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With more team members working remotely, individual, team, and departmental goal setting is more important than ever. Focusing on goals can make everyone more productive and successful, providing the goals are measurable and aligned with a company’s overall business objectives. One of the biggest challenges for managers is setting common goals for team members who are working from different geographical locations and possibly different time zones.

Goal Setting for Remote Teams

Video chat, teleconferencing, email, instant messaging, and other advances in technology have made it easier to communicate with team members that work remotely. However, there’s still a significant disadvantage with not being able to meet face-to-face throughout the day. Keeping remote team members engaged and productive may require a change in style, especially for informal managers about assigning tasks and checking status.

Many hands-on managers like to assign tasks based on current demands informally. This management style can leave remote team members feeling disconnected from the big picture. Setting clear, measurable goals that are directly connected to larger organizational goals and providing regular feedback on progress helps remote team members stay focused and motivated when working on their own.

Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Organizational experts have developed several goal-setting techniques over time. One of the most effective is the S.M.A.R.T. Goals strategy, which emphasizes concrete, trackable goals. Introduced in 1981 by George T. Doran, a corporate planner, it is now widely used for setting personal and professional goals.

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that defines the qualities of a practical and productive goal:

  • Specific – The goal should specifically state what needs to be accomplished and why it’s important. It should include details about the goal deadline, who needs to be involved, the resources required, and what known issues or requirements need to be addressed. The wording that describes the goal should leave no room for doubt or confusion.
  • Measurable – The goal should have a metric for measurement that can be used for evaluation. The metric could be a number, such as a dollar amount for a sales goal or a certain amount of work that’s part of a larger deliverable. Unless a goal is measurable, it can be hard to judge when a goal has been completed or how much remains to be done.
  • Achievable – This means the goal must be ‘assignable’ to one or more team members who have the skill to complete it. Defining impossible goals sets team members up for failure, especially those who are working remotely. A goal that’s too easy can be equally demotivating. Management needs to do the research to make sure a goal is challenging but achievable. This doesn’t mean an team member has all the skills and training needs; gaps in those areas need to be recognized and provided.
  • Relevant – A relevant goal is realistic in terms of the organization’s overall goals. Assigning goals that don’t align with larger goals is a waste of team member time. When goals are connected to business objectives, team members have a greater sense of purpose.
  • Timebound – Every goal should have a specific completion date. Depending on the project management tools used, there may also be smaller milestones within the goal that help keep work on track. A deadline provides a target for focus and keeps motivation strong. The date should create a sense of urgency without fostering stress.

Many companies use key performance indicators, or KPIs, to measure performance. They can be used with a S.M.A.R.T. goal setting to measure the outcome of a goal. If a KPI is known when goals are being set, it can be used as a checkpoint during the timeline of the goal.

Checking on Progress Towards Goals

With no opportunity to stop by a remote team member’s desk for informal check-ins, scheduling time for regular updates is vital. In addition to weekly team meetings for goal review, one-on-ones with each remote team member every other week or once a month is extremely helpful.

Besides discussing the status of current deliverables, managers should be open to discussing professional goals and personal news. Relaxed, non-work discussions are a good way to get to know remote team members and convey some of the company cultures they may be missing out on. Understanding the organization’s mission and vision can increase motivation while making more of a personal connection can ease some of the isolation that comes with working remotely.

Check out our features today to learn how coAmplifi can create stronger teams, help achieve your organization’s S.M.A.R.T goals, and so much more!

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