Quarantine Work-life: Conducting Performance Evaluations With Remote Workers Share:
- Steve Williamson, Dir. Product Development, eRep, Inc.
- Monday, September 14, 2020
Tags: #quarantine #leadership #remotework
When most or all of your team is working remotely, how do you evaluate their performance?
When your boss is only accessible via chat, email, and at the fuzzy end of a video conference call from the cheap webcam built into a laptop, how do you truly get a sense of your job performance?
Evaluating performance and maintaining a healthy feedback mechanism when working remotely have been ongoing challenges since remote working began. Technology has made some strides toward recreating or replacing the traditional connections we share from in-person and in-office work styles, but there remain some gaps.
Two of the biggest deficits caused by remote working are the absence of subtle cues and body language we experience when interacting with someone face to face, and the spontaneity that occurs in a group work setting.
It's hard to replicate through remote technology the impact of an impromptu conversation in the hallway the moment inspiration strikes.
How do we measure and improve performance considering that quarantining and working from home will likely be around a while? Read on to learn four key steps you should take to keep things running smoothly.
Step 1: Annual Performance Reviews Must Die
Even if your team works together in a traditional physical location, you need to get rid of annual performance reviews. The concept that an individual's performance can be adequately and effectively evaluated once a year is outdated — it was never a good idea to begin with — and is a total wombat: "waste of money, brains and time."
It's still a good practice to conduct an annual salary review, but that's a different activity and has a different objective.
Step 2: Define a Feedback Cadence and Mechanism
There are some powerful tools available nowadays1 to facilitate effective and efficient feedback between workers and supervisors or coaches. Pick a cadence that makes sense based on the employee's duties, such as weekly or biweekly (we recommend at least once a month at minimum) and keep the communication tight and focused on objectives.
The goal of feedback is to give the right information to the right people at the right time.
"Right" feedback means you should keep your communications focused on the objectives at hand. Provide whatever is needed to enable the other person to achieve those objectives as efficiently and effectively as possible.
It also helps to adopt a feed-forward attitude. Anticipate what the other person needs and proactively provide it. Although it is not possible to predict every bit of information someone may need, if they repeatedly need to come back to you for clarification, you may need to step up your communications game a bit.
Step 3: Find a System That Works and Work the System
It has been said that an unused tool is a useless tool. The same goes for software. Even the most basic tool around — email — can be powerful if used effectively, rationally, and consistently. On the other hand, you can sign a six-figure (or higher!) multi-year contract with a bulky and confusing SaaS system and waste every dime you've spent because no one uses it (another wombat).
There are two powerful ways you can make sure you are getting the maximum benefit out of your performance enhancement system, regardless of which system you choose.
Get buy-in and active support behind the system from the top down within your organization. All C-Suite leaders and line managers need to be enthusiastically and consistently behind the system. Leadership needs to use the same system themselves if they expect rank-and-file employees to use it, too. Lead by example.
Second, identify people in key positions throughout the organization who will become resident experts of the system. They become in-house resources when staff need help, and their expertise and enthusiasm for the tool help increase adoption.
Step 4: Connect Proactively
Because the spontaneous conversations in the hallway can't occur when everyone is working remotely, coaches and supervisors need to proactively connect with team members and peers. Use the medium that makes the most sense — some individuals prefer video conferencing, some like old fashioned phone calls, others prefer email or chat.
Pro Tip: Learn the preferred communication method for each individual on your team. Some people feel uncomfortable with video conferencing while others love it. Communication, especially when working remotely, is not a one-size fits all situation.
Tie It All Together
To foster and empower everyone on the team, measure and boost performance with an integrated performance system that relies on what we call the eRep Performance Fuel Formula:
Purpose + Clarity + Feedback
Everyone needs a sense of purpose. They need to know that what they do matters and is appreciated.
Provide clarity. Each individual needs to know their objective without ambiguity.
Tie purpose and clarity together through an efficient feedback system. Use the communication method that works best for each individual to give them the information they need at the time they need it.
For the best integrated performance enhancement and evaluation system on the market today, check out Performance Fuel by eRep. It is a Goldilocks system: affordable for even the smallest organization, easy to learn and use, and provides the right amount of functionality to boost your team's performance without burdening you with unnecessary functionality (definitely not a wombat).
The core of the Performance Fuel system is the facilitated relationship between team members and coaches, using an insanely simple and efficient tool that gives your team members the three components of the Performance Fuel Formula they need to be successful.
 Performance Fuel by eRep: https://erep.com/employers/performance-fuel/
Go to eRep.com/core-values-index/ to learn more about the CVI or to take the Core Values Index assessment.
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Innovator/Banker - Dir. Product Development, eRep, Inc.
Steve has a career in information technology, software development, and project management spanning three decades. He is the author of a series of fantasy novels called The Taesian Chronicles (ruckerworks.com), and when he isn't writing he enjoys cycling, motorcycle adventure touring, and buzzing around the skies in his home-built flight simulator.