While remote work arrangements benefit both employees and employers, they do present some unique obstacles. One study revealed 46% of managers see managing remote workers well as their primary challenge.
So, how does one master remote performance management? In this post, we’ll share some helpful techniques and tools you can use to make it work.
1. Share the big picture
What are the company’s overarching goals? How does each department contribute to them? How does each team support departmental goals?
If you want to keep your remote workers engaged and productive, they need to understand how their work fits into the overall business plan.
Get everyone on the same page
When working remotely, it’s vital that everyone feels like part of the team, because knowing their contributions matter increases employee happiness and productivity. You can handle this in a few ways:
- Hold quarterly town hall meetings. You can run an in-person or video meeting where you update everyone on company performance and company goals, then show them how each department fits into the big picture.
- Run quarterly presentations with department heads. Ask various department heads to share their successes and failures for each quarter.
- Schedule one-on-ones or small team huddles. Get together with your members over Zoom and discuss how the project they’re working on furthers overall business goals.
2. Make everyone feel included
If your company has both remote and on-site workers, it’s crucial to make sure remote employees have access to the same opportunities as everyone else.
This can get a little tricky due to the availability bias (our tendency to make decisions based on information that’s top-of-mind). In mixed teams, this bias can quickly turn into “presenteeism” — the phenomenon of promoting people who are seen in the office over those who work from home.
To overcome this, give everyone equal access to promotion opportunities and tell them what’s involved.
3. Communicate clearly and often
A successful team requires open communication between all members.
Have important conversations in a shared space
Implementing a tool like Slack can make communication much easier because it houses all conversations in one place.
Slack is a great solution for performance management because you can create sub-channels for each project and invite team members to them. The channel is searchable, so everyone in your group will have access to relevant conversations. This prevents important communications from getting lost or buried.
Use screen-recording software for smoother communication
It’s not always easy to read someone’s tone in emails, and, despite our best efforts, messages can be misinterpreted. Sometimes, recording a video is easier and faster than writing a long message.
You can also use these tools to better comprehend your team’s recent work. Ask remote members to record a one- or two-minute video at the end of the day walking you through the work they did. To make this more fun, ask them to share their favorite part of the day and their most frustrating task. This will give you a better sense of what’s working, what isn’t, and how you can help.
Did you know that 87% of remote workers feel more connected thanks to video conferencing? Video conferencing software like Zoom makes it easy to hold remote meetings and help your team stay connected. Use videos for weekly catch-up meetings, monthly training sessions, or regular project meetings.
And, unlike in-person meetings, you can record, store, and share each meeting so people who couldn’t attend can watch later and benefit, too.
Take timezones into account
With team members spread across the globe, differing timezones can be a challenge. However, it can also be an asset, because it means you have a group working almost around the clock.
Let’s say your US-based copywriter wraps up the copy for your latest promo at 11 p.m. PST on the 17th. Your Singapore-based designer can then work on it during their day and get it back to you the morning of the 18th. You can use tools like World Time Buddy to help everyone stay on the same page.
4. Document everything
Transparency is imperative in a virtual team. You need to have procedures in place to ensure the group can locate crucial information when necessary, even if they weren’t part of the original conversation.
One of the most valuable aspects of remote work is the documentation of all communications. I recommend putting some guidelines in place to make these communications easily accessible.
- Keep communication transparent. All critical work conversations should default to your project management tool. Avoid messaging apps like Viber and WhatsApp, because they are designed for personal use and it’s hard to track, share, and organize conversations for the rest of the team.
- Detail project information in one place (for example, a Trello card description). Make sure all team members know where to check first when looking at a project. Avoid repeating yourself on different channels. Put all critical information into one place, and send anyone who asks questions (that have already been answered) there to get the whole picture.
- Managers, train your team on where to find key information. Repeated appeals for your time inhibit your productivity. In an office, a question in passing isn’t a huge interruption. But, when everyone is remote, it becomes a barrage of pings that can derail your workday.
The guidelines above will help keep communication crystal clear, while minimizing the time it takes to disseminate everything to a dispersed team.
5. Build bonds
Performance management involves more than KPIs. If you want your group to stay focused and produce great work, you need to make everyone feel included. Spending time together – even virtually – can significantly improve teamwork. You have a few options to accomplish this.
Experiment with virtual co-working days
The idea of a virtual coworking day is simple, but effective.
Here’s how it works: Choose one day to invite everyone to join a video call. Have everyone share what they’re going to work on, then, leaving your cameras on, mute your mics and work on your tasks. Come together for breaks and at the end of the session to share what you achieved.
Virtual coworking helps you stay accountable and motivated.
6. Track team progress
There are different ways to track people’s progress. I’m a fan of project tracking because it allows for greater autonomy, and it’s easier to match project deliverables to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Use the same project management system for everyone in the company, whether they work on-site or remotely. Next, spend some time familiarizing everyone with your project management system so they know how to use it.
Choose the right project management tool
A project management tool makes it easy to break down projects into smaller, measurable chunks and assign them to individual team members. You can attach all necessary assets to the project brief inside your tool, add a deadline, and even discuss the project in the platform — perfect for remote performance management. Targets and KPIs for each deliverable should be clear so everyone knows what they’re working towards.
With so many resources out there, you can find something that fits almost any workflow. Tools like Wrike, Asana, Trello, Monday, or Airtable have their pros and cons, so choose one that works for your group.
7. Engaged, happy employees produce better work
How your employees feel about work – and you – affects their productivity. When someone feels they’re part of a team that cares about them, they’re more likely to work together towards common goals.
When isolation sets in, however, procrastination and resentment start to creep into the mix. That’s why it’s important to involve everyone and help them understand how their work affects the company.
Published January 16, 2019
Updated March 13, 2020