/ goals

Focus on outcomes, not hours spent in the office

There are many blessings in being a remote team, but one that I like particularly is that you can't check over your shoulder to see who's in the office.

Empower people with goals

If you focus on hours, you'll get what you want: people will show up on time, and leave after you. But you're promoting the wrong thing. You're signaling that it's more important to be around than to create something that matters. The primary drive for giving people an expected set of office hours is because you're deriving a certain amount of value from it - if I ask the team to work from 9 to 5, then we will be able to achieve this much.

A better approach is to go the other way around. If you give clear goals and give people the means to achieve them, then it doesn't matter how they organize their agenda as long as they deliver what everyone agreed on. That's especially important if you want to be more inclusive as not everyone can give you a straight 8 hours day.

Another thing that happens is that you will scale your ability to delight your customers. When people are given goals instead of tasks, they care more about the outcome. There may be times when you'll look at the solution and will believe that you had a better idea. But if you give people room to make mistakes, then you give them room to grow. And it won't be long before your team starts moving much faster, while you can focus on other things.

Negative outcomes are valuable too

One rebuttal for focusing on outcomes is that it can be understood as ignoring effort. But a negative result is still a result. Building a product can be seen as an iterative process that consists in being less wrong about what people want over time.

Bad outcomes should be accepted as long as you learn from them. You should always do a post-mortem on projects, and try to understand what went wrong. It can be that the concept was poorly defined, that you didn't have enough resources, that external factors impacted the timeline, and yes, sometimes it will be because someone did a poor job. But more often than not, there will be many reasons why you didn't get the expected results, and it's rarely the fault of a single individual. So learn, fix, and repeat.

Embrace a remote team culture, even if you're in the same office

Remote teams are forced by nature to document things, to communicate more, to be open. But more importantly, remote teams have to build trust and discard micro-management in favor of creating a strong culture where the vision, values, and goals are shared broadly.


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