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Managing performance in the new distance economy – the future is not what it used to be

Managing performance remotely


The future is not what we used to think it would be… Our world is literally infected with new ways of thinking and working.

With so many staff members working remotely, the way organisations manage performance has to be adjusted. There should also be a bigger focus on re-skilling and constructive feedback to build confidence amongst staff.  Problems and challenges need to be solved differently and creatively.

Right now,working remotely has become more than a trend. Many team leaders and managers have to manage an off-site team.  Although this arrangement seems to suit many people well, there are certainly some challenges.  An advantage is that overhead costs have been reduced and it could become the way many people will work in future.

Here are some tips on managing remote working relationships optimally

1. Have regular check-ins – Keep the team connected daily if possible, using Zoom, Skype, or Google’s Team Hangouts. The purpose is to connect to keep team dynamics going, provide the feedback and resources your team members need. One of the hardest things about working from home, especially for extroverts, is the sense of loneliness and isolation that can set in. This is especially true considering that many people are practicing social distancing. You are welcome to use my previous blog about on-line meeting etiquette to create meeting protocol.


2. Follow-up in writing – Write a short e-mail and attach an action list to remind the team about actions agreed upon during the session.  This could prove to be useful to check on deliverables on a weekly basis. WhatsApp groups could also be useful here but ensure that boundaries are honoured in terms of what should be communicated on these groups.

3. Set and manage expectations – Help your team figure out what they should do and create realistic expectations for their work. When employees know what to expect, they can perform accordingly. One of the biggest problems remote workers have is understanding what their parameters are. Unlike office workers, remote workers can’t learn from just observing their peers and manager. Set yourself and your team up for success by clearly stating both the tasks and the reasons behind them, and help your team understand exactly how you will measure success. That means defining the scope, deadlines, and deliverables for each task or project your team is working on. if you don’t do this – you could be in a situation where you wonder what everyone was doing. Therefore …

4. Focus on outcomes, not activity – It’s not possible to manage every aspect of the work done by a remote team. Resist the urge to micromanage, especially when your team is distributed across different locations. Instead of focusing on activity or hours worked, focus on the outcomes and measure your team accordingly.

5. Empower staff with the correct technology – Ensure your team has the technology it needs to get the work done. If you suddenly have a team of remote workers, you need to level the playing field with tools like laptops, software, mobile devices, and high-speed internet connection. It’s not reasonable to assume that everyone has all of those things.

6.  Remember to praise and provide positive feedback – When you’re in close proximity of your employees, providing feedback or asking a question is simple and straightforward. You make eye contact, tap them on the shoulder, or just walk to their desk. You can gauge their response in person and read their body language.  Working remotely can result in acknowledgement falling by the wayside. Cue the anxiety. Use green language (friendly, firm, asking style) and avoid red language (angry, forceful, telling style).

7. Be flexible – Understand that, especially in the current environment, your team has a lot going on. Many people are home-schooling, supervising young children and performing domestic tasks.  It’s not an excuse for not getting things done, but it is a reason to reconsider what productivity really means. Are staff members efficient and effective?  Working uninterrupted for 8 hours may not be possible, and people work at unusual times.  This might even be ideal as your work is being attended to for longer hours of the day. Instead, trust your team and give them the freedom and flexibility to get work done on the schedule that helps them be the most productive. Good for building trust…

8. Provide one-on-one feedback

Employees are hungry for constructive feedback, and your undivided attention is important to them. Individual constructive feedback is essential to ensure people stay on track, since many people work remotely. The golden rule is – Praise in public and “punish” in private.  Keep notes of action items, corrective action required as well as developmental needs.  Once a year feedback sessions are not frequent enough, ideally conversation should be scheduled for once a month.

9. Ask for status updates –Requesting status updates means you and your remote workers have something to refer to. Ask employees to keep a weekly log of their work. That way, both parties can keep track of what’s getting done. These updates are also helpful for both of you to reference during individual feedback sessions. It also means that accomplishments are not overlooked while also keeping workers accountable. Please request short reports – writing the update shouldn’t take longer than performing the actual task.

10. Trust your team –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 might be dealing with a personal matter. Remember to keep the communication going and give them the benefit of the doubt.

11. Each person should be individually accountable – the image below illustrates beautifully how important it is to realise that my performance is my responsibility.  I am accountable for me.  The bug stops with me.

The future is not what it used to be…. The future, like everything else, is no longer quite what it used to be. By that I mean we can no longer think of it with any confidence in our inductions. Our expectations of the world, work, economy, people and everything actually, has been shaken and we need to shift our thinking about conventional of managing ourselves and others.

Register for our webinar!

Reset your future – essential skills to craft your future proof personal brand on Thursday 16 July 9:00-15:30

Grant Driver and Marjon Meyer, both acclaimed speakers, will be hosting our next online Reset your future – essential skills to craft your future proof personal brand workshop on Thursday 16 July 2020 from 9:00- 15:30. 

9:00-12:00 Marjon Meyer – Industrial Sociologist, Global speaker

  • Future proof your EQ
  • Go and get your future
  • Thinking analytically about the status quo vs the future

 12:30-15:30 Grant Driver – Executive Coach, Global speaker

  • Negotiating new outcomes
  • Reputation management
  • Craft your future proof personal brand

E-mail us on marjon@marjonmeyer.co.za or 082 883 2425 to book for this workshop, or request more information.      

To see what other services are offered, have a look at www.marjonmeyer.co.za

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