Even before COVID-19, employers were offering diverse work arrangements to attract and retain key talent. It was still relatively rare, however, to have companies with a 100% remote employee base. Clearly, that changed with stay-at-home orders. This forced companies to reevaluate how they manage employee performance and keep their team connected when remote. As social distancing orders are gradually lifted, some employees will continue to work from home while others will be on-site. Whatever your configuration, how can you help employees realize their potential?
While flexibility is vital in our new normal, companies also need a standardized approach to managing employee performance. To set employees up for success, train managers on your process and give them a framework to follow so everyone is being treated equally. This helps managers understand which expectations can and can’t be tailored to individual employees. Do you encourage an agile fail forward mentality that encourages innovation? Be sure any performance management policies align with those company values. A seamless experience for employees helps them feel secure.
Listen to your employees
You need to understand employees’ career goals to know how to best support them. Some employees have a clear vision for themselves and others might need help. By identifying their unique strengths, you can help them define goals that align with company needs. The more engaged they are with this process, the better. Also, gather insights about their working style. Do they attack the day at 5am and work best with daily deadlines? Are they a night owl that prefers to deliver a completed project? Are they juggling childcare and need flexibility around their parenting obligations? As a manager, which preferences can the company accommodate? Knowing this in advance helps you to explain their options and avoid misunderstandings.
Establish benchmarks and secure buy-in
We all perform better when we understand expectations. Use what you learned about their individual working style to build in flexibility from the get-go. It shows you understand the pressures of our new normal but still challenge them to achieve agreed upon benchmarks. Sometimes there are non-negotiable expectations for the company. Just make sure those are clear as well, so employees aren’t caught off guard. When everyone is aligned, you’ll get better results.
Keep in touch regularly
Don’t wait until there are issues. Whether face-to-face or virtual, schedule meetings to check in with employees.
- Are they facing any obstacles you can help them navigate? By simply confirming they are on the right track, you give them a boost of confidence and increase their productivity. Adopt that inner coach mentality and help them win!
- Ask how else you can help. Let them know it’s a standing invitation so they always feel comfortable coming to you with concerns or ideas.
- Address issues head on so they can adjust accordingly. Focus on the facts and avoid bringing emotion into the conversation. Don’t let issues fester. Use them as an opportunity to learn and grow.
- Help managers understand when they need to document conversations. Give them tips on how to do this without making it feel punitive. It’s all about keeping everyone on the same page.
- Connect how employee efforts support bigger initiatives. This helps them feel connected to the company’s broader mission.
Whether it’s a stretch project or continuing education, look for ways to grow employees’ skills, confidence and value. This demonstrates the company is truly invested in their growth. Employees will give you their best when they feel you have their best interests at heart. As a bonus, you’ll see retention boosted.
By providing real time feedback, annual reviews become a completely different tool. Managers can use this time to drill deeper on:
- Achievements and their impact
- How they evolved their ability to pivot or course correct
- Any recurring patterns where continued support is needed
- Motivating goals for the future with potential career paths
Even if there are challenges that will be discussed, none of it should be a surprise to employees if you’ve established a culture of impromptu feedback.