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Remote how-to’s | Blog Post

Clear Goals, Clear Accountability: Measuring Success for Remote Teams

Linzi Nield

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For companies that are new to hiring remote employees, one question often rises above all others, “How will we start measuring success for remote teams and understand their productivity?” Lack of visibility in the day-to-day efforts of remote team members can invoke uncertainty in management. How do you measure remote employee productivity if you can’t see them visibly working? But data tells us they may be worried about the wrong thing. In fact, it shows that remote employees often work longer hours, taking fewer breaks.

However, that does not address the question of measuring team performance. By setting clear goals and KPIs for your remote employees – and holding people accountable for these – a culture of trust can be built in which everyone can thrive.

Let’s look at a few systems that will help set transparent expectations for your team.

Start by Gathering Input 

As you begin the process of goal-setting, be sure not to do it in a silo which can be counter-productive. Remote team employees may already feel a visibility and trust gap that can widen if they’re not brought into the planning process.

Along with regular sprint planning, meet with your team for a quarterly goal-planning exercise and ask what projects they believe would drive the most impact. Explain the purpose behind measuring team productivity and that it isn’t a matter of trust.

Create effective goals

Four tips from team performance company Pathlight 

Pathlight, a Terminal customer and source-of-truth platform for managing day-to-day team performance, shared some of their best-recommended approaches:

  1. Set goals and Key Performance Indicators at both the organization and individual level: Each team member should understand the broader company priorities and how their individual and team Objectives and Key Results directly advance those company priorities. As a manager, it’s your job to help them see how their contributions relate to the broader strategic goals. 
  1. Set achievable milestones: It’s helpful to break big projects into smaller milestones. Support and encourage team members when they hit those milestones so they feel like they are making progress. At Pathlight, they are called mini-goals. Pathlight software helps track performance against those mini-goals, alerting both frontline managers and their leaders when the goal is close to being achieved or about to be missed. 
  1. Communicate goals frequently: Come up with something simple and easy to remember to communicate your goals. At Pathlight, for one quarter, the goals structure was HAMS: Hiring, Announcement, Make Money, Ship. It helps to start each team meeting with a quick recap of your quarterly priorities so everyone knows how they contribute to those top priorities.
  1. Measure progress: There are plenty of tools for measuring team performance, such as Lattice or 15 Five. But what’s critical is to embrace platforms that not only help you set your OKRs but also measure the KPIs that help you achieve your OKRs. Whether it’s “X commits a day” or “X% of releases that are bug-free,” codify these KPIs, and track and measure team performance in real-time. 

Drive Accountability to Measure Success for Remote Teams 

You can set goals all day – but unless you’ve built mechanisms to help the team get work done and be accountable for those goals, it’s possible some team members may fall short. 

Keep in mind a few of these methods to keep team members accountable and ensure your efforts in measuring success for remote teams pays off. 

Create focus time: Communication can be a time drain for remote teams – be sure that managers are giving team members time to get work done. At Pathlight, they set aside two three-hour focus blocks a week. During this time the team turns off Slack, email, and other distractions. Before it begins, each person shares what they plan to work on, helping everyone stay accountable and building cross-team trust.

Report on progress: Build mechanisms where team members report on the progress of their goals each week, whether that’s an asynchronous update in a document or a round-robin during the weekly team meeting. Explore collectively how this effectively measures team performance or what can be improved.

Use 1:1s effectively: Instead of going over status updates, which could be done offline, use your 1-on-1s to coach, develop your rapport, resolve problems or blocks to their work and help them advance professionally. Encourage your direct reports to create an agenda for their 1-on-1s so they take charge of their own performance.

Ready for more tips on building and managing remote teams in our Remote Teams Playbook? Download it here

About Pathlight: Pathlight is a command center to manage, measure, coach and lead teams like a pro. Learn more

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