How to Manage Performance Remotely

How to Manage Performance Remotely

How to Manage Performance Remotely

One of the most recurring challenges for managers is how to manage performance, in particular, under-performance or poor performance, whilst still trying to maintain productivity and engagement, both from the team member concerned and their colleagues.  Having the difficult conversations  and delivering constructive feedback  are often not relished by many managers, but these are key skills to maintain overall performance and morale.  Issues of under-performance, poor performance, or conflict between team members, tend to deteriorate when left to ‘fester’ and can end up escalating, even in to legal cases.  Similarly, if a people manager tolerates poor performance, this demotivates other employees and can create a toxic work environment.

Years ago, a manager would simply ‘manage’ their team, watching when they clocked in and out of work, and how much work they produced during the day, often in terms of physical outputs or volumes of paperwork.  Nowadays, in the complex work environment, with an increase in remote working, flexible working, hybrid working, virtual or global teams, and matrix management, it is not always easy for a line manager to have regular 1:1s with their direct reports.  However, it is important that they do, preferably meeting face to face where possible, or utilizing video conference as opposed to telephone calls, in order to be able to see ‘the whites of the eyes’ of team members to be able to understand and gauge how they are really feeling. 

Once a lack of engagement, under-performance, or poor performance has been identified in 1:1s, or by receiving feedback from peers or colleagues, it is important to address it swiftly by actively listening and asking relevant open questions, whilst maintaining the balance of caring about the employee’s well-being, but not prying into their personal circumstances.  It helps to examine what motivates and annoys team members, which can be a challenge for a manager who is new to the role or team, or even to Management.

If the organization has a clearly communicated vision, mission statement and strategy, team members should be aware of these and how their own key objectives, projects, and work tasks align with them, in order to ensure they feel motivated and understand how their role contributes to the company’s success.  A Competency and Behavioural Framework is also key to underpinning all selection, onboarding, training, performance management, and retention

According to Gallup, when managers don't hold employees accountable for performance, about seven in 10 employees (69%) are actively disengaged, with only 3% being fully engaged.  Performance can be managed effectively if the Line Manager regularly carries out the following activities:

  • holds regular informal and formal 1:1s
  • knows what the direct report is working on, especially when project work in other functions is involved
  • 'walks the floor' - either physically, or virtually
  • holds regular Career Conversations
  • delivers timely constructive feedback
  • gives positive reinforcement to increase discretionary effort and ensure team members feel valued
  • documents any issues
  • addresses issues swiftly
  • gives clear KPIs with regular progress reports
  • empowers individuals by delegating interesting and challenging work
  • completes any in-house appraisal or performance review processes
  • uses a Coaching style of Management to develop the team member
  • ensures the team member has a realistic PDP
  • asks HR for support if a situation starts to become difficult

Managing Performance takes time and effort, but done well it can lead to high performing teams, greater levels of engagement, morale, productivity and efficiency, and an improved company culture.

At Natural Talent many of our Management Training  Programmes on Performance Management and Feedback Skills  are aimed at managers who are new to a Line Management role, or who are finding it a challenge to manage under-performing or disruptive team members.   They practise highly effective tools and techniques on real-life scenarios:

‘This was by far the best exercise I’ve ever done on a Training course – you must include it in all your Training days!  To actually practise on real-life scenarios in a safe and supportive environment, and explore the options for dealing with poor and unacceptable performance, whilst receiving on the spot constructive feedback, is invaluable.  Thank you!’  Head of IT

About Jill Maidment

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