, remote team goals was this key result: “Entire sales team and supporting departments adopt this goal and document their own personal key results for this goal by EOD 3/16.”

This element of personal adoption and ownership was critical for the project’s success. Given the permission to adapt the broader goal to their personal working styles and work-from-home situations — plus permission to be imperfect in this shared trial period — the  team jumped in.

They populated the Goals & Feedback portion of the WorkTango platform with personalized goals, such as “Adapt and Excel in the Time of Coronavirus” and “Keep My Foot on the Gas,” with key results that covered:

  • Productivity: “Make X outbound dials this week”
  • Team-building and company culture: “Have 3 5-minute face-to-face, real-time (i.e. Zoom, not Slack) conversations with coworkers each day”
  • Professional development: “Read 1 article or chapter of business development book daily”

Staying mentally and physically healthy.


Key insight: Focus on what you can control

One WorkTango Account Executive completed 100% of their key results for the first week of remote work by giving them energy, keeping them measurable, and focusing on things they could control.

 The rep pointed out that while you can’t control how many people pick up the phone or are willing to have a conversation, you can control how many outbound calls you make. They set a goal of  150 outbound calls — while working from home, with a toddler — and did it.  The lesson here? Figure out what’s in your control, then consistently take steps toward success.


Support goals with Incentives

In addition to creating shared department goals, our sales manager partnered with the People & Culture team to populate our Recognition & Rewards solution with custom Incentives to encourage the team’s success. This enabled remote team members to earn points (which they could later redeem for rewards) by working towards the goal’s completion.

Incentives were created specifically for the first week of full-remote work. The sales manager knew even routine things would be extra challenging, so they incentivized (and therefore gamified) all sorts of workday tasks. It helped lighten the mood and create a little extra motivation to see things through.  Our sales manager then doubled down on the department’s chances at success by making “redeem at least one Incentive related to this goal” one of the key results in the goal itself — neatly creating an incentivizing closed loop.

(Spoiler: Their team knocked the goal out of the park.)


Measure, debrief, and recalibrate remote team goals based on key learnings

Sales  team members tracked their remote team goals closely in our Goals & Feedback solution. At the end of the week, they synced up for a video conference debrief to share key learnings: What worked, what didn’t, and where they saw potential for future success. 

(If you’re curious, they concluded: Remote learning was working great, the team needed clear expectations around what was mandatory vs. optional, and there were surprising insights about what was active in the market.)

It was quickly realized how  important it was to close the loop.  If you never recap, debrief, or invite input (the employee voice), you miss the opportunity  to iterate and make things better. When you take time to e figure out what worked and what didn’t, you communicate that you take your goals– and your people– seriously. Adjust based on their feedback. Then get back out there and do it again.


Planting the seeds for success

Remember, especially if your team is going remote for the first time ever: You’re forging a new and wild path. Focus on what matters, align your remote team’s goals, support discrete key results  with Incentives, and plant seeds for future success.

During debriefs,  emphasize gratitude and togetherness, as well as the idea of “planting the seeds.”  When something is new and challenging, it’s not realistic to focus on winning immediately. Take it one step at a time. Build skills. Plant the seeds of future wins.

At WorkTango, we’re revolutionizing how the world’s most forward-thinking companies engage and inspire their people. We offer the only Employee Experience Platform that enables meaningful recognition and rewards, offers actionable insights through employee surveys, and supports alignment through goal setting and feedback.

WorkTango is built for the workplace we all want to be a part of – where priorities become clear, achievements are celebrated, and employees have a voice. So if you’re ready to make work lives better, schedule a demo today.

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