The year of 2020 presented significant upheaval in the lives of millions of workers, suddenly finding themselves within their own four walls more than in the office. 2021 looks set to be more of the same, with lockdowns installed in many nations yet again. When you have employees in a dedicated workplace setting such as office space, it is quite easy to monitor their performance due to the work they output, their disposition and frequent chats. But how do you manage performance in a global pandemic?
As an employer, when you find yourself now disconnected physically from all of your employees because of the pandemic, you need to take a different approach to measure performance. Here we’ll take a look at some of the ways you can successfully gauge the performance of your employees without having to be in the same room as them day to day.
- Set your expectations
- Give frequent feedback
- Make your communication clear
- Keep a record of performance
- Make use of multiple forms of media
- Learn to trust your employees
- Provide appropriate training
Many employees will have found themselves without direction during this time and have to be proactive in their role which had previously been defined for them. To keep employees on track and manage performance, you should lay out at the start of the working week, or even daily, the expectations required of them. This could be a fixed task such as making X amount of phone calls on their shift, or it could be more flexible such as compiling information for a virtual presentation over a number of days.
Around the workplace, employees thrive on regular feedback from their superiors and even from their peers. There’s nothing like hearing you’ve done a great job from the boss, so when an employee has obviously worked hard and delivered above what’s been expected, let them know. More effective than an email thank you, pick up the phone and take a couple of minutes to deliver a personal thank you. Be as quick to remind them if they have under-delivered, and find out why.
Employees are looking to be guided by you during this time, so when you communicate in written or spoken form it’s imperative that you ensure you are clear and make yourself understood so that there is no confusion. Always keep them well-informed, which could mean organising a group videocall at the start of each day where employees can ask questions and clarify their requirements for that day. If you don’t have time for that, then a written email will suffice.
Whilst it is good to keep a mental note of who is performing well or not when trying to manage performance, why not think about keeping a personal record book to keep track of employee performance. This is something that would not be shared with your employees but it may be helpful to let supervisors see or keep their own records. Note when work has not been delivered on time, or when work has surpassed your expectations. Doing so will keep the activities well-documented to refer back to later on.
Don’t be tempted to think you can manage everything through a single application. You need to implement various types of media and organisational tools so you can keep on top of monitoring the performance. It’s great to have Zoom set up to keep a visual eye on people during meetings, however think about incorporating an open Skype group chat so everyone can have their say and communicate. Or set up a CMS like Trello or Slack so everyone knows their task for the day.
A large part of effective performance monitoring is to give your employees more trust and not be hovering over their every move. It is highly likely that your employees will be evaluating their own performance working from home. Do they feel distracted? Do they have enough support? Do they need more contact with the manager? Letting them react to their own feelings of working from home will bring about a self-assessment, which can then lead them to reach out for assistance.
It’s imperative that you ensure your managers and supervisors have been given the right opportunity to attend training, in person or online, so that they can identify reasons for lack of performance and address those, not just chasten those who are underperforming. There may be elements of depression, unconscious bias, bullying, genuine sickness, inability to adapt to working from home – all of which are affecting overall performance. Know how to deal with each of these.
It’s a challenging time for everyone working from home, and managing performance has got much harder, however it is important to maintain this aspect so that your business does not begin to slip, and so you can be as effective with a remote team as you are with those in person.
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