5 Keys to Managing Individual Performance Remotely

Starting Point
January 22, 2021

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The goal of management is always to ensure productivity and the fulfillment of preset objectives. But having so many employees working remotely because of current global circumstances or corporate policies makes performance management challenging. Here we have keys to managing individual performance remotely.

None of these keys involve cracking a whip for getting the level of performance you want. We know that working remotely has the potential to be incredibly productive, but it can also be ineffective with plummeting work standards. So oversight is necessary, and by it, employees can become inspired and engaged with their work.

Consider implementing these five keys to see your remote workers become motivated and productive.

1 Notice signs of burnout or mental fatigue

Distressed workers are not productive workers. As you talk or otherwise communicate with remote employees, listen for signs that challenges or concerns are overwhelming them. Make sure they know that you care about them as people and you support them. Yes, the pandemic has been with us for a while now, but there could be new implications for them, causing anxiety. Of course, there are more things in the world to worry about than COVID-19, so be sensitive as you broach subjects that may trigger emotional responses.

If high levels of anxiety or stress are discovered, have a plan for what you can do. Have a list of hotlines, agencies, or other individuals who can help in various situations. Of course, they may need a little time off or to be reassured about their job security.

Related: How to Increase the Productivity of Remote Teams

2 Properly equip remote workers

Your remote workers must be thoroughly equipped for the work you expect from them. Generally, they'll need smartphones and laptops as essential equipment, but if they are also required to attend virtual meetings, they'll need a good camera and maybe some other pieces of equipment. Trying to work without the proper devices or software can mean added stress and less than optimal work.

Being properly equip may mean providing knowledge of how to operate the systems you require. Ensure that your remote employees know how to work with the tools they need. Let them know that these are challenges you face together and backup that encouragement by being supportive as the inevitable issues arise.  

3 Provide consistent feedback and regular communication

Consistent communication is essential in every workplace, but especially in the remote environment. Your feedback will validate your remote staff's efforts and let them know that they are still valued members of the team. The consistency of your communication will save it from becoming a critical feedback loop. If you only communicate when something goes wrong, or the work isn't what you expected, your calls, texts, and emails will be reluctantly received. But if you communicate all the time, even criticism will be more readily accepted. So utilize your communications for praise as well as critiques.

On the topic of communications, you may want to establish your etiquette for work-based contact. During virtual meetings, will it be okay to have their video turned off? How will you select who should speak next? How often should you have virtual meetings, and how long should they last? Working all of this out early on will cause things to run a little smoother later.  

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4 Forget process, focus on outputs

Remote working allows your employees to capitalize on their own best times and optimal ways to do their jobs. This is a good thing for your company. If you insist on work being accomplished in specific (non-essential) ways, you won't get the best out of your remote workers, and you will create stressful situations for everyone concerned.  

Since many people working remotely are also juggling family commitments, ensure that collaborative meetings are held at mutually agreed upon times. Your flexibility will empower your remote workers and provide you with their best efforts. Let your focus be on completed assignments, not so much on how or when they were finished.

Woman working from home with remote device

Related:  6 Tech Tools to Streamline Your Remote Workflow

5 Set clear deadlines and objectives

When completed work is the focus and not the process, clarity of deadlines, and other objectives becomes a priority. Working remotely will already 'feel' different, and that disconnect can translate into mild uncertainty over work objectives and deadlines. So communicate deadlines and work objectives clearly, in more than one place, and more than once.

Getting work in on time is just one of the many hard metrics measured in performance management. Remote workers will still want to have firm guidelines for future appraisals of their work. Set up a clear and direct system that all remote workers have access to for assignments, deadlines, objectives, and any other details that promotes productivity. This system should be updated regularly to ensure that remote workers are not the last to know when deadlines or assignments shift in the office.

Bonus Tip: Encourage innovation

With work-life so significantly challenged right now, it's an excellent time to try new things. When things are uncertain, we want to cling to what we know, but right now, what we know is up in the air. Encouraging your remote workers to be innovative in their approach to work could mean the difference between your business's success or failure. Feeling heard and being allowed to contribute will engage and motivate your workers, and you may be surprised at their creativity.

Provide opportunities for employees to share their ideas safely and what they're doing that is working for them.

Related:  How to Manage a Successful Team of Remote Workers

Final thoughts

Working remotely can be challenging for your team and for the one who must manage them. But this can also be an opportunity to see your team produce their best work. The above tips can be boiled down to setting clear expectations for your remote workers, supporting them as human beings, and providing them with all the resources they need to do their utmost.

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