Previously on Remote Manager Series: Part 1 – Proven ways to engage remote teams
Managing performance is probably the first thought that comes to a manager’s mind when thinking about remote work or work from home policies.
As a remote manager, how can I assure performance from my team when I’m not in the same room?
Many more questions like this one might pop into your mind. It’s natural for them to appear, you’re not seeing with your own eyes work being done or progress. So, doubts appear.
However, tackling this issue is a matter of structure, consistency, and communication. From my experience, It’s less about micromanaging and more about organizing.
Let’s remember that performance is a matter of meeting expectations and plans set. It’s not about hours worked.
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Be very intentional about your team’s work structure.
The objective here is to create a structure around measuring and working on incremental gains towards those goals. These come in three parts:
- Setting the initiatives that will move you closer to your target.
- Reviewing initiative progress and completion periodically: weekly, monthly and quarterly
- Measuring progress and impact of initiatives
Different companies have different ways of managing their directives, objectives, and strategies. There’s the OKR framework, 4DX, Balanced Scorecard, and others. None of which is better than the other, it’s a matter of style. Regardless of which framework you use, you’ll more than likely have Quarterly and Monthly targets.
As a remote manager, the importance of having proper structure magnifies. It’s what will let you know how things are moving at any given time without falling into micromanagement.
Here’s our formula:
- Break down quarterly goals into monthly goals and then weekly goals.
- An important note here: progress can be a goal, just be sure to benchmark the amount of progress you want to achieve and use that as the goal.
- Define KPIs to track during Quarterly planning meetings.
- First, focus is on what moves the needle revenue-wise.
- Second, focus on forward-looking progress.
- Third, be sure KPI ownership is assigned. Absolutely key to know who is responsible for improving the metric and reporting it.
- Agile Scrum methodology framework for tackling our goals.
- One week sprints, with daily or bi-weekly standups, depending on your team.
- Project completion and KPI advances measured.
- Monthly review of KPIs
- Results comparison against our monthly plan
- Previous month comparison
- Previous quarter comparison
- Previous year and quarter if the information is attainable
This formula will not guarantee results but will ensure that you can understand what’s happening, how things are moving, and help you react appropriately.
The true key for this to help you boost your team’s performance is consistency, which we’ll dig into next.
Consistency is not about doing things, but about doing things right.
Setting a structure in place is of no consequence unless there’s follow-thru. Remote managers must be aware that to run high performing teams, they must consistently review goal progress, KPIs, and initiative completion.
Again, it might sound simple, but in the middle of the trenches, managers might be careless about a KPI that went unreported, or a delayed initiative or a half-baked goal.
Be strict with your direct reports; do not be afraid to remind them of the importance of meetings, goals, and KPIs for the overall progress of the area. Tackle problems directly. If there is any inconsistency or low performance, don’t wait for a second reading, ask questions, and find the reason why.
Always go over with communication.
Communication – this might be overstated in the office world, but in a remote setting, it’s a pillar to ensure performance.
In short: overcommunicate, overcommunicate, overcommunicate.
Don’t be afraid to over-explain things and constantly ask if what you’re talking about is clear or if they need further clarification. Ask your direct reports to do the same.
Don’t let significant issues pass; if you identify a rough edge on the team, call it out immediately and talk about it. Those tend to grow underneath the surface and turn into bigger issues if not tended to quickly.
Remember that remote communication skips a lot of body language, which can lead to misunderstandings. Assume that everything said is in the best intentions.
Communication goes beyond verbal communication; it also means using and updating the calendar, project management, and chat systems regularly.
Here are some examples on our formula:
- Team members should consistently add events – be that a meeting or some deep work time – to their calendars, and keep them updated.
- Use the internal chat system’s status to signal when they’re busy, vacationing, or sick.
- Update project management tools on initiative status and progress.
Next-up: Remote Managers Series Part 3 – Planning for success with remote teams.
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