Remote work has seen a significant increase in popularity over the last few years, particularly among forward-thinking enterprise organizations. Due to pandemic uncertainty, many businesses saw themselves forced to leave their HR comfort zones and adopt a fully remote work model.
For many of our customers, this shift into the unknown felt like a rollercoaster ride of trial and error – one defined by the search for synergy between company culture, agile technology and industry best practices. Remote work has become standard practice across industries, so effective performance management in virtual teams has become one of the biggest challenges for organizations worldwide
Most HCM practitioners would likely agree that performance management is complex. From constantly evolving frameworks to the ever-lasting struggle to foster insufficient employee buy-in, effective performance management is a difficult undertaking even in the best of times. And since remote work seems to be here to stay, we spoke to different Avature customers and put together a list of best practices for remote workforce management.
From technology to organizational culture, this article provides a comprehensive overview of different actions you can take to achieve effective performance management.
Why Communication is Key For Effective Performance Management
Performance communication has always been essential to managing teams successfully, particularly in the digital age. And while most managers believe they are effective communicators, the remote work model has changed the game.
A great part of our work-related interactions are nonverbal in nature – from facial expressions to body posture. In fact, they go a long way in helping managers defuse conflict, avoid misinterpretations and improve team morale. But for remote workers who are in a geographically dispersed setting, effective performance management implies getting creative and fully embracing a multi-channel approach to inter-team communications.
While chat and email will continue to remain powerful tools in virtual management, video conferencing is the channel of choice for many of our customers looking to put performance communication at the forefront of their remote management strategies.
On-demand video and “face-to-face” video conferencing greatly assist those in charge of workforce performance management in their quest to humanize remote communications while also streamlining and optimizing virtual appraisals.
Those organizations that successfully transition the “ongoing feedback” elements of their modern appraisal framework to a robust video conferencing platform are able to build a sense of community among their workforce and avoid the dreaded “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. This way, they can effectively build team trust among their virtual teams, fostering successful remote workforce management.
The Effective Performance Management Cycle: Align, Monitor and Recognize
A proper communication dynamic lays the foundation for other performance management best practices such as employee alignment (i.e., role clarification), employee monitoring (i.e., goal tracking) and employee recognition (i.e., both public and private feedback), leading to overall effective performance management.
In a remote model, employees usually look to organizational leaders for guidance. They seek to understand the micro and macro priorities to focus on, as well as the expectations for their role. An effective way to overcome anxiety among employees in dispersed teams is to have managers focus the attention of their direct reports on goal setting – specifically the objectives and key results methodology (i.e., OKRs).
OKRs prove effective in enhancing both collaboration and agility as a bidirectional exercise in goal-setting. Rather than simply cascading down from the C-suite level, employees are encouraged to develop their own OKRs in harmony with their organization’s strategic vision.
Once remote employees have established their OKRs, management would ideally continue to monitor objectives and key results as they typically would, but with an emphasis on consistent performance communication.
One final thing organizations can do to achieve effective performance management is to develop an employee recognition culture. Whether through gamification, public praise (via an employee hub), or a few words of gratitude shared directly in a weekly one-on-one, recognition reaffirms to employees that they are valued. In a remote landscape, positive reinforcement can make the difference when it comes to successfully managing your workforce.
Encourage Employees to Self-Evaluate
When it comes to performance management, most organizations tend to limit the scope of employee evaluations to direct managers and peers. This means that what typically matters most to an organization when evaluating an employee is the opinion of their direct manager, followed by the first-hand experience of teammates and colleagues.
Workforce performance management doesn’t always involve asking employees to critically reflect on their own performance and engage in a formal self-evaluation.
But when it comes to working remotely, self-evaluations play a critical role in providing geographically dispersed employees with something they very desperately desire: A voice.
According to Harvard Business Review, research shows the habit of reflection can separate extraordinary professionals from mediocre ones.
Enterprise organizations that have a remote work culture that values their employees’ voices see greater employee engagement rates.
Combined with peer and direct manager feedback, the reciprocal nature of self-evaluations can empower and motivate employees, demystifying the ineffectiveness of remote appraisals.
Once they have built a strong sense of belonging among their virtual workforce, organizations can look forward to more open, focused and effective performance communication between management and direct reports.
Power Your Remote Performance Management Processes With the Right Technology
As the way we work continues to evolve, so do the tools we use to support talent management activities.
Since cloud-based collaboration replaced most in-person interactions in several industries in 2020, many enterprise organizations saw themselves forced to invest in their SaaS infrastructures – even in the face of budget cuts.
While most early pandemic investments were easily justified in terms of utility for a newly remote workforce, an alarmingly high number of organizations remain behind the curve when it comes to the technology powering their performance management processes.
Talent management – particularly performance management – is all about cultivating relationships. Which is why we strive to provide our customers with a comprehensive and agile platform that meets every one of their talent management needs.
Effective performance management doesn’t happen in isolation. In a remote work model, employee appraisals are inherently linked to employee engagement and internal mobility. To succeed at performance management unifying core talent management activities and technologies is essential.
Modern enterprise organizations are only as strong as their weakest link. And best-in-class SaaS tools, as a standalone asset, can only do so much for organizations that maintain inefficient talent management software suites.
As such, we both position and challenge our clients to develop a more holistic picture of remote performance management, and the technology that drives it. This way, when it comes to evaluations, all employees – from first-year associates to seasoned managers – can leverage our talent management ecosystem to pursue the development path most relevant to their position.