Social distancing and stay-at-home orders have driven millions of offices to close and employees to work from home. Now managers across the country are adapting their techniques to fit this new work system. For many, the question of how to handle performance and promotions from afar has become a challenge.
If your office has recently transitioned to telecommuting, as a manager, you need to be especially attentive to your direct reports’ performance and development. That doesn’t mean micromanaging. But you need to recognize that during this stressful time, some employees may need extra support to maintain their performance while others will use this challenge to step up and shine. It’s your job to support both kinds of team members despite your new distance.
So how do you ensure you’re addressing employee performance and watching for rising talent among employees you no longer see every day? Here are some practices you can put in place to help everyone reach their full potential while working from home.
Addressing Remote Employee Performance
Your work environment may have changed, but for the most part, it should be business as usual. Monitoring employee performance can help your team focus on what’s the same about their work rather than what’s different.
However, you might need to keep a few things in mind as you assess employee performance from home.
First, don’t slack off on employee performance reviews. Whatever system you used before can be continued or tweaked for current circumstances. If you do make adjustments, notify your team. If metrics stay the same, you should also communicate that, so employees are not wondering or assuming that they can let things slide.
Watch for signs that employees are struggling. The signs will be the same as in the office: missed deadlines, incomplete or lackluster work, palpable frustration. There might be a small drop in productivity and quality as everyone adjusts to new work surroundings, but most employees will be able to self-correct quickly.
If you see continuing signs of decreasing productivity and performance, don’t wait for it to get better. If an employee is struggling due to working from home, you can offer support to prevent things from getting worse. If there’s another issue at play, manage it the way you would from the office with a frank conversation, preferably in a video conference.
As always, honest communication lies at the heart of work feedback and approaching performance issues. That should start with setting expectations and addressing issues directly.
Promoting a Remote Employee
We’ve all heard the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.” This is a common issue for remote employees. Even high performers can get overlooked when they don’t enjoy face time with the boss. It’s an unintentional but unfortunate side effect of working from home.
To complicate things further, managers right now are busy just trying to keep operations afloat with a dispersed workforce. Employee development probably isn’t very high on your list of priorities when you’re just trying to maintain the status quo. But if you’re trying to keep things as normal as possible, then don’t neglect situations where a job promotion is in order.
If you have an employee who was on the fast track for a promotion before the pandemic or an opening in a higher position has opened up, don’t postpone the promotion until things are back to normal. Follow your usual promotion process with virtual meetings and digital paperwork.
It’s also a good idea to make yourself as available as possible to your employees in case one of them is considering asking for a promotion. Communicate that you are trying to function the same as if you were all in the office. If you are following your usual performance assessments and are easy to schedule a meeting with, it will be easier for team members to bring up the topic of a promotion.
The key to keeping promotions on the table during this challenging time is to follow the same practices as you would in the office as much as possible and let employees know that is how you plan on operating.
Keep Great Talent Where You Need It Most When You Need It Most
Retaining great talent in uncertain times will stabilize your team and company. Prioritize employee performance and promotions from afar to keep everything running smoothly.
Need more solutions for retaining and attracting the talent you need? Contact the recruitment experts at SelectOne. We have the tools and experience to help every organization grow through smart hiring and managerial practices.