Performance management has long been regarded as a complicated matter, and it is even more so in this age of hybrid working. Keeping track of employees’ performance when they are working remotely and not in the office can be a challenge. As a result, traditional, one-size-fits-all productivity indicators may no longer be useful in today’s world. It may not be suitable to calculate how many hours an employee spends in front of a computer screen to determine whether they are productive. Organizations will be more successful if they evaluate employee performance based on outcomes, contribution, and value; thus, managers must reconsider their methods.
What can businesses do to tailor their performance management approaches to the hybrid workplace?
Here are five key points that you can use to swing into action.
1. Setting Clear Goals
Organizations should set expectations that goals are realistic and effective at all times. The first rule is to establish clear goals. Setting clear and successful goals is morally right and necessary in the hybrid workplace. Organizations should focus on defining clear, short-term, adaptable, and successful goals rather than yearly goals. To tick all of the boxes of an explicit goal, utilize a formula like the SMART method (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound).
While there are other ways to set goals, such as Objective and Key Results (OKRs), setting SMART goals has long been a favorite method. Whatever you decide to attempt, make sure you give it enough time to evaluate its efficiency, and don’t be afraid to experiment.
You must assess your company’s objectives before establishing goals for your employees. It’s pointless to give specific goals to employees if they don’t contribute to the organization’s broader mission.
Align the individual objectives with those of the team, department, and company. This will help employees to be able to see where they fit into the wider picture and how their work supports the company’s mission and vision. It also fosters a sense of transparency within the organization, which is critical in the hybrid work environment.
2. Face-to-Face Communication at Critical Stages of the Process
Non-verbal cues account for 60% of communication (Psychologytoday.com); hence misunderstandings can arise in a phone call. Face-to-face communication is critical for performance reviews and check-ins. Meet with your employees in person if they work in your office. Video meetings are essential for your distant staff. It also adds a personal touch to these gatherings.
When casual talks are less possible, managers and employees must arrange meetings to address feedback and align priorities. Furthermore, according to research by LeanIn.org, employees’ performance ratings are higher when they communicate more with their bosses.
You must continue the momentum of reviews and urge your managers to routinely check in with their direct reports on their professional goals, growth, and career ambitions for your employees and firm to get the most out of this process. Although performance reviews can be an excellent reminder to check in with an employee on their performance, managers should have regular coaching discussions with their team members.
3. Get Feedback from Those who work closely with Team members
In addition to supervisors, feedback should be taken from at least four other sources: direct reports, peers, managers, and senior leaders. Technology is also emerging as a fifth source.
This is particularly beneficial for hybrid managers who may not work directly with their direct reports. It will enable them to include feedback and evaluations from a peer who is familiar with the employee’s day-to-day efforts, resulting in a more comprehensive review.
Allowing only one person to decide on an employee’s performance evaluation can result in a biased review as well as prevent the employee from receiving valuable input that can help them grow professionally and personally.
4. Spend time to lower evaluation biases
According to research, managers unwittingly favor in-office workers over remote ones. Building deeper bonds with people who are directly in front of you is a natural predisposition. As a result, managers may believe that employees who work in immediate proximity are more productive and efficient than their hybrid colleagues. In a hybrid environment, leaders and managers may interact with some employees more than others, resulting in proximity bias.
Employees who work remotely may feel overlooked and undervalued due to proximity bias. As a result, the aim of remote work is defeated, and organizational effectiveness is harmed. This, in turn, has an impact on employee turnover and retention. There are, however, several powerful strategies for a manager or leader to decrease the impact of proximity bias on their personnel.
a. Regular check-ins: Employees improve as a result of continuous feedback.
b. Regular one-on-one call to maintain communication
c. Assisting employees in opening up about their concerns by demonstrating your willingness to assist
d. Dealing with a typical issue that employees face and gaining their trust
e. Team meetings every two weeks to encourage collaboration
f. Provide all employees with an equal opportunity to speak up about any concerns.
Remote workers feel empowered to produce their best job when they are kept in the loop, receive feedback, and realize that their requirements are being acknowledged and fulfilled. On the other hand, managers can see the advantages of a more connected, collaborative workforce, which results in a far superior business culture and more motivated people who generate even greater outcomes. Their proximity biases will begin to vanish into the ether once they’ve seen that.
5. Intentional Managers Training
The role of managers in the performance management process is undeniably important. Managers should be trained to support new performance arrangements in their organizations. They shouldn’t presume that all managers are equally equipped; instead, they should train managers to evaluate performance based on outcomes, objectives, and outcomes. The negative consequences were a problem even before the pandemic, but they’ve been highlighted even more recently, with women being more inclined to accept the offer of a hybrid environment.
Managers must be taught how to recognize personal biases in their decision-making and how to provide objective, balanced criticism.
Communication is at the heart of performance management. The organization, through its management, must establish clear objectives and goals, as well as inform personnel about what constitutes excellent and poor performance. Rather than treating such interactions as one-offs, managers should schedule regular one-on-one meetings with team members to discuss performance-related issues. Training managers on how to handle difficult conversations could be a smart investment. Employees must feel free to express any concerns about lost productivity without fear of repercussions in terms of salary or advancement.
Performance management isn’t a check-the-box activity. When it’s done correctly, it promotes trust, employee engagement, and, eventually, better corporate performance. You must be honest, set correct goals, and always aim for constructive criticism if you want to get the most out of reviews.
Having the correct communication technologies is especially important for performance reviews in this age of distributed teams. You can still do face-to-face reviews with various platforms and ensure that you and your staff can communicate simply and effectively.
Hybrid teams will be better positioned for success today and in the future, if they use performance management tools and software. If you need help, feel free to approach us, and we will assist you with solutions to develop an effective performance system that aligns with your company goals.
About The Author: See Wei Ngiam
Ngiam’s versatile background in HR management and extensive experience working with MNCs such as Kimberly-Clark and Amway have allowed Ngiam to design Growtribe in a practical way to enable people leader & manager to accelerate people growth through a simple and yet impactful approach.