It's well known and well-documented that managers who provide a mixture of timely feedback on a consistent basis and more in-depth reviews at select points throughout the year promote productivity and engagement.
Remote workers need this input just as much as on-site staff, if not more. Whether they telecommute regularly or must work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, remote team members thrive when leaders demonstrate an interest in their performance and offer clear suggestions for improvement.
Managing employees in difficult times (and often a remote environment) is never easy. And it certainly isn't right now, when so many employees are doing so unexpectedly and for the first time. But providing feedback, consequences and follow-through to employees who are displaying poor performance or toxic behavior is particularly challenging these days.
However, input and performance reviews are still important. Here are some tips for successfully executing them remotely.
Use a Form
Using a pre-made employee evaluation form in conjunction with the meeting offers several advantages. The document provides an outline of talking points, which ensures pertinent topics get covered. It also establishes consistent criteria so that a manager doesn't run the risk of judging certain workers on different standards and getting accused of bias or favoritism.
As a record of what was discussed during the session, an employee evaluation form serves as a point of reference for either party to turn to in support of promotion, termination, and other matters.
Since many performance review forms contain areas for workers to fill in, send it to remote employees in advance of your meeting to encourage preparation and thoughtful reflection. In addition to rating their own performance, allow space for them to input career goals.
Consider Changing Your Evaluation Timeline
Businesses usually vary in how often they conduct formal performance appraisals, though six-month and yearly reviews are rather common.
In cases where team members are new to remote working arrangements, companies should opt for shorter intervals in order to evaluate how the set-up is working out and what areas an employee might be struggling with that you can help them with.
Conduct Your Evaluation 'In Person'
Finally, opt for video conferencing if at all possible. Seeing the other person during a one-to-one conversation of this nature generally feels more comfortable than a phone call, especially if any sensitive topics come up.
In addition to this, via a video conference you will be able to witness non-verbal behavior, which helps you to judge things such as understanding or frustration. And don't discount the effect of a visual on attention — seeing each other promotes both sides giving the performance review the full concentration it deserves.