Stay Connected to Remote Employees

By Natanya Rutstein

The newly accelerated Work from Home (WFH) business environment, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, is a timely opportunity for managers to bolster connection with employees as well as hone their feedback and coaching skills. According to Gallup research “frequent conversations yield the biggest improvements in engagement. And remote workers are three times more likely to be engaged if they receive feedback from their manager at least a few times per month”.  Too often managers avoid regular check-ins with employees as they are not sure how to handle them or what to include in these feedback sessions.

Here are some tips for managers on how to support their remote employees and guide performance improvement and development during this time of global crisis.

Make it quick and effective – Schedule weekly feedback sessions for no longer than 20-30-minutes. These can be done either telephonically, over internet meeting apps such as Zoom or in-person for those employees who are already back in the office.

Goals must be flexible – Goals and targets should have flexibility built into them in order to adapt to rapidly changing business scenarios. Make sure that performance metrics are re-aligned to accurately measure changing goals.

Goal clarity – To hold remote employees accountable for their performance it is essential that goals are clearly articulated and regularly updated with all changes. Clear goals will help to keep employees focussed and instil a sense of purpose in their performance.

Motivate and engage through recognitionWith so much uncertainty and disruption created by COVID-19, maintaining employee engagement and motivation is crucial. Recognition can be achieved through public acknowledgement, personally tailored gestures of appreciation or development opportunities. Recognition is crucial especially since financial rewards may be curtailed due to the negative economic impact of COVID-19. Managers should actively seek opportunities to recognise employee contributions and successes wherever possible.

Don’t neglect employee development – Now is not the time to put employee development on the back burner. Check-ins must incorporate discussions on development plans and career goals and aspirations.  Managers must identify gaps in knowledge or poor performance and take the necessary steps to remedy this.

Emotional NeedsDuring check-ins managers must be on the lookout for signs of emotional distress and offer empathy and support to employees in overcoming such hurdles.

Practising continuous performance management during this crisis will help organisations to stay connected to their remote employees and boost employee motivation and engagement.

Natanya Rutstein
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