Aligning goals is an essential part of an employee engagement strategy, and as we saw in our last post, engaged workers add measurable value to your company.
Studies have shown:
- Employees who are engaged work harder and are more committed to the company
- Companies that have more employee engagement indicators have two and a half times more revenue than their lower-scoring competitors
- Disengaged employees are costing the US $450-550 million a year because of low productivity and turnover costs
While it can be argued that the rewards for an engaged and aligned remote workforce are too much effort, the costs of managing a team that isn’t engaged or doesn’t know about company goals are too great to disregard.
How do you align remote workers’ goals with company objectives?
When you want your virtual office to perform well, the first thing you have to consider is the tools your workers will need. Creating digital spaces, standards and clear business processes can help your employees understand how the business works and align their own goals with your standards.
It’s imperative that you have an employee portal, web page or online group that can become your office away from headquarters, where your workers can deliver tasks, collaborate and even discuss personal matters that engage their co-workers and build relationships.
Keeping it digital—and real
Keep in mind that employee collaboration software and web portals are simply tools. Although powerful virtual workspaces can make your business processes more streamlined and organize your remote teams’ work and relationships, it’s up to the users and the manager to make the software work for them. The digital collaboration solution is not the main driver for success—but it certainly helps it along. Here are some of the things that a digital workspace can do for you and your virtual office:
- Increase internal communications
Much of the time, miscommunication is the barrier that hinders virtual offices from reaching their goals. A collaboration software solution can help workers communicate better through the appropriate channels and with the right tools.
- Capture important data and information about employee tasks
The only concrete metric you have to help you understand and manage your remote workers is the data you get from the software. With this data, you’ll be able to identify important behaviors and habits. Login times can determine attendance, and task completion records can help you determine both when employees work best, and identify the best time to call for meetings and/or calls.
- Deliver important messages on the company vision and goals
Digital collaboration solutions give you ways to tell your employees if their tasks and work contribute to overarching company goals. You can provide your employees with instant insight and a set of their own metrics to show them how their tasks and output are helping the company in terms of productivity.
- Cascade the right tasks, messages and goals to your teams
Software can give you ways to deliver company goals through a series of tasks and objectives that your workers can see. Being able to connect their jobs to company goals is one of the first things an engaged employee must have.
A digital solution for online collaboration and virtual office work is, again, just a tool. To be able to completely leverage your remote workers, you have to do a lot of digital ‘legwork.’ This means that the journey to goal alignment is not easy—but it’s very doable and rewarding. Here’s how:
- Set SMART objectives
Your goals or objectives should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely (SMART). Make sure you delegate who is responsible for what, that employees are given enough time to finish projects, and that goals are easy to measure (use numbers and values).
- Train workers to use your digital solution
You can’t expect your employees to use your web portal or collaboration software if you don’t train them or provide incentives. Most of the time, workers will only use it to accomplish tasks, but if you ‘gamify’ some parts of the software you can more easily promote its use for building relationships.
- Automate your performance management system
Automating this part of the collaboration software helps you set better goals, helps your employees complete tasks and helps you gain powerful insight into how your workforce performs. Cascade your goals and tasks through a structured system that returns real-time management data that can be used to motivate your employees and provide recognition.
- Coach your employees
Supervision can become especially difficult if you manage a team of remote workers. It’s important to equip employees with knowledge, skills, and attitudes through coaching and mentoring so that they can perform even without your supervision. Mentoring also develops good professional relationships that can add to the commitment your workers feel towards you and the company.
- Be transparent
Your collaborative software helps you collect and show real-time data on employee performance. Share this data with your team along with company news, market trends and other relevant information. Knowledge sharing is a great way to show your workers that you trust them and want them to be part of the company, despite the long distance.
- Use gamification or incentives to create the company culture you want
Positive rewards for performing tasks and exhibiting the behavior you want in your company can further motivate your employees, make them more productive and even encourage workers to actively search for ways to cut costs for you and the company. Your digital software solutions can incorporate gamification and other incentives for performing a certain set of tasks.
- Communicate regularly
It’s important that you’re in constant communication with your employees—especially if they’re working remotely. Not only does it help you avoid mishaps, it also helps you build stronger relationships and align goals through continuous dialogue. Discuss progress and objectives positively, but be honest and forthright when it comes to mistakes. Always focus your discussions around company goals and how to commit to reaching these.
- Operate above task level
While teaching your employees how to use your web portal and software is important, don’t make their jobs all about technical compliance. Instead, focus on the most important aspects of the job, while providing incentives for participating in rewards systems.
In the end, it depends on a combination of the effectiveness of your communication skills and the tools that you can leverage for motivating your remote team. Aligning goals can be a lofty and difficult task at times—but making these goals SMART, communicating regularly and developing relationships despite the distance can increase employee engagement and ultimately drive business performance.