When was the last time you zoomed out to take in a macro-level view of your impact as a remote worker? If you’re anything like me, I’m guessing it’s been a while. Yet a deliberate pause that enables you to see how you fit into your organization’s broader strategy, dynamic, and forward momentum can be invaluable.
Why, then, do so many of us avoid trying to understand how our day-to-day work ties into organizational long-term goals? For starters, it’s complicated. We likely know our own domain intimately, but when it comes to considering the operation and trajectory of a larger entity, well, that feels like foreign territory. Something for leadership to focus on in some high-level strategy meetings, and maybe share with us after the fact, but definitely not a place we ought to be venturing alone.
Secondly, this kind of thinking is uncomfortable. It requires us to eschew routine, ignoring our nagging task lists while climbing out of the safe zone—that is, the familiarity of our jobs, as if they exist on some discrete plane outside of a larger whole. It’s easy to see how many would rather be checking items off their list than investing time in something that appears intangible or almost entirely out of their control. It’s simply easier to envision our own growth and professional futures rather than that of a company.
Last but not least, there seems to be a pervasive assumption that time spent on such matters is somehow squandered. However, remote leaders, managers, and employees alike would benefit from taking a collective and reflective step back. This represents a critical task at any time, but is especially timely as we enter a new year.
Here are three ways that you can hone in on the big picture as a remote worker:
Communicate about organizational goals.
If you run a remote firm, you owe it to yourself, your leadership team, and your employees to open transparent conversations about organizational goals on a regular basis; that is, what your current goals are, how they came to be, and most importantly, the rationale behind why they’ve specifically been chosen.
For those who are serving as managers or employees within larger organizations, continuing this dialogue within and among respective teams helps to keep the overall focus on purposeful achievement. If everyone can articulate the aims of the organization, it’s much easier as well to make strategic internal decisions that guide you toward them.
Translate alignment with individual roles.
Every person in your organization plays a critical role in meeting or exceeding goals. Whether you’re frontline customer service staff, a business analyst, a behind-the-scenes programmer, or an executive-level strategist, you’re a piece of a puzzle that isn’t complete without your expertise. How you conceptualize this is up to you; seeking out more information about processes and finding additional ways you can support an organization are key.
Moreover, the worker who recognizes the significance of their contribution no matter how seemingly minuscule or peripheral is one motivated to excel. (See the story in this post about JFK’s brief chat with a NASA janitor if you doubt me.)
Demonstrate how teams contribute to a greater whole.
A company isn’t a haphazard collection of people working in isolation, even if our virtual jobs may feel this way on occasion. We work together, collaborating in small groups or across matrixed organizations. As the old saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
So while it’s important to recognize our individual efforts, we must also understand how our team output drives our organizations forward. Maybe the folks in accounting don’t see their immediate connection with the latest product launch, serving offering, or software release, for example. Yet one exists: they’ve produced the supporting analysis behind these efforts, determining what and how many resources can be allocated or acquired.
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