It’s easy to give feedback and ask questions to employees when you’re in the same physical location. There’s eye contact, and you can approach them at their desk or call them for a private meeting. You can gauge their reaction directly with cues like facial expressions and body language. But it’s different when you have remote workers or a hybrid, due to the inconvenience of calls and conferences feedback is often avoided or delayed. An increasing number of remote employees worry about their manager’s opinion as they simply don’t get adequate feedback.
Communicating with your remote employees can be challenging even with the ubiquity of technologies like Zoom, Google Meet, email, and messaging apps. Timely communication about job expectations that is documented for easy long term access is the solution that works. To achieve this, managers must adopt technology that helps them in consistently leaving feedback for their teammates, both in office and remote.
With remote work becoming the norm for most companies today, organizational leaders and managers are investing time in formal performance management for remote workers. Here are some tips to consider:
1. Set healthy expectations
Employees need to know job expectations from the get go, this is well before you think about performance management. Remote workers are typically worse off when it comes to clarity of job expectations, not being in the office near your boss contributes to this confusion. There is no manager or other peers remote workers can physically observe. This often results in a lack of sufficient direction and a steeper learning curve not to mention lower confidence contributing to lower job performance. A performance management software like AssessTEAM can ensure remote workers get a clear list of expectations with KPIs and goals to stem the confusion and help them meet manager expectations better.
- Maintain and improve accountability – Employees must know what they are accountable for, this ensures there is no confusion on what they need to deliver and where they are dependent on others for delivery.
- Maintain and improve integrity – Integrity means following your moral or ethical convictions and doing the right thing in all circumstances even if that means working harder to get a job done well. Successful companies encourage workers to become customer advocates to deliver services and products that align with customer interest.
- Maintain and improve self-discipline – Discipline is something that becomes even more important due to the distractions that come with Work from home or Hybrid work culture, managing discipline becomes a collective responsibility of the team.
- Establish a robust work from home (WFH) policy – Policy that gives employees freedom while ensuring the work gets done effectively is the need of the hour. Every organization is unique, in fact each team might have different work from home policies that helps them deliver on expectations.
- Improve remote work experience – Remote workers face problems with their IT infrastructure that office workers can take for granted, this goes for HR problems too. This is where a clear process of ensuring your IT and HR staff can assist remote workers can help.
- Define and share company values – Remote workers find it challenging to feel they’re part of a team working towards collective goals, a process to document goals and scheduled meetings to check on goal progress can help.
- Encourage balance and health in the WFH environment – Remote workers are more susceptible to burn outs as there is pretty much no separation between workspace and living space. A good HR professional will ensure remote workers get the support they need to maintain a healthy work life balance.
2. Arrange regular 1:1s
Annual employee reviews are insufficient. Regular check-ins are critical aspects of performance management for remote workers as they keep both parties up-to-date on expectations and progress. These also encourage rapport and a healthy culture of providing instant feedback to help employees improve and be motivated.
It makes a big difference even if the remote employee can come into the office once in a while.
3. Ensure consistent feedback
Be clear about your feedback to prevent your remote workers from overthinking your communication. It’s crucial to have a good flow of conversation between them and managers. Be consistent about providing feedback and praise, its easy to advise employees your meet every day and ignore ones you do not see, setting targets in terms of monthly or quarterly feedback can help.
4. Encourage regular status updates
Status updates allow you and your remote team to have some references. Get a weekly log of their work to keep track of accomplishments. It lets you monitor progress while serving as your reference for one-on-one evaluations. This way, you won’t be overlooking their accomplishments while ensuring that each worker can be accountable.
5. Learn to trust your workers
Remote workers want you to trust them. They also want you to be honest and open with them. If they are not meeting a deadline or being responsive, avoid assuming that they’re slacking off. Reach out and ask questions. For all you know, they might be going through a personal matter or feeling overwhelmed. Remember the importance of communication.
6. Promote alignment
Managers can lose track when workers are dispersed and not in the same office. This is why it’s important to ensure that your team is working on the same objectives and that they continue to align with your organization’s overall mission. Share organizational goals and maintain transparency when setting KPIs in a remote work setting so that each worker’s objectives and key results remain aligned with your company’s.
7. Stay flexible
Course correction is essential to performance management for remote workers. When priorities change, you’ll want your employees to stop focusing on previous and outdated ones. Performance can derail when they keep focusing on the wrong matters. You must be flexible, check in regularly, and consider short-cycle work planning.
If someone is underperforming, consider changing tack and isolate performance from the individual. More importantly, determine the reasons for their underperformance. As a manager, you could consider the differences between remote work and being in the office, and organizational issues. Separate your emotions from facts before you speak with them, and take responsibility by providing sufficient resources, feedback, and coaching.
8. Recognition and reward
Regular reward and recognition of performance are crucial in managing remote workers. Instead of waiting for annual reviews, consider acknowledging accomplishments and good work using the critical incident method of evaluation.