Our Top Tips for Managing a Remote Workforce
Throughout the course of the last year, many organisations have moved their workforces to being home based. Following the announcement of a further lockdown, and the advice that those who can work from home, should, this is likely to be the case for an increasing number of staff over the coming months.
One of the biggest areas which has required changes to processes to meet the needs of staff working from home is performance management. Managers often find that a lot of the daily interactions, office conversations, adhoc queries etc make up a lot of the information they use to assess performance and achievement. Whilst working from home, these conversations are not happening, and when meetings and discussions do take place, they are often perceived to be more formal and having more of an agenda.
Performance is assessed throughout the employment cycle, mainly covering the following key areas:
- Induction / probation
- Ongoing performance review / appraisal
- Dealing with specific issues (misconduct / disciplinaries etc)
There are many benefits to having an effective performance management system in place, which include:
- Identifying strengths and strong performers within the team
- Identifying areas for development and improvement
- Setting goals and objectives
- Establishing training requirements and support required
- Building relationships between employees and managers
- Developing teamwork and collaboration
- Reminding of company values, objectives and aims
- Reward (bonuses), pay rises etc are often determined following appraisal
One common mistake many organisations make is just seeing performance management as a once-a-year appraisal. In reality, it is important that it is an ongoing cycle which incorporates all of the areas listed above. Dealing with performance issues is always more effective when done in a timely manner, and when the feedback is relevant, and actions can be put in place to support and change the behaviour.
When working remotely, it is even more important that relationships are maintained (or established) between managers and their direct reports. This will help in many ways including
- Identifying when performance is not at the required standard
- Having meaningful and supportive conversations to turn underperformance around
- Being able to recognise when an employee has exceeded or achieved outstanding results
- Having rapport to provide other support and identify any other areas which are affecting performance
In these challenging times, many staff are working long or unsociable/irregular hours to be able to accommodate childcare, home schooling, caring responsibilities as well as suffering directly with the effects of the pandemic – isolation, poor mental health, bereavement, job insecurity, financial worries. All of these areas can affect an individual’s performance and contribute to lack of motivation, burnout, presenteeism and other levels.
Having a process to manage performance, which takes into account both the different motivators and different methods of assessing employees can be invaluable to developing your business.
Staff’s performance can be assessed by looking at skills and abilities, both taking into account the skills and abilities they already have as well as the ones which can be developed. Highlighting how these fit into company values, and how they fit into the individuals own development objectives, career goals and succession planning is likely to increase their motivation and engagement with them.
It is also important to have an awareness of recognition of how different employees are motivated in order that you can set goals and objectives which inspire them, and they commit to. Some individuals will be extrinsically motivated – this means they are motivated by aspects such as bonuses, pay rises, and physical rewards. For others, their motivation will in intrinsic – motivated by helping and supporting, by non-financial recognition and by feeling that they have contributed. Although your overall aims and objectives are the same, adopting a one-size-fits-all approach may not get your employees on board and encourage them to give their all and contribute.
The most important aspect of managing performance is being clear, honest and transparent in your feedback and assessments. Setting clear goals and carrying out regular reviews and updating on performance will ensure your employees know how they are achieving towards the goals.
In the current times, ensuring that your managers are aware of their responsibilities, and the importance of their role in managing performance will ensure a seamless process which adds to your company’s growth and achievement.