You don’t need an article to tell you that setting team goals is important. However, a framework to set goals that sounds great in theory can end up being inefficient in practice, especially in 2022, when the pandemic has changed the way we work. So as you kick off the new year, you’ll want to set your team up for goal-setting success.
“In 2022, goal setting with your team is more important than ever. When it comes to hybrid and remote work, failing to set clear goals and expectations will inevitably lead to a loss of productivity,” says Scott Winstead, founder of MyElearningWorld and remote work and online learning expert. “Working from home brings all sorts of distractions, not to mention disconnection from team members and company mission if you fail to effectively connect.”
Here are a few expert tips and guiding principles to help you empower your team to set work goals successfully this year.
1. Open communication is key
“And an all too common theme I’ve found in team goal-setting is an aversion to discussions. The problem? The fear of not knowing how to openly communicate. Often, team members hold themselves back from voicing their opinions in meetings because they feel too vulnerable to do so,” explains Rahul Bhargava, a partner at PurpleCrest Management Consulting who has advised hundreds of HR clients and leaders.
“This lack of psychological safety is counterproductive, and leaders should take care of building a work environment that fosters interpersonal risk-taking.”
Focus on opening the communication lines and creating a safe, inclusive space before even approaching the topic of setting goals, and you’ll end up being more productive in the long run. “This kind of team culture motivates employees, encourages innovation, and helps take new ideas to implementation levels,” adds Bhargava.
2. Use a project management tool like Hive
3. Avoid proximity bias
In 2022, it’s super important to be aware of and avoid proximity bias when equipping your team with the right tools to set goals, according to Winstead.
“Unfortunately, workers who come to the office are often seen as more serious about their job than remote workers. It’s often not purposeful–it’s natural for managers to feel as if the employees they see in the office day-to-day are working hard.”
The problem is, the lack of face-to-face interactions with remote employees can easily leave them out of mind and lead your team to miss out on precious goal-setting contributions. Combat this effect by training managers, suggests Winstead:
“Employers should provide training for their managers on proximity bias. By making managers aware of bias, and giving them tools to combat it, companies can help reduce inequity in the hybrid workplace.”
4. Co-create the hybrid work model
If you’ll be solidifying your hybrid work model in 2022, it’s also crucial to involve your team in and make it a group decision-making process.
“After consulting a number of organizations, there’s no one-size-fits-all hybrid work model for every organization – ultimately, it needs to fit your organization’s culture and people,” says Bhargava, who recommends avoiding top-down decisions and asking your teammates for input.
“Consider which types of structures for work and goal-setting are best for your people. Many hybrid work structures combine a remote-first approach with occasional office days or an office-first approach with employees working remotely on set days.”
If you ignore this step, you’ll create frustration and resentment that can quickly undermine culture and morale. On the other hand, co-creating your hybrid work model can help your team set impactful goals and crush them this year.
5. Don’t track time – track milestones
When it comes to any goal, measuring your progress matters. And when you measure your team’s productivity in 2022, Bhargava says that you should avoid tracking time and focus on milestones instead.
“The challenge of remote work is appearing productive and present to the management team. Most employees don’t work the entire eight hours they’re in the office, as they’re often engaging in spontaneous meetings or interaction with colleagues,” he says.
“Leaders should disregard time as a measure of productivity and trust their employees to do their job to the best of their ability. When goals are being achieved but employees feel distant because they have to collaboratively work less or they have to ‘appear busy,’ then the goals are too easy and should be reevaluated.”
6. Adopt asynchronous work
He also adds that it’s time to adopt asynchronous work, which can have a big positive impact on the way your team sets goals and achieves them. Asynchronous workflows don’t require all team members to be available simultaneously. It has many benefits, including fewer meetings, more deep work, and more efficient decision-making. To achieve this, asynchronous work needs to be incorporated more into our daily routines, says Bhargava:
“Adopt a facilitator’s mindset to find new ways of working and incorporate them into goal-setting. Focus on understanding how human relationships work and designing the work to best suit these habits and needs.”
“Also, it’s important to keep the social aspect in mind for all meetings by asking check-in and check-out questions. It’s essential to have off-topic conversations and connect as individuals rather than always having an official deliberate agenda.”