Remote Coaching and Managing Best Practices
With remote work rapidly becoming more familiar in today’s work environment—approximately 4.7 million people were working from home in February 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States—it’s essential for employers to at least consider remote-work options for their employees. Yet coaching and managing remote employees can be a challenge. But with a few tweaks to your process, you can successfully support your team with performance management tools while they work from home.
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Performance Management Trends
Times have changed. Long gone are the days when employees receive an annual performance review followed by little to no feedback the rest of the year. When coupled with a remote work atmosphere, this desire for professional connection and direction is amplified.
So, what’s the solution?
Utilize a Performance Management Tool
Implementing a performance management tool is a great first step. A robust system will allow you to track employee progress and engagement on projects, check in regularly, and maintain ongoing conversations—all conveniently online. To make the most of a performance management tool, utilize the following steps:
- Implement 1-on-1 Strategy: Determine frequency (weekly is recommended), schedule recurring meetings (between 30 and 90 minutes), implement a form of documentation, and document the process expectations (when agendas should be sent and when follow-ups should be delivered).
- Conduct Regular 1-on-1s: The best way to discuss issues, develop relationships, and make sure employees’ goals are being met is by holding 1-on-1 meetings. We recommend conducting these over video calls (if possible) for better communication and connection.
- Document Discussion: Follow-up with necessary takeaways and next steps in detailed recaps. These follow-ups keep managers and direct reports on the same page and help track progress made week to week.
Make Yourself Available to Provide Feedback
Some managers believe that feedback leads to an uncomfortable work environment, so they shy away from the process altogether. But we know that employees want to receive more feedback, especially while working outside the office.
Working from home can be an isolating experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Let your employees know that you’re available—and if you aren’t immediately free, suggest times where you can connect either by video call or phone.
Ongoing communication offers several key benefits, including:
- Continuous coaching
- Growth-centric conversations
- Increased visibility and accountability
- Ability to address communication gaps
- Skill development and growth
Set Remote Work Expectations
Part of setting expectations for your direct reports relates to specific tasks and projects. It helps to make SMART Goals, which are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. With these in place, both managers and direct reports know exactly what’s expected for any given project.
Another, broader aspect of setting expectations while working remotely is simply communicating how you plan to work together without being in the same place. Some employees prefer to be given instructions and then left to their own devices to accomplish tasks, while others like to check in regularly with their direct reports to see how they’re progressing. Sometimes it’s a little of both, or somewhere in between.
Work with your team to understand what makes them tick. A person who typically works well one way in the office may prefer something totally different while remote; it’s up to managers to recognize, communicate, and set these individual expectations with each employee in order for them to be most successful.
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