3 Tips for Performance Management of Remote Employees - Glassdoor for Employers

3 Tips for Performance Management of Remote Employees

Performance Management can be defined as the continued process of improving your workforce's performance to reach business goals. It encompasses a holistic view of development to equitably know, grow and retain talent. Examples of performance management include monthly 1:1's between an employee and their line manager, developing competencies and values, and biannual review cycles. 

There are aspects of managing an employee's performance that remain consistent, regardless of your company's current work situation (physically being together in an office vs a remote workforce). For example, setting goals and providing training to your employees will always be a baseline requirement for Performance Management. However, transitioning to a remote work arrangement introduces nuances that make parts of performance management even more important, and requires you to fine tune your management skills. 

If you're leading a remote team for the first time, here are 3 tips to help you manage the performance of your team:

1. Approach your employee's performance through a coaching lens 

Acting as a coach to your employees can help them develop in new ways, learn to remove their own blockers, set and attain goals and create several paths to get there. Whether you're in-person or remote, approaching your employees with a coaching mindset will help you stay open to their needs and assist them with their performance objectives. 

If someone on your team is normally a top performer and you begin to notice a dip, instead of making assumptions or jumping to conclusions, become curious and ask questions before taking any drastic steps (like writing a poor performance evaluation, or transferring responsibilities away from them). 

In your next 1-on-1, you can ask them key coaching questions to learn more about their goals, current realities and situation, and then create different options to move forward. Start with questions like:

  • What has been happening with project X? What would make this project easier for you?
  • If all roadblocks were removed for you, how could you achieve your target results?
  • What are some options you can think of to move things forward? 
  • What can I do to better support you in being successful?

Why this works: There may be extraneous work or life factors preventing them from doing their best work. Through coaching questions, you can encourage expansive thinking which can lead your employees to their own solutions. Being in isolation, they may be struggling to reframe problems in new ways, and providing a space for inspiration can help them feel unstuck.

[Read more: How to Manage Teams When Working Remotely]

2. Exercise empathy and acknowledge their unique circumstances

As a manager, it's important to build an environment where your employees feel comfortable letting you know when they need help. While your 1-on-1s may primarily be used to chat about work related tasks, it's important to leave room for your employees to discuss how they're doing outside of work. 

If certain employees are struggling with scheduling, prioritization, needing time off, or are at risk of burnout, making even small accommodations can ease their stress and can go a long way. To help build trust you can share some of your own personal struggles while working from home to signal that it's ok to open up and ask for help. 

Gitlab recommends that when employees are struggling with work changes due to Covid, their managers can adjust and re-prioritize work or projects to help them stay afloat and combat demotivation. 

Why this works: When you know what your employees need support with, you can help them connect with the right resources. For example, they may be reluctant to reach out to your company's EAP, or may require your advocacy in asking upper management for a more flexible work schedule for them to take care of family. The more comfortable your employees feel asking for support, the better performance they will be able to give. 

3. Make sure that tasks and assignments are clear and understood

When it comes to setting expectations, it's important to reflect on if you've explained the task clearly. It's key to remember that just because a message was sent, it doesn't mean it was properly received and understood. With context and communication being easily lost through asynchronous communication, you may be surprised if your employees deliver work that doesn't meet your expectations, or doesn't match your initial brief. To make sure you're clearly understood:

  • Let your employees know when a task is high or low priority 
  • When assigning a task, provide further research and documentation about the task so your employees have more context  
  • Have a clear definition about what successful completion for the task looks like 
  • Gitlab recommends that when you give instructions, it's important to assume the employee knows nothing about the topic as this forces you to be deliberate and intentional with your communication

Why this works: Asynchronous communication may be new for your team, and can present challenges as you get started. However providing enough context for your employees will shorten the communication cycle and allow them to act quickly and productively on your behalf. 

None of the above tips will yield the results you're looking for if you have not yet established a regular cadence of one-on-ones, or don't provide regular feedback to your team! As we continue to work remotely and get used to our new normal, the process of creating strong performance management will take practice, iterations, and consistent effort.  

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