How to improve performance management of remote workers

Performance management is not only part and parcel of everyday life in L&D and HR, it is a vital part of motivating your employees. Whether you’re encouraging poor performers to do better or helping to push the best and brightest up the career ladder at a rate they deserve, it all comes down to how you manage performance, from day-to-day conversations to annual appraisals.

When an employee works in an office with you or you see them on the shop floor, it can be easy to understand their progress, where they may need a helping hand, and what their potential is for growth within your organisation. But what about the increasing number of remote workers in the UK?

Freelancing is on the up, yes, but we’re talking about permanent employees who work some or all of their time with you from home or out in the field. Beyond simple numbers, how can you measure their performance effectively and fairly?

Our top 5 ways to manage remote performance

Above all else, there are 5 incredibly important factors to managing performance of remote workers: trust, feedback, deadlines, goals, and open communication.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

1. A trusted employee is a productive employee

Young woman smiling, working remotely at a laptop with a coffee

 

Trust is a hugely important part of any relationship and a big part of why micromanaging can damage morale and reduce productivity. Trusting all of your employees is highly important but it is critical in maintaining a strong working relationship with those based remotely. Having this trust enables you as a manager to be a little more hands-off while giving your remote workers the freedom to do what they do best. This is likely to increase performance on the basis of boosted morale, but also allows your to manage performance in an efficient way.

2. Provide regular feedback

Professional providing feedback to remote worker on a laptop with happy face icon

 

Communication is one of the most important factors in a remote working relationship. While we’ll dive into the bigger picture of that a little later, for now let’s cover the importance of feedback. It’s important, just as an employee in the office, that your remote team(s) understand the importance of their work, how it fits into the bigger picture, and critically what they do well and what can be improved.

In these remote working relationships, it can be easy to fall into a critical feedback loop, in which most or all of the notes provided are negative, even if constructive. It’s important to ensure positive feedback and praise are also given when due, to keep up morale and help remote employees feel as valued as those based at HQ.

3. Give clear deadlines

Cartoon of man sitting on hourglass working to a deadline

Deadlines are such an important part of ongoing performance management as well as hard metrics to measure by when it comes to appraisals. In a remote working environment, without in-person reminders or face-to-face meetings, keeping on top of deadlines can be that much harder.

Being clear in what you expect from your employees from the outset makes performance management much easier to handle for everyone. Clear expectations and deadlines also give you fantastic material to discuss when it comes to appraisals, evaluating ROI of freelance resourcing, and understanding how to get the most out of your time working together.

4. Set goals, KPIs, and objectives

Laptop with Kallidus Perform objective dashboard on-screen

 

This is where performance management systems come in handy. While paper-based or spreadsheet-based systems may function to a certain degree when managing performance of employees in-house, remote objective setting and KPI measurements are managed so much more effectively in an online system.

Setting objectives is a key part of performance management for any employee, and those who work remotely will often need clearer objectives than those whose expectations and workloads can be managed in person. Goal-setting and clear objectives are directly linked to improved engagement, morale, and productivity. Without the structure of a day at the office, remote workers can benefit hugely from this added structure.

5. Communication is key

Young man on a business call with remote worker

 

We’ve touched on the communication point a couple of times, but the key to fostering strong remote working relationships really is open communication. We’d recommend scheduling in a 1:1 call every week (we we’d also recommend face-to-face with those who work on-site) to discuss current projects, objectives, how your employee is feeling, and anything else that may need to be discussed.

Your remote workforce is an asset to your time, and it’s important to help them feel valued and manage their performance in an effective way. Open communication and clear goal-setting ensures this happens fairly and regularly, as well as helping to keep everyone on the same page.

Conclusion

Performance management is about so much more than ROI and getting the most out of your employees. Open communication, keeping up morale, and helping your employees feel valued are vital parts of the process. Managing this for remote workers comes with the additional challenge of lacking face-to-face interaction, so investing time in their continued development within your organisation is key to keeping them engaged, happy, and on track to perform in a way that helps everyone.

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