Bridge HR articles
12 Jan Managing Performance Whilst Remote Working: Part Two.
As discussed in December’s Legal Update, managing a remote team can be particularly challenging. This month we focus on ways to monitor both individual and team performances against measured objectives by enhancing communication and addressing problems early. See our useful tips below.
Set clear expectations for how remote working will work for your team
Ensuring that your expectations of how your team is to work together are made clear (along with on a one-to-one basis) and, setting clear expectations, goals or outcomes is essential for success.
Outline and schedule: -
- How often you will contact each other:
- create an agenda to catch all issues as you go
- How you will keep updated as a team:
- What issues need to be covered and by who and when?
- What software and tools will you use?
- Set standards for use too.
- Who does someone contact when they have a question or query?
These are simple issues but having a daily and weekly system helps integrate remote teams, ensure smooth working practices and daily and weekly schedules, standards and protocols for working remotely. It also ensures issues and challenges are spotted quickly.
Ensure individuals know what they need to achieve to succeed
In order to ensure maximum effectiveness, this needs to be implemented for each individual role and clearly communicated to each individual person.
For example, if you have a customer service team all working remotely and they each need to pick up calls, resolve them and have certain quality assessments or feedback standards, then you need to ensure that each individual is aware of exactly what they need to do, personally, to succeed.
Alternatively, if the role is in sales and the outcomes are usually clearly measured and defined in the sales targets, you need to be thinking about other non-sales related work i.e., meeting regularly with that customer service team and providing feedback.
Never has “goal setting” – or whatever terminology you want to use to measure success – been so important. When working autonomously, people need to know what they must achieve as an individual but also what they are working towards as a team or company.
Which leads to the next point……
Do not forget to make sure everyone is aware of the collective goals and objectives
This is something that is often neglected when office based so it is likely to be even more neglected when working from home.
However, research into performance management and engagement shows that people work much more effectively when they “buy in” to the common goal and align with the business objectives.
Communicate regularly and tailor your communications
There are lots of tips out there recommending having daily virtual “huddles”, weekly one to ones or “socials”.
The reality is that what works for one person may not necessarily work for another and, similarly, what works for one team or business will not work for another.
The best way to get ideas is to ask your staff.
Some in the team may appreciate more regular one to ones (virtually) or some may prefer to only meet once a month as long as they are clear about what they need to do.
Similarly, forcing social chats or “huddles” may feel like a chore, especially if the team or individual is under pressure for a deadline, but still there does need to be some social interactions to build those bonds and friendships at work – so as managers you need to find the balance that best works for your team.
Nip any issues in the bud
Over the last year we have had frequent calls along the lines of: “A has been at home for months and I don’t know what they are doing…”. This is obviously a massive concern for managers and trust is a big issue.
We have seen first-hand that issues do not always get picked up with staff in a timely manner and continue to simmer, unaddressed, until they reach a point where something has to be done about the long list of issues a manager has, but has not yet raised, with an employee. Worse still is where issues have not been pro-actively managed along the way and only begin to be so at the point where the manager has had enough and wants to dismiss!
One of the biggest barriers to effective performance management is time – this is why the steps outlined in this article are so important. If people are aware of how often you will meet with them, and know what is expected of them, it then becomes much easier to raise concerns promptly and try and resolve difficult situations or issues.
Some examples of ways you could open those types of conversations are:
“I want to discuss how the issue with the customer Smith arose and how I can help you ensure it does not occur again.”
“As you are aware, the report was filed late last week – can we run through what you have got on so I can help you prioritise or look to assist in reallocating some of your work…”
Simply put, don’t just raise the issue - look for the solution too. This will allow the person to quickly move past any concerns of blame and try to resolve the problem and learn from it.
Finally, do not be afraid to raise with staff that if things don’t improve, they may need some more structured support such as a performance improvement plan, or whatever your internal procedures may be for managing performance. Do not wait until the problem is untenable.
If you would like any further advice or support on this topic, or any other employment law issue, please contact the team on 01904 360295 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Claire Horsfield
Claire is an experienced employment lawyer, training legal executive with extensive previous HR experience too. She has particular experience in discrimination, harassment and whistleblowing tribunal claims and leading internal dispute management in various sectors (including healthcare, veterinary, charitable services sector, and engineering clients). KEY AREAS OF WORK Claire is brilliant at getting things done and thankfully she also supports the head of the team as Practice Director, helping develop our growing practice and business too. Prior to starting her legal career, Claire was a specialist in HR advice for over 10 years, she now frequently helps clients with all day to day employment law issues, such as disciplinary and grievances, employee performance management and engagement and all things from recruitment to dismissal too – more recently Claire has been undertaking work defending and bringing claims at the Employment Tribunal. Her credentials include, Affiliate Member of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) and a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Claire is brilliant at getting things done and thankfully she also supports the head of the team as Practice Director, helping develop our growing practice and business too.