While remote work arrangements benefit both employees and employers, they do present some unique challenges. One study found that 46% of managers see managing remote workers well as their primary challenge.
So how can we make it easier to master remote performance management? In this post, we’ll share some of the techniques and tools you can use to make it work.
1. Share the big picture with your team
What are the overarching goals for the whole company? How does the work each department does contribute to them? And how does each team help support department goals?
If you want to keep your remote workers engaged and productive, they need to understand how the work they do fits in with the overall business plan.
Get everyone on the same page
When you are working remotely, it’s vital to feel like you are a part of the team because feeling like your contributions matter increases employee happiness and productivity. You can handle this in a few different ways:
- Run 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 from 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 team over Zoom and discuss how the project they are working on fits in with the overall business goals.
2. Make everyone feel part of the team
If your company has both remote and on-site workers, it’s crucial to make sure that people on your remote team get access to the same kinds of 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 versus those who work from home.
To overcome this make sure that everyone on your team has equal access to promotion opportunities and knows what’s involved.
3. Communicate clearly and often
If you want to run a successful team, everyone needs to be able to talk to each other.
Have important conversations in a shared space
Using a tool like Slack can make communication a lot easier because it keeps all conversations in the same 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 on your team will have access to relevant conversations. This keeps important communications from getting lost and buried.
Use screen-recording software for smoother communication
It’s not always easy to read someone’s tone and intent in emails and sometimes, despite our best effort, messages get misinterpreted. Plus sometimes recording a quick video is easier and faster than writing a long message.
You can also use these tools to better understand what your team has been up to. Ask remote team members to record a 1-2 minute video at the end of the day walking you through the work they’ve done that day. You can make this more fun by asking them to share their favorite part of the day and the most frustrating task they worked on. This can help you get a better sense of what’s working, what isn’t and how you can help.
Did you now 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. You can use video conferencing to have weekly catch-up meetings, monthly training sessions or regular project meetings.
And unlike in-person meetings, video conferencing solutions make it easy to record, store and share each meeting so that people who couldn’t attend can get the benefits too.
Take time difference into account
With many team members spread across the globe, time difference can be a challenge. It can also be an asset because it means you’ve got a team working almost around the clock. Let’s say your US-based copywriter wraps up the copy for your latest promo at 11pm on the 17th. Your Israel-based designer can get to work on that in the morning of the 18th without losing any time. You can use a solution like World Time Buddy to help everyone stay on the same page.
4. Document everything
Transparency is important in a virtual team. You need to have processes and guidelines in place that ensure all of the team can find crucial information and conversations when they need to, even if they weren’t part of the conversation.
One of the most valuable things about remote work is that all communications get documented. I recommend putting some guidelines in place to make these communications easily accessible.
- Keep team communications transparent. All critical work conversations should default to your project management tool. Avoid messaging apps like Viber and WhatsApp, because these are designed for personal use and it’s hard to track, share, and organize conversations for the benefit of the rest of the team.
- Detail project information in one place (for example, the description of a Trello card). Make sure all of your team knows to check there first when looking at a project. Avoid repeating yourself on different channels. Put all the critical information into one place, and send anyone who asks questions [that have been answered] there to get the whole picture.
- Managers, train your team members on where they can find key information they’re looking for without going to you all the time. In an office, this can be as simple as a passing question. 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 repeatedly to a distributed team.
5. Help your team bond
Performance management is about more than KPIs. If you want your team to stay productive and produce great work, you need to help everyone feel like they are a part of a team. Spending time together – even virtually – can help your team work better together. You can do that in a few different ways.
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 and then invite everyone on your team to join via a video conferencing platform. At the top of each hour, have everyone share what they’re going to be working on. Then leaving your cameras on, mute your mics and work on your tasks for 50 minutes. Get together again and share what you achieved. Virtual coworking helps you stay accountable and it can keep you 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 making sure that everyone’s familiar with your project management system and knows how to use it.
Choose the right project management tool
A project management tool makes it easy to break projects down into smaller, measurable chunks and assign them to individual team members. This is great for remote performance management because you can attach all necessary project assets to the project brief inside your tool, add a deadline and even discuss the project in your chosen tool. Targets and KPIs for each deliverable should be clear so that everyone knows what they are working towards.
7. Engaged, happy employees produce better work
How your employees feel about work – and about you – affects productivity. When someone feels they are a part of a team that cares about them, they are more likely to work together towards common goals and successes.
When people start feeling isolated however, procrastination and resentment start slipping into the mix. That’s why it’s important to make sure everyone feels involved and understands how their work affects the company.
Published January 16, 2019
Updated March 13, 2020