How to manage performance in the world of hybrid work
Written on 13 December 2021
It’s not unusual for employers to assume that those who put in longer hours get more work done. In reality, that’s not always the case. While some employees can sit in front of a computer for eight hours and accomplish very little, others can breeze through their tasks in matter of just two or three.
Thanks to the pandemic, however, the way organisations think about performance has changed. With less visibility over your workforce, hybrid working lends itself to a results-oriented culture that rewards employees based on their output rather than the hours they spend at their desk. As a result, employers are becoming less hung up on how employees get the job done – after all, focusing on completing more tasks in the shortest time possible will help your business to grow quickly – and more concerned with outcomes.
So how exactly should organisations manage and measure employee performance now that it’s harder to see what employees are spending their time on? Here are our tips for adjusting your performance management practices to better fit the world of hybrid work.
1. Be results orientated
Employers are no longer able to monitor employees in the same way they did prior to the pandemic. This means that achieving outcomes, hitting targets and meeting deadlines are key performance indicators when it comes to managing those working remotely.
Gone are the days when employers can base their opinions on employees’ performance solely on what they see in front of them or what they are aware of, because the reality is that much of what employees are doing and achieving may not be seen or apparent. Focus on results and ensure employees know exactly how you will measure their performance.
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2. Increase frequency of check-in conversations
Regular contact with remote and hybrid workers will help managers to stay on top of progress and overcome potential roadblocks, while also helping workers feel supported and connected.
For hybrid workers, consider scheduling in-person performance check-ins as this will enable conversations to flow more naturally – but don’t wait if the feedback needs to be timely.
For remote workers, make sure that performance check-ins are conducted one-to-one in a quiet, distraction-free environment with a solid internet connection so that employees feel they are getting your full, undivided attention and don’t miss important feedback.
3. Make milestones tangible
Connect goals with tangible outputs that make it clear what “progress” looks like. Everyone likes to have something to show for their hard work, but it can be especially helpful for remote or hybrid workers when you can’t see the tasks they complete each day in person.
4. Be available
Make sure remote and hybrid workers have easy access to get their questions answered, clarify next steps, or discuss potential obstacles when they cannot simply stop by their manager’s office or them down in the hallway.
It might be helpful for managers to have “office hours” on their calendar or to use status updates on your internal software system (Teams, Zoom, etc.) to let employees they are available. This also relies on good diary management – one commonly-cited frustration with remote work is the amount of time managers spend on calls, and it’s important this doesn’t detract from time with their team or performance may suffer as a result.
5. Monitor workloads
For hybrid or blended teams, organisations will need to consider ways of monitoring work and managing workflows. When your team works from the office, you can supervise them directly; when people are dispersed, how do you monitor what they are doing and continue to track productivity?
You might want to consider using an employee productivity or time-tracking tool to give you better visibility over employees when working from home. To make the workday more productive, you can also track time across a range of project management apps like Jira, Trello and ClickUp, many of which are free to use. These sorts of apps are also a great way to co-ordinate projects, monitor progress and facilitate teamwork from afar.
An additional benefit of better workload monitoring is that it gives managers visibility over just how much employees have on their plates so that they don’t become overwhelmed, another potential danger of remote work. In many cases, having too much to do leads to nothing be done at all.
6. Broaden the pool of feedback resources
Performance management often draws on at least four feedback sources in addition to managers: direct reports, peers, managers, and senior leaders. There’s also technology to rely on now as well. These tools are not always used but may become more important in a world where individual managers are not always able to personally assess performance.
One option is to weight feedback so that the reviewer indicates the amount of time they observed the employee. This could be especially important for remote work situations since overall exposure to individuals may be limited.
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Need help producing a performance management framework that aligns with your strategic goals? Looking for advice on dealing with an underperforming employee? Perhaps your managers would benefit from expert training to equip them with the knowledge and confidence they need to manage and improve their team’s performance?
WorkNest’s HR and Employment Law experts can help your organisation to set clear expectations, manage issues fairly and consistently, and support employees in reaching the required standards of performance.
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