One of the top mistakes remote managers make is failing to give timely and meaningful feedback. Improper—or a total lack of—remote feedback quickly leads to disengaged employees and poor performance.
As many leaders continue to work through how to best navigate virtual interactions with employees, we’ve developed a quick guide on how to give effective feedback, remotely.
When providing remote feedback, DO:
Use extended messages to communicate the purpose and direction of your remote feedback. Highlight specific examples of what was committed to, what was said and done, as well as the implications.
It’s important to establish and communicate timelines for performance reviews. However, when addressing specific situations remote and hybrid leaders must share the feedback as soon as possible. Even if you and the team member are not able to connect immediately, reach out via Slack or email and highlight that you’d like to find a time to connect in the next 2 days to specifically discuss feedback on the particular situation.
Choose your channel wisely.
Broadly sharing positive team member feedback with the entire team is always encouraged. This helps team members feel that their work is valued and drives further motivation. However, for negative or growth feedback, consider engaging in a 1:1 video conference. Talking through concerns while being able to tap into visual cues will help to decrease miscommunication, especially during potential conflicts.
If the remote feedback is positive, consider documenting steps in a shareable and repeatable way. If a situation requires a fix or further action, support your team members by jointly developing an action plan to resolve the issue or improve for next time. Consider housing these steps in a shared project management system, like ClickUp or Asana, so all parties have access to progress made on the steps.
Check your biases.
If you are managing a hybrid team of in-office employees and virtual employees, you’re more likely to have a holistic picture of the work of your in-office employees because you can see them. Make sure you’re delivering feedback in ways that are equitable to each role regardless of location. Additionally, data has shown there are inherent biases in performance reviews. Read up on what these are and how to address them, paying close attention to racial and gender biases. Consider utilizing consistent and published rubrics for performance reviews.
Be empathetic and professional in your evaluation.
Remember your employees are people. If an action feels out of character, consider working to uncover any potential non-work drivers of what happened. Have empathy, especially during ongoing adjustment to working in suboptimal conditions due to COVID-19 or societal challenges. A deadline missed may have nothing to do with the motivation to achieve results and everything to do with more demands on their time. At the same time, keep it professional. If your employee is not interested in sharing personal details, respect their wishes and their boundaries. Lara Hogan, Founder and Leadership Coach at Wherewithall, also recommends removing your own feelings from the feedback.
When providing remote feedback, DO NOT:
Have emotionally-charged conversations on an asynchronous tool.
When sharing negative feedback, your employee and manager may not see eye-to-eye. It’s critical, if any remote feedback conversation is resulting in discord or misunderstanding, to agree to hop on a video chat to more clearly understand one another and get to a point of resolution.
Be the only speaker.
Encourage all team members to ask questions and share feedback and opinions. Increasingly, leadership vulnerability is seen as one of the key tools in building trust and elevating performance. Provide a safe forum where you, as the leader, can be open and receive feedback. Then put in place visible metrics to demonstrate how you have incorporated the feedback.
Just focus on the now.
Focusing remote feedback solely on what happened recently won’t help to solve future and potentially large-scale problems. Try to find the root causes of the issue and solutions for those, too. For example, if the quality of an assignment was potentially below expectations, first, ensure that the expectations were clear and well communicated. Second, ensure that there weren’t mitigating factors to this particular assignment. Third, work towards a plan of finding resources to support the next assignment or necessary routes for skill development.
Engaging in a fair-minded dialogue allows your employee and you to discover previously unknown facts related to the situation. Again, as employees are often working unseen, many dynamics are at play that a manager may not be aware of.
Make it a contest.
Feedback is not about winning or being right. It’s about working to reinforce positive behaviors and learning how to fix underlying issues to achieve a stronger working environment.
Establishing proper protocols for giving and receiving remote feedback helps to continuously foster a learning and growth mindset for your people, your teams, and ultimately the business.