Many organizations are now faced with the task of managing and evaluating remote employees more than ever before. One may argue that managing and evaluating employees are the two most crucial pieces of operating a successful business. After all, employees are the essential ingredient to the operations of any business and without them, there may not be any business at all. Employers are not only faced with working on a plan to restructure the way that their organizations operate on a day-to-day basis, but they are tasked with reformatting the way that they evaluate their employees’ performance. Evaluating remote employees may be a little different as there is no longer daily in-person interaction for managers to evaluate. Many traditional evaluation methods still apply, however, there is a list of performance measurement tactics that apply best when used to evaluate remote employees.
Even in the best of situations, evaluating employees who work in an office environment may be difficult, let alone evaluating employees who managers may not see them on a daily or even weekly basis. The key to a successful remote working situation is a strong commitment to communication between managers and their employees. Managers who are new to supervising employees who work remotely have the tendency to want to micromanage their employees because they cannot see whether they are working or not. The key to this dilemma for managers is to believe and trust that the employees are working even when they are not in the building. Managers must create a system that has clear metrics that indicate when an employee is performing well in their job, and metrics that may lead a manager to confirm their personal assumptions that an employee is not performing their job while working remotely. Performance metrics may not be as data-driven as a manager would like as it is difficult to place metrics on knowledge-based work where productivity is more of an intangible quality. So, in some environments data-drive or quantitative metrics might not be the best approach when evaluating a remote employee’s performance. However, quality-based metrics may be key when evaluating remote employees.
A few examples of quality-based performance metrics to utilize with remote employees include: customer satisfaction, if the organization has determined what satisfaction looks like for their customers; and client engagement, defined as the employee making an effort to reach out to clients to ensure that they are providing necessary services and keeping lines of communication open. It may sound simple, but one of the best metrics to evaluate a remote employee’s performance may be measured by one or two questions; “Is the employee completing the tasks that they were given within the allotted timeline?” and, “Is the employee’s work product a high-quality work product?” These questions will likely lead to or answer other questions that managers may have with regards setting expectations and evaluating a remote employee’s performance.
The next tool for managers to use in evaluating their remote employees is implementing an internal feedback process. Once performance metrics have been established and clearly communicated, implementing an internal feedback system allows managers to provide feedback to employees on to how they are doing, and allows employees the chance to share their feedback regarding their performance with their managers. Engaging with employees and asking them to share their feedback with regards to how they feel that they are being managed as it relates to their work gives employees a sense of buy-in. It also allows employees the opportunity to discuss where they feel that their talents could be better utilized, and areas of their jobs where he or she believes that they could benefit from additional training. After all, employees are the ones who are most affected by the outcomes of the performance metrics, so soliciting employee feedback is a great way for managers to ensure that they are obtaining an accurate evaluation.
Continuing with the internal feedback theme, it is always important for managers to assure their employees that feedback is always welcomed. A weekly, or biweekly call, or video chat with individual employees, also known as one-on-ones, is a fantastic tool for managers to allow their employees to have the floor and give updates regarding the tasks that they are completing, or projects that they are working on, and to voice any concerns they may have with regards to their work. This ongoing process will aid in mitigating any surprises that the traditional performance management system may not uncover. When managers hold ongoing performance discussions with employees, employees will feel less pressure and less anxiety than if they were to only have one evaluation per year. As the saying goes, “It’s better to be proactive than reactive!”
Metrics and methods of performance evaluation will differ from industry to industry, from business to business, and from job to job, but regardless evaluating remote employees is crucial to ensure that employees are performing at their highest potential. Through performance evaluation, organizations and managers are able to communicate their goals to employees and employees are able to see how their high-quality work product aligns with the organization’s goals regardless of where they are completing their work.
For additional information on performance evaluation strategies for remote or in-office employees, please contact us at www.NewFocusHR.com.
Patrick McKenna, SHRM-CP