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4 key challenges of remote performance management

Even before the Corona crisis began, many companies were revamping a traditional performance management cycle for continuous dialogue. As a result of forced working from home, this trend has accelerated. In this blog, we cover four key challenges of remote performance management. Of course, we also discuss the solutions we have developed with our clients.

 

Remote working accelerates digitization of performance management

By 2020, as a result of accelerated remote working, digital support for HR processes rose from place 7 to place 4 on the list of most important topics for HR professionals in the Netherlands. Consulting firm Berenschot surveyed that as many as 82% of HR professionals said they expect major changes in their organizations due to technological developments because of this crisis.

 

Managers need to develop a new leadership style

One of the main reasons why companies are accelerating investment in remote performance management is that before the corona crisis, many managers adopted a leadership style of “management by walking around.” This often involved managers literally on the shop floor in the office. This gave managers the ability to manage ad hoc for performance and behavior. In the work-at-home situation, managers are asked to manage their employees remotely. As a result, obvious ways of working must suddenly be revised.

 

The main challenges of remote performance management

Adapting management style is a real challenge for many organizations and managers. It often involves ingrained habits and behaviors. Four key challenges of remote performance management are: managing for output, structuring communication, keeping the focus on innovation and monitoring employee engagement.

1. Steering for input

There needs to be more focus on results. It is simply no longer possible for managers to monitor employee productivity based on the number of hours worked. Managers will therefore have to work with a methodology by which they make clear agreements with their team in advance regarding expected results. Depending on the employee’s task maturity, only the objective can be aligned, or the desired execution of the project can also be discussed. By also agreeing on a clear deadline, the employee knows when what result is expected. The manager will then have to give the employee the confidence to realize this result as well.

2. Structured communication

No longer working in the same office eliminates much of the informal communication. “Can you take a look?” and “What do you think of this solution?” are questions that are less likely to be asked. Digital conferencing tools have taken off quickly but are still a barrier to informal communication. So it is extra important for managers to make expectations clear up front. It is also important as a manager to maintain a structured dialogue with team members. Obviously about the informal atmosphere but also about the progress in achieving the set goals and any roadblocks.

3. Maintain focus on innovation

One of the biggest challenges of working remotely (fully) is the lack of start-up of new projects. In practice, we have seen that (partly caused) by the change in management style, many teams had their full focus on the “ongoing business.” This left innovative projects that previously came to fruition in the desk drawer. This while in our previous blog, “The 3 reasons to revamp your HR interview cycle,” we dwelled on the need for organizations to keep innovating in order to stay in business. Sogeti research shows that the average lifespan of companies has decreased 25% every 10 years since 1993. If this trend continues, by 2033 a company will exist for an average of only 5 years. All the more important to keep the focus on innovation as management.

One solution to this is to work with clear result areas. This can be set up at the organizational level as well as at the team level. One method used is to divide all items on the organization’s balance sheet as result areas. On a smaller scale, of course, it is also possible for an employee within a team to be made responsible for a particular channel. Even though everyone on the team works together on projects. By making one person responsible for something, you encourage that person to come up with concrete suggestions for improvement. Many times we see within organizations that they choose to create modern role and job descriptions and include the result areas in them. Using these role and function descriptions as input for the evaluation interviews keeps the focus on them throughout the year.

4. monitor employee engagement

The fourth but certainly not the last challenge is monitoring employee engagement. Many of you will be thinking: this was also a challenge before employees largely worked from home. That’s right. However, the elimination of social interaction and simply being able to see the employee has significantly increased this problem. On the one hand, more employees will experience a decrease in their engagement with the company due to seeing and speaking less to their colleagues. On the other hand, it has become even more challenging for managers to identify early on that an employee is struggling with something and or perhaps becoming less engaged. So organizations will have to think about developing a system at the organizational level to monitor engagement on the one hand, but also facilitate managers with methods to start the conversation with their teams and individual employees about their engagement.

 

The solution: modern performance management focused on remote working

In recent years, there have been many developments in performance management software. At Learned, we have developed a platform that helps companies implement a modern performance management cycle. With tools for Goals (OKRs), we help managers agree clear goals with their team members and manage for output. In addition, we provide tools for 1:1 conversations and feedback. Thus, we help managers stay in ongoing conversation with their employees and monitor their engagement. By facilitating managers in adapting their management style and steering by output, we see that companies succeed in increasing their employee engagement and performance.

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