We’ll let you in on a secret – your teams can do more than code and send emails.
From customer service reps to data analysts, you’ve hired a team of top talent to help propel your business forward. But in order to do that successfully, they need to know what direction to go. What can they do within their individual roles to help reach your company goals?
Visions and values help give purpose to those lines of code and emails. It tells your teams how they impact the wider business.
That’s why it’s more important than ever, as a leader, to communicate what matters to your employees. Whether that’s business goals, personal expectations, or codes of conduct.
But now that we’re all working remotely, you need new methodology to actually put these things into practice (and make sure they’re regularly reinforced.)
Why do remote teams need visions and values?
Your company vision should tell the story of what you hope to build long-term. Think five, ten, or even twenty years down the road. It should be the cornerstone of your business strategy. On the other hand, your values are the beliefs and expectations that guide how everyone on your team makes decisions.
Like KPIs or OKRs, everything your company does should ladder up to your visions and values. They should help provide direction for anything that you or your team is doing. If an action or project doesn’t further your goal of accomplishing your vision or it doesn’t meet your values, it’s time to reconsider if it’s something you should be doing.
However, a team of hundreds of employees (or even just ten) isn’t going to magically sync together.his is particularly true for remote teams, where alignment can be even more challenging. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a team running in a hundred different directions.
It’s up to you as a leader in your organization to determine what matters as a business. You’ll be more successful as a remote team by redefining your remote processes to align with these visions and values.
Putting visions and values into practice
Even if you have a set of crystal clear visions and values, you can’t expect your teams to automatically understand and follow them. They might be able to pick on cues and best practices from leaders and each other. But this isn’t always efficient (or even possible) when most of your time is spent at home or in remote meetings.
Remote companies need to create processes that effectively reinforce and communicate them in practice. Here are some ways you can build alignment across your teams:
Tell a story
It sounds silly, but hear us out! You can paint a complete picture of your business through storytelling. It’s one of the easiest ways to get everyone on your team to buy into your overall vision as an organization.
Think of it like crafting a narrative for your customers. It gets them to truly believe in your product or service and why it’s a fit for them. It’s essentially the same thing, but internally for your teams.
Whether this is a full presentation or even just an internal letter – you should have a story that outlines the history of the company and how it impacts everyone involved in the business. This should serve as a foundation for your visions, values, and even your company culture.
Once everyone is able to outline the company story in the same way (give or take a few words), you’ll know you’re on the right track.
Set goals and expectations
How do you know that you’re working towards your company vision?
Set goal posts along the way that help keep everyone on track. Consider setting short, medium, and long-term goals that help your team reach your vision. Then communicate how every individual contributes to these goals.
Team leaders should set expectations for how these goals will be reached. With remote teams, it’s best to set expectations around objectives reached – instead of hours logged. This will empower employees to do their part, instead of micromanaging their every move.
Build a remote-first culture
Your company culture should be a reflection of the values you have as an organization. Maybe you even made the jump to remote-first based on your values. But they should be applied to every aspect of your business – from managing talent to everyday operations.
However, when a company is fully remote – the key is that this culture needs to support the WFH environment. You can lay the foundation for a remote-first culture by setting remote work policies and providing tools to support the virtual environment.
Most companies don’t have ‘work 24/7’ as a value. (If your company does, it might be time to revisit that one!) So make sure your culture also reflects that. Make time for your employees to bond and celebrate their accomplishments. Platforms like Venue make it easy to build culture across large remote teams through interactive virtual events.
Building community across teams helps everyone align on the same goals. This is particularly true for folks who don’t regularly get to chat with people outside their teams. It’s an opportunity for everyone to have that moment where they realize, “Hey, it’s not just me working alone – we’re all working towards a common purpose, and that’s pretty cool!”
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Prioritize vision and values training in onboarding
When a new employee joins your team, there’s a lot to cover. Adding more to the onboarding process can start to feel like you’re cutting into precious work hours. But you shouldn’t only be providing training on the day-to-day processes.
In remote settings, new employees aren’t immediately exposed to the cultural norms of the company. They might get small hints here or there, but it’s almost impossible to see the full picture over a computer. (Even in person, this can be challenging!) So, if you don’t provide training and guidance, they’re left to their best guess. And if they guess wrong, they’re now set on a path that’s completely off course from the rest of the organization. Not only is it harder to course-correct, but it also doesn’t set them up for success.
Vision and values training also gives new talent insight into the whys. Why were they hired? Why are things done a certain way? This way, they’re excited about the company vision from the get-go and committed to doing their part.
Create codes of conduct
No one likes rules – but we need them! Remote companies should strive to define behaviors and expectations through a code of conduct. Unlike remote policies that determine the what, remote codes of conduct drive how employees should act on the day-to-day.
Codes of conduct help guide your teams to live by your company values and foster inclusivity. They also help you make business decisions that align with your vision.
A code of conduct should answer common questions like:
- How are employees expected to interact with each other?
- What are the expected behaviors?
- What behavior is unacceptable?
- How should you navigate situations where the code of conduct has been breached?
Codes of conduct also help remote teams that span the globe navigate cultural differences. What behavior is acceptable can vary significantly across cultures, which is why you need to explicitly outline these expectations.
Companies like Buffer have even opted to share their codes of conduct publicly, to make sure they’re holding themselves accountable in every aspect of their business.
Foster individual growth
While values and visions are company-wide, they should be grounded in the beliefs and contributions of individual employees. If your team hasn’t bought in, it will be difficult to fulfill your mission and live up to your company values. To do that, you need to support individuals in their own growth and goals.
Create policies and processes around performance management that put your people first. Everything from how you approach recognition to compensation should be grounded in your values. How you treat your employees says a lot about what truly matters to the company.
For example, if one of your values as an organization is empathy, you can reflect this by prioritizing 1-1s and making time for folks to express the challenges they’re facing. Or if another value is growth, you should make upskilling and creating growth opportunities a priority for your team.
If your employees don’t see your values reflected in their own experiences, they’re less likely to believe that they’re truly important.
Taking your values and visions remote
When it comes to remote teams, creating alignment for remote teams starts from the top. Working from home means that sometimes these important values and visions fall to the wayside. It’s up to leaders to effectively communicate what’s important as a business.
By building values and visions into the core processes and culture of your company you can help ensure everyone stays on the same page. By addressing some of the areas above, you’ll be able to put your visions and values into practice and keep them top of mind for your remote team.