8 tips to align and engage distributed teams to maximise focus on key strategic objectives

2020 saw a massive surge in the number of people working from home. And so far, whether we like it or not, 2021 looks like it’s set to continue the trend. Whether you are adjusting to this shift in remote working, or you’ve been faced with managing distributed offices, branches or subsidiaries for some time, the question is, how do you harness the benefits of such agile working whilst ensuring focus, effectiveness and alignment are still prominent? In other words, how do you ensure you get everyone in sync and get the best out of your people when they are all over the place?

There are many team collaboration software systems out there to facilitate team messaging, share tasks lists, manage projects etc, the list of capabilities goes on. These online tools dramatically help to move the physical office environment into the online world, breaking down location barriers and keeping people engaged in their work. Such movement is also leading us to a more agile way of working in which “an organisation empowers its people to work where, when and how they choose - with maximum flexibility and minimising constraints - to optimise their performance and do their best work” as defined by The British Computer Society. Ultimately, it’s more about the output than how many hours an employee is sitting at their desk.

So, how do you ensure your teams are not only working hard but working hard on the right things and effectively aligning together? We’re talking about the difference between efficiency (working hard) and effectiveness (working hard on the right things to produce the desired outcome) as the key to achieving optimum levels of productivity and primarily driving results! Check out our blog entitled How to focus on business, not busyness.

Here are 8 tips to help improve alignment and engage your remote teams, to boost their performance and effectiveness.

1. Set and cascade key business Objectives

As a business leader, it’s hugely important that you have a crystal clear vision, with tightly focused, clearly defined objectives and goals to help you achieve this. These objectives become the strategic priorities for the business and will provide a clear direction of focus for your Senior Leadership Team. This key focus can then be filtered down throughout the business to effectively cascade what’s really important through the ranks. Heads of Department, Managers, Supervisors etc should all create their own objectives and goals corresponding with the overall vision you originally set. Having all of these strategic objectives closely aligned and cascaded effectively provides massive advantages for the workforce. It encourages your people to become aligned in their roles and responsibilities as they see exactly how their work impacts their team performance and contributes to the overall direction of the business. These plans can be created on paper, using spreadsheets or google docs and shared amongst teams. We work with the award-winning 1-3-5® methodology and provide free templates to help you get started which you can download here.

2. Communication is Key

Regular communication is essential to maintain good working relationships and avoid any misunderstandings. This is especially important in a remote working situation. Be flexible on the method of communication - email, phone, zoom, team communication platforms, 1-on-1 and group meetings. As a Manager, be sure to ask for feedback on the cadence of meetings and check-ins but also take an interest in your people, their situations and encourage them to open up about any external issues influencing them in any way. For further guidance on this, check out another of our blogs.

3. Provide the Tech

Provide the technology workers need to help them collaborate to the appropriate level, some may only need an instant messaging platform, whilst others may need an all-singing, all-dancing performance management system. Having a system to log progress against goals and objectives as well as get sight of peers or team performance will align employees as they increase focus on the combined outcome.

4. Set Team Goals

Alongside your personal goals, setting and cascading team goals will really boost collaboration and team alignment. Use gamification and introduce scoreboards to generate some light-hearted competition between teams.

5. Make Collaborative Decisions

Involve employees in some significant business decisions. Like you, these people invest lots of time in the business and may see it from different angles. Doing this will help them feel valued and knowing their opinion counts is sure to boost motivation.

6. Build Trust

Building trust between employees and managers is crucial for engagement and satisfaction. Trust your workers to get the job done. When someone is not performing as required, take the time to find out why? What’s going on in their world? Build trust and honesty with open communication. Agile working is built on trust and allows employees to develop a working cycle that works best for them, creating a healthier work-life balance whilst still focusing on their output.

7. Celebrate Success

Sales staff often have their wins celebrated as they bring in new business, however, it’s important to recognise and celebrate others’ achievements. When someone completes a goal or objective that’s another win to be celebrated so make sure you give recognition where it’s due. This will make employees feel appreciated, motivated and raise their profile as well as reiterate the importance of aligning to the key strategic objectives for the business.

8. Continuous Evaluation

Never let location disturb the regularity of 121’s or communication of any kind. We’ve mentioned the vast amount of communication tools there are out there to avoid this happening. Review workload regularly and assess expectations to make sure they are realistic and avoid burnout. Once roles and responsibilities have been defined, goals and objectives set and cascaded throughout the team, there should be no confusion around what is expected at each level. Goals and objectives should be measurable, facilitating easy performance reviews and regular 121s. Having all of this documented and regularly referred to can also help identify any areas for development or any rising stars within your business.

One of the many positives about remote work is the flexibility it offers employees but this doesn’t mean employee alignment and engagement should suffer. Setting clear goals and objectives that define and cascade the key strategic priorities throughout the business will provide focus and engagement to align remote teams and turbocharge results. Reclaro offers a simple, OKR system based on the award-winning 1-3-5® methodology that allows strategic objectives to be recorded and effectively cascaded throughout the whole business increasing alignment, accountability and visibility of performance. The Team Overview Dashboard loads in 3 seconds and shows live performance data of all teams in the business, all in one single view. If you would like to find out more, please email pete@reclaro.com or book a demo today!

Posted by Zoe Greensit

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