Goal setting is an incredibly important practice, whether you’re an individual, are involved with a start-up, work as part of an in-office team, or are employed by a large global organisation.

Without a clear goal to strive for, work can have less meaning and no real direction. For without goals, there is no purpose. And without a purpose, there is often reduced commitment, engagement and productivity from staff who are left asking: "What’s the point?"

Setting goals is arguably most important for teams that find themselves working remotely and spread across the globe. While a study by Great Place to Work found that most employees at Fortune 500 companies maintained or increased their productivity while working from home, remote teams can be much more vulnerable to feeling disengaged and disconnected. 

Goal setting can help combat such lethargy. According to a BI Research study, employees who have set goals to work towards are “14.2 times more likely to be inspired at work” and “3.6 times more likely to be committed to their organization.” Goals that are challenging (but attainable) not only help to engage and support global teams, but they can provide all kinds of other associated benefits. For example, goals can:

  1. Unify your team, no matter where they are in the world
  2. Establish expectations and metrics for success
  3. Create stellar opportunities for employee recognition
  4. Reinforce your company mission and values
  5. Foster a company culture based on transparency and open communication

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

1. Unify your team, no matter where they are.

When a team is spread across the world, you need to find ways of bringing them together and making them feel like one unified community. Goal setting is one powerful way you can accomplish just that. For when employees have common goals to work towards, they’re united in a common sense of purpose and motivated to work together to realise it.

Goal setting isn’t only a powerful tool that can bring global teams together, it’s also associated with better professional outcomes. A Harvard Business Review survey (How Employee Alignment Boosts The Bottom Line) found that employee alignment with company-wide positions, visions, and goals is key to operational and business success. Indeed, 100% of participants in the same survey reported that their highest-performing employees had a formal link between their individual goals and the company’s corporate goals.

“Employees don’t know what to prioritize,” suggests the survey, “and they are unclear about how their individual work makes a big difference to the vision of the organisation. Once organisations align individuals to long-term goals, they’ll experience heightened retention and better execution.”

In essence, setting common company-wide goals is essential because they give employees the opportunity to set individual goals that align with them.

2. Set expectations and metrics for success.

Many people set goals in order to put benchmarks for success in place. This enables employers and employees to track progress while working towards achieving those goals.

The case is no different for remote teams. Measurable goals can be used as the basis for general expectations and as metrics for success. They also help avoid confusion in terms of what employees should be working towards in a broader sense.

When specific goals are established for global teams, it’s also easier for new hires to get started with their work on the right foot. It can be overwhelming to start at a new company, and it can be difficult to get acquainted with the company culture when you’re part of a distributed global team. But when goals are explicitly stated, it’s easier for new employees to align themselves with those goals and to feel more comfortable in their new working environment.

Goals are also helpful when the time comes for performance reviews, where they can help management determine evaluation criteria as well as reduce bias. It’s only natural that company leaders develop unconscious bias towards the employees they work with more closely when dealing with a large global team. Goal setting can help keep that bias in check and ensure objectivity with all employees.

3. Create opportunities for recognition.

When you set company-wide goals that all employees should be striving towards, you’re creating an ideal opportunity for employee recognition. Employee recognition doesn’t only make people feel good, but it’s also a great way to promote engagement and a feeling of connection within a global team.

The numbers speak for themselves. According to Cooleaf, nearly 64% of employees believe that employee recognition is even more important when working remotely. Furthermore, employees that receive regular recognition from their employers are up to 8x more engaged when compared with those who don’t.

Having established goals is a great way to recognize employees for their achievements when they’re spread around the world. You can single out individuals or even teams for contributing to a specific company-wide objective. This is easy to do with dedicated people management software like Lattice, which can help a business accelerate growth by connecting individual achievement to organisational success.

4. Reinforce your mission and values.

Setting company-wide goals is a great way to reinforce your company’s mission and values and make sure they stay present in all your employees’ minds. The mission and values should be the guiding light for everything that you do. However, there is a danger that they can get forgotten or lost in the mix when you’re managing a global team.

As we’ve mentioned, it’s also key to build a global team where personal values and objectives align with those of the larger business. So, be sure to spend time establishing your company mission and values early on. This ensures that the team you end up building will be authentically aware and fully engaged with them.

As Cristian Grossmann, CEO and Co-Founder of Beekeeper suggests: when an employee’s values align with those of their employer, they’ll feel more fulfilled and be more motivated beyond just ‘doing their job.’ They’ll also be better workers overall: more productive, more autonomous, and better at solving problems.

Brandon Peele
of Unity Lab describes this phenomenon in more detail: “Most company mission and value statements are half-built bridges. To complete the bridge, each employee's purpose and values needs to be activated at work. Once they are inspired by and enrolled in the larger meaning of their life and career, they can start to take on larger forms of meaning and build the bridge to their organization's mission.”

Ultimately, goal setting helps global teams reinforce a company’s mission and value statements and gives employees the opportunity to align themselves with what’s most important to their employer, giving them greater purpose and making them better at their job.

5. Foster a company culture based on transparency and open communication.

When working as part of a global team, individuals can’t rely on the casual in-person chats and informal communication methods that are commonplace in office environments. With this in  mind, global team members need to be proactive about communicating transparently rather than expecting interactions to "just happen."

One of the best ways to do this is to foster a company culture that’s based on transparency and open communication, so those same values are modelled to employees on an ongoing basis.

After all, maintaining a strong company culture is harder with global teams, but it’s not impossible. It’s up to the company’s leadership to set the tone for their company’s culture. Openly discussing goals and objectives is one way to do exactly that, so everyone can prioritise them together.

Bring your global team together with goal setting.

Prioritising goal setting is essential if you want to create and nurture a highly engaged global team. Goal setting unifies distributed teams that are spread all around the world, establishes expectations and metrics for success, creates opportunities for employee recognition, reinforces the company mission and values, and fosters a transparent, communicative company culture.

If you want help bringing your global team together with goal setting, why not set up a demo of Lattice’s goal setting tools? Lattice gives you a speedy and frictionless way of setting, tracking, and reflecting on your company goals. With multiple integrations across Slack, Salesforce, Microsoft Teams and more, managers and business leaders can easily track goal status, guiding progress with performance updates and staff check-ins.

Lattice is designed to activate every employee on your team, while helping them stay motivated and make an impact. Join the more than 3,250 users that are already trusting Lattice with their people management needs. Find out more about Lattice Goals.

Or, if you’re looking for more help with using OKRs, SMART goals, and other models to build more productive and engaged teams, download our free resource: UK HR's Complete Guide to Goal Setting.