Your Guide To Setting Expectations And Goals With Your Remote employees

By Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder
Published: Mar 23, 2024
Managing remote teams effectively is crucial in today's work environment. To ensure success, it's essential to set clear expectations and goals for remote employees. This guide provides a straightforward approach to achieving this.
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Managing remote teams effectively is crucial in today’s work environment. To ensure success, it’s essential to set clear expectations and goals for remote employees. This guide provides a straightforward approach to achieving this.

Increases Accountability and Ownership

When you tell remote employees exactly what you expect from them, they’re more likely to take charge of their work. Knowing what needs to be done and by when helps them plan their work better without needing a boss to always tell them what to do.

This sense of responsibility boosts productivity. Employees have a clear idea of their tasks, so they can focus and use their time wisely. It’s up to them to make sure they succeed.

Minimizes Misunderstandings

With teams spread out, talking clearly can be tough. Having clear rules and using the same methods to share information helps avoid confusion.

Things like written guidelines, regular check-ins, a central place for information, and knowing who does what make everything smoother. Employees get how their work fits into the bigger picture, helping everyone stay on the same page.

Aligns Individual and Company Goals

It’s good for everyone when employee tasks match up with what the company wants to achieve. Employees feel their work matters more when they see how it connects to the company’s plans.

Also, when everyone is working towards the same goals, it’s easier to work together across different areas. This helps the company reach its targets better and grow.

In short, clear expectations give remote teams a common direction. Knowing what they’re working towards helps remote employees help the company move forward.

Step 1: Choosing Communication Platforms for Remote employees

Picking the right tools for talking and working together is super important when your team works from different places. Apps like Slack, Zoom, and Trello help everyone stay on the same page and know what they need to do.

Establish Core Platforms

First off, decide on the main tools you’ll use. Some common ones include:

  • Slack for chatting and quick updates
  • Zoom for video meetings
  • Trello for keeping track of projects and what everyone’s working on

Try to stick to just a few tools at first to avoid confusion. Choose the ones that fit how your team works best. For example, teams that need to talk a lot might go for Slack, while those with lots of projects might prefer Trello. Pick tools that make sense for your team.

Set Company-Wide Usage Policies

After picking your tools, make rules on how to use them. This might include:

  • Using Slack for fast questions and team chats
  • Having Zoom meetings for big discussions or brainstorming
  • Updating Trello with what you’re working on every day

Having clear rules helps everyone know what to use and when, which keeps things smooth as your team grows.

Highlight Key Features

Don’t just pick tools and leave it at that. Show your team how to use them. You could do a quick training session to go over the important bits.

For Slack, you might talk about how to use channels or custom emoji. For Trello, you could show how to set up boards and use automation.

Getting everyone comfortable with these tools right away means they’ll be more useful for keeping everyone in the loop and making sure work gets done.

Picking and using the right tools in smart ways is key for managing teams that work from different places. It helps set clear expectations and builds trust within your team. Spend time choosing and setting up tools that help your team work better together.

Step 2: Defining Clear Roles and Responsibilities for Your Remote employees

When you’re working with a team from different places, it’s really important everyone knows exactly what their job is. Leaders should take the time to write out job descriptions that spell out what each person is supposed to do.

Create Detailed Job Descriptions

Write down the main tasks, the skills needed, and what success looks like for each job. Include:

  • Main responsibilities and duties – What the employee should do every day, week, and month
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs) – Ways to measure if they’re doing a good job, like hitting sales goals
  • Required technical abilities – Specific skills needed, like coding or writing
  • Soft skills and traits – Being good at talking to people, managing time, and working on their own

This helps everyone understand what’s expected of them.

Set Out Task Lists and Milestones

Break down big goals into smaller tasks with deadlines. This helps remote workers know exactly what they need to focus on. You can use:

  • Prioritized to-do lists – Tasks that need to be done, sorted by importance
  • Project plans – Steps and deadlines for big projects
  • Sprint schedules – Short periods when specific tasks need to be finished

Managers and their team members should work together to make these plans.

Establish Regular Check-ins

Have meetings with your team members regularly to talk about how things are going. These can be every week or every other week. Talk about:

  • Goal progress – How close they are to meeting their goals
  • Workload – If they have too much or too little to do
  • Challenges – Any problems they’re facing
  • New opportunities – Ideas for new tasks they can take on

These meetings help managers support their team and make sure everyone is on track.

Setting up clear job roles and regular meetings makes it easier for everyone to know what they should be doing and helps them work better on their own.

Step 3: Establishing SMART Goals for Remote employees

When we talk about setting goals for remote teams, it’s all about making sure these goals are clear, trackable, and doable. Goals give everyone a clear direction and let managers see how things are going. The SMART framework is a great way to make sure your goals check all these boxes:

What Are SMART Goals?

SMART is a set of guidelines that helps make sure goals are well-planned:

  • Specific – Make it clear what you want to achieve.
  • Measurable – You should be able to see how you’re doing with numbers.
  • Achievable – The goal should be something you can actually reach.
  • Relevant – It should matter to the bigger picture of what the company wants.
  • Time-bound – There should be a deadline.
Set Goals Collaboratively

It’s important to work with your team to make goals. This way, they feel like they’re part of the process. Think about:

  • What each person can do
  • What tools or help they might need
  • What the company is trying to do overall

This makes sure goals are realistic and helps the company grow.

Connect Goals to Company Objectives

Make sure the goals for individuals or teams match up with what the company wants to achieve overall. This helps employees see how their work makes a difference. For example, goals might be about:

  • Increasing sales
  • Keeping more customers
  • Making products better
Use Quantifiable Metrics

It’s better to have goals with numbers so you can really see progress. Instead of saying “Do great work”, say something like:

  • “Get 15% more people to sign up this quarter”
  • “Have customers rate us above 90% happy”
  • “Cut down on unanswered support questions by half”

Numbers give teams a clear target and show the real effect of their work.

Set Realistic Timelines

Make sure the deadlines are doable, considering how big the goal is and how much work it will take. You can break big goals into smaller steps with their own deadlines, like:

  • Launching something new by the end of Q2
  • Getting 10 new customers every month
  • Reaching 500 new email signups by the end of the year

Having deadlines helps teams manage their own time and see how small steps add up to big achievements.

Setting goals this way keeps remote teams focused and moving in the same direction. Clear, well-thought-out goals give everyone a sense of purpose, even when they’re not in the same place.

Step 4: Tracking Goals and Progress of Your Remote employees

It’s really important to keep an eye on how your remote team is doing with their work. Using tools that help manage projects is a great way to stay clear on what’s happening.

Tools like Asana and Basecamp are super helpful for:

  • Breaking down big goals into smaller steps
  • Giving tasks to team members
  • Setting deadlines for important parts of the project
  • Marking tasks as done
  • Talking about work that’s still going on

Seeing everything laid out helps everyone understand what’s left to do and how close they are to finishing their goals.

Set Up Dashboards

Most of these tools have dashboards that show you a quick view of all the work. You can see things like:

  • How much of the work is done
  • Tasks that are running late
  • Who is working on what

Checking these dashboards can help you see any problems early and fix them.

Automate Progress Updates

You can make these tools send out updates automatically, which saves time. These updates can go to you or everyone on the team.

You can set them to show things like:

  • New tasks that have been given out
  • Goals that are almost reached
  • Tasks that are overdue
  • Team members who might need extra help

Getting updates like this makes it easy to keep track of everything and solve problems quickly.

Hold Regular Reviews

Even with all the updates and dashboards, it’s still good to talk about how things are going regularly. You could have a quick meeting every week or two to go over:

  • Goals that are on track or falling behind
  • Any new problems or things that might go wrong
  • Suggestions for making things better

These talks give bosses more insight and let the team share their thoughts on how to make work easier.

Keeping a close watch on how goals are going helps make sure remote teams are working well and not wasting time on the wrong things. Choosing tools that let everyone see what’s happening and allowing bosses to help out early when there are problems is key. Regular check-ins also help find any issues and think of ways to work better. With the right approach, bosses can lead remote teams to success.

Step 5: Scheduling Regular Check-ins

It’s super important to have one-on-one meetings with your remote team members regularly. These chats help you catch any problems early, understand how your team feels, and make sure everyone’s still on track with their goals.

Benefits of Consistent Check-ins

Having these regular meetings helps in a bunch of ways:

  • Build rapport and trust – Talking one-on-one helps you get to know your team members better. This makes it easier for everyone to be open and honest.
  • Gain insights – Your team can tell you how they’re really feeling about their work, any challenges they’re facing, and any ideas they have. This info is gold for making things run smoother.
  • Spot problems early – Keeping in touch often means you can spot any issues before they get big. This way, you can help out or make changes fast.
  • Recalibrate goals – Things change, and sometimes goals need to change too. These meetings are a good time to check if goals still make sense and adjust if needed.
Implementing Effective Check-ins

Here’s how to make these check-ins really work:

  • Set a consistent cadence – Try to have these chats every 1-2 weeks. Making them regular shows they’re important. Timing them with work cycles can help too.
  • Use video calls – Seeing each other makes the conversation feel more personal and helps you connect better.
  • Ask probing questions – Ask about how goals are going, how much work they have, any problems, and any suggestions. Make sure there’s time for them to ask you things too.
  • Set action items – Finish up by agreeing on what to do next. Write these actions down and check on them later.
  • Share highlights – Let the rest of the team know about good stuff that came up. This keeps everyone in the loop and feeling good. Just be careful not to share anything private without okaying it first.

By planning these check-ins well and doing them regularly, you can help keep your team working well together, no matter where they are. It’s a great way to make sure everyone is happy, productive, and moving in the right direction.

Step 6: Encouraging Open Communication

Keeping communication easy and open is super important for teams that work from different places. When people aren’t together, it’s easy for misunderstandings to pop up if we’re not careful with how we talk to each other. Leaders should make sure everyone feels okay being open, and that they understand it’s okay to be flexible and aware of each other’s cultures.

Promote Transparent Conversations

Let everyone know it’s okay to share their thoughts and ideas without worry. Listen well and ask questions to really get where they’re coming from. Point out when you agree on something and, if there’s a disagreement, try to find a middle ground together.

Make it a point that giving and getting feedback is a good thing. Cheer on those who speak their mind, but also guide the chat to stay helpful and on track.

Lead with Empathy

Remember, something you think is no big deal might upset someone else. If you mess up, say sorry and learn from it. Try to see things from the other person’s perspective, with kindness and understanding.

Also, working alone can make people feel lonely. Make an effort to ask how your team is doing and help them connect with each other.

Accommodate Different Communication Styles

Some folks are straight to the point, while others might beat around the bush a bit. This can come from their cultural background.

Talk about how you all like to communicate to avoid getting the wrong idea, but don’t expect everyone to change overnight. Be patient and work with what you’ve got. For important stuff, use a few different ways to talk to make sure everyone’s on the same page.

Turn Challenges into Opportunities

Mistakes in communication will happen, but they’re chances to get better and understand each other more. Talk about what went wrong without pointing fingers, and come up with ways to do better next time together.

Praise the bravery it takes to point out when something’s not right. Every time you work through these issues, your team gets stronger and more in sync.

With more people working remotely, being good at open, caring, and flexible communication is a must-have skill for leaders. A little effort in making sure everyone feels heard and understood can stop bigger problems before they start.

Conclusion: Properly Setting Expectations is an Ongoing Process

Setting clear expectations and goals is super important for the success of teams working remotely, but remember, this isn’t a one-time thing. As your business and your remote team change and grow, what you expect from your team and what they aim for might need to change too. Something that made sense at the start might not fit anymore later on.

Here’s how to keep everyone on the same page as time goes on:

Check-In Regularly on Goals and Priorities
  • Chat one-on-one every 1-2 weeks to talk about how things are going, any problems, and if needs have changed
  • Look over goals every three months to make sure they still match up with what the company wants
  • Be ready to change goals if what the business needs changes
Gather Regular Feedback
  • Send out a survey every month that people can answer without giving their names to get ideas and see how everyone’s feeling
  • Make it clear that it’s good to talk openly about what’s working and what isn’t
  • Listen to what people say and use it to make things better and adjust expectations
Update Guidelines as Needed
  • Every now and then, go back and check if the team’s rules, how you do things, the tools you use, and any guides need updating
  • Ask the team what they think needs to be clearer or could change
  • Let everyone know about any changes and make sure they get how it affects their work
Address Issues Proactively
  • If there’s a problem, deal with it quickly—don’t wait until it gets worse
  • Talk about any challenges openly as a team to figure out solutions
  • Make a point to celebrate when things get better or someone does something great to keep everyone feeling motivated

By always coming back to what you expect, what’s most important, and how you do things, you give remote teams clear direction while also showing you care about what they need. This builds trust and keeps everyone involved over time.

Stay flexible, talk a lot, tackle problems early—this way of thinking will help you keep teams that work in different places working well together and ready for success.

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Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder

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