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Giving Good Feedback Remotely

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Work is evolving and we need to adapt to these changes. The days of casual coffees in the communal kitchen or a chat by the water cooler (I genuinely did this) are on hold for the foreseeable future so as a remote manager, we have a number of options for recognising our employees and proving them with helpful feedback.

In this volatile and stressful economic climate, employees are tuned into leadership as they look for direction, support, and motivation. Feedback, delivered with empathy and patience, is the glue that bonds employees to productivity.

Here are my top tips on how to ensure that effective and constructive feedback can be given no matter where you and your team are based.

Tips for Giving Feedback Remotely

1.      Establish frequent and causal Check-Ins

Remote working, by nature, lacks the same human connection as a typical working environment. This style of working requires more communication, so begin simply by regularly checking in.

Start the conversation with a “how are you doing today?” and “what are your priorities and most important things you are working on today?” Remember a little compassion goes a long way.

The key is to let them know you’re on their side, even if you have to address something they could improve. Regularly checking in with your team—by chat, call, or email—can help maintain that connection. It can also help us overcome common feedback issues and build trust.

2.      Ensure you are communicating effectively

Your body language and facial expressions are critical in times like these. Use a platform like Microsoft Teams or Zoom to conduct your 1 to
1’s and team meetings.

Have your camera turned on. This is extremely relevant when employees, accustomed to face to face interactions, can only see you through a screen. Be present and turn off notifications to avoid being distracted with other calls or emails.

Another important thing to do to ensure effective communication is to clearly define work requirements from the beginning. When employees know what to expect, they can perform accordingly.

Unlike office workers, remote workers can’t learn from just observing their peers and manager. Without direction, they'll have a much steeper learning curve to knowing what’s expected of them. Consistent communication is paramount and don’t ever assume “no news is good news”

Your remote workers trust you to be open and honest with them. Be sure to do the same. If an employee isn’t responsive or meeting a deadline, don't just assume they're slacking off. Instead, reach out. They might be overwhelmed or could be dealing with a personal matter.

3.      Delivering constructive and negative feedback

Giving feedback (especially negative feedback) is a vital component of being an effective people manager, but it’s so easy to get it wrong. Unsurprisingly so, because, in giving negative feedback, you’re wading into delicate territory.

Most people understand objectively that receiving feedback serves as an important purpose in career progression, and that opting to give
negative feedback is a way of fostering your employee’s development, but that doesn’t prevent the potential psychological stress.

Be specific about what’s working and what isn't. When you have negative feedback, make sure you discuss it directly with the person and not in a group setting.

Leaders can often inadvertently sugarcoat their criticism, tocombat this, make sure feedback is delivered frequently. This has been shown to be more accurate. When the time comes for giving negative feedback orconstructive criticism, the rapport and mutual trust will then already be there and therefore you can be more honest.

Be mindful to focus on the specific problem and not the individual and be factual and not personal, it takes 10 positives to counteract one negative. It's also vital to remember that you need to be open to negative feedback too.

4.      Share the good news

Positive feedback is a great motivator and essential for building team spirit. Not being in the same environment physically doesn’t mean you can’t create an environment in which your team can feel connected.

 A team or company email is a very encouraging way to share news of a win, a substantial contribution or just merely a shout out for a job well done. Celebrate everyone’s success openly (with their permission of course.)

Having a dedicated written space for recognition or gratitude can be a wonderful opportunity to share feedback and the perfect opportunity to give “kudos” to a colleague.

Performance management and feedback for remote workers needs a little extra thought and work, but with the right tools, it can be simple and straightforward for both the manager and the employee.

For more information on hiring and managing remotely download our Employers COVID-19 Guide or if you have any questions please do get in touch.