Managing a remote team can be a challenge. You have to ensure that your team members can perform their tasks effectively despite all the distractions of working from home.
If you’re reading this article, you yourself might have already been working from home for some time and also need help with employee performance issues. While some remote workers thrive in this environment, others cannot perform according to expectations. Whether you’re facing productivity or logistical issues, we will give you a roadmap towards improved employee happiness and increased productivity.
Read on to know what you can do to deal with employee performance issues within your remote team.
1. Create a supportive environment
Over the past few years, we've learned that we cannot always attribute employee shortcomings to a lack of effort or passion for the job. Some employees might be dealing with personal issues or are struggling to adjust to a home working environment. Others might be afraid to ask for help, whether work-related or personal. In either case, you need to create an environment where your team members feel that you’ve got their back.
Here are some steps you can take to create a supportive environment:
If your business does not offer paid time off (PTO), it might be time to look into offering it. Allowing your employees to take paid vacation and sick days will help them relax, recover from the daily grind, and focus on personal wellness.
Respond to questions from team members, no matter how trivial they may seem. An employee may hesitate to ask for help out of fear of looking incompetent. You help them increase their knowledge and confidence when you answer their questions.
Ensure that your employees have the tools that they need to perform their tasks.
Conduct one-on-one meetings. According to Hypercontext’s State of High Performing Teams Report, when managers have one-on-ones with their team members, they’re 1.5X more likely to retain their entire team.
Many other factors contribute to employee performance issues, some of which aren’t within the employee's control. Creating a supportive environment targets these potential root causes.
2. Have an open line of communication
Creating a supportive working environment creates an open line of communication among your employees. Open communication is even more crucial in ensuring that all tasks are completed accurately and on time in a remote work environment. It also plays a crucial role in supporting underperforming team members.
Here’s how you can ensure that open line of communication:
Your remote work set-up likely has a messaging platform for its employees. Many clients, B2B contacts, and investors can reach out to you. So, let your employees freely reach out to you as well.
Set up a one-on-one meeting with underperforming employees. A 30-minute catch-up is usually enough to pinpoint the root cause of the employee’s productivity shortcomings.
Practice writing better. Structured thoughts and feedback will help convey your expectations to the employee more clearly.
Having an open line of communication is the on-site equivalent of leaving your office door open. Your underperforming employees may be afraid to ask for help for fear of being judged. Have your lines open to ensure they get the help they need.
3. Ask open questions
When you conduct a one-on-one meeting with an underperforming employee, avoid asking questions that seem to put the blame squarely on them. Questions like “Why are you like this?” put them on the spot and make them uncomfortable and defensive throughout the discussion.
Try to make the conversation as unstructured as possible instead of sticking to a set of guide questions. Asking open-ended questions based on your team member’s responses will help you break through the ice and give you a more accurate overall picture of their working environment.
For instance, you can start with a specific incident that reflects poorly on the employee’s performance. You need to tell the employee that you are not out to get them. Instead, you have to reassure them that you’re just focusing on what happened. You can ask the employee to recall the incident from their point of view, then try to see it from their perspective.
This practice will give you a more balanced view of employee performance issues. It can also help you perform root cause analysis and create a reasonable action plan that the employee can follow to get back on track.
and customer-facing workers to be as much part of knowledge sharing activities.
Regardless of the role, employees will have access to the intranet via desktop, laptop, or mobile. If you take advantage of your Intranet’s newsfeed, you can build a community where your employees can keep up with the latest trends in retail. It also provides workers with the freedom to join in with the discussions, questions, and blogs posted on the newsfeed.
4. Give the employees tools to improve performance
One of the reasons your employee could be performing poorer than expected is because they may lack access to essential tools and software. As a manager or business owner, you may not have enough knowledge about your employees’ equipment and software requirements.
So how would you know what tools your employee will need?
Most remote teams use a messaging platform like Slack, video conferencing software such as Zoom, cloud storage like Google Drive, or a data repository like Jiro or GitHub.
You can ask your team members about their daily tasks and their tools to perform those activities for task-specific software. If you find that your team is using the free version of Canva to create marketing materials, it might be better to get licenses for Adobe image-editing software and its wide range of features.
Consult with your friends and peers who are experts on the subject matter. Any good account executive will say that CRMs are essential for nurturing client relationships, but you will need to ask about the best sales CRM for your business size and niche.
Of course, you need to provide your team with company laptops, hard drives, and printers. In this case, you’ll need to coordinate with your in-house IT team to provide and deploy any machines that your team will need.
Investing in tools and resources for your team is investing in your team’s future. By eliminating the bottleneck caused by the lack of tools, your team will blaze through their tasks and deliver quality output.
intranet is built for employees to connect. So even if you have a customer query that involves multiple departments, Intranet helps you facilitate a smooth cross-departmental collaboration. It centralizes the processes in an easily accessible virtual space.
5. Build a culture of accountability
Sometimes, you need to know when to play “Good Cop, Bad Cop”. Even if your team struggles with personal issues, they still need to finish their deliverables on time. By building a culture of accountability, you can help ensure that your team takes ownership of their processes, successes, and mistakes.
Here are the critical steps toward establishing accountability within your team:
You need to deploy a task management tool or a progress tracker for remote set-ups. You may use free tracker solutions such as Trello and Asana. These tools give you an overview of what tasks are in progress, pending approval, and pending someone else’s input, allowing you to pinpoint the root cause of a task’s delay.
During one-on-one meetings with underperforming employees, they may mention a colleague who they feel is holding up task progress. In cases like this, approach the mentioned employee and corroborate their statements.
Let employees know the gravity of not following deadlines. You may use a Gantt chart to show task dependencies and illustrate how a delay in one deliverable can derail the entire project. You may also show the financial impact of such delays.
In short, let your employees know that it’s their fault they don’t meet expectations if they consistently don’t meet them despite all the help you give. Harsh as it is, this culture of accountability is vital to “keeping score” of how many strikes an employee has and will encourage employees to do better.
That will also allow you to, without bias, write reports that will merit sanctions for employees in question.
6. Create a system of performance reviews
In line with building a culture of accountability is implementing performance reviews to assess employee performance objectively. That allows you to discover and reward your top performers and identify team members who need to improve.
When done right, performance reviews will show who’s underperforming and the areas employees need to do better in. Here’s how you can conduct a performance review:
The performance review should assess employee traits such as respect for co-workers, innovation and resourcefulness, work attitude, etc. You may do this with a number system rating each category or using an essay format.
Conduct performance reviews quarterly or monthly. That allows you to see movements in an employee’s performance.
You may notice various employee weaknesses that contribute to their employee performance issues. Performance reviews enable you to tag employees with their respective weaknesses, allowing you to approach them uniquely and have better one-on-one discussions with them.
Dealing with employee performance issues is not as hard as it sounds. All you need to do is create a supportive environment and have an open line of communication with your employees. Sometimes, they just need some help with their struggles. Ask open-ended questions to allow them to express whatever they have in mind, too. Also, give your employees the resources they need to work.
However, there are times when employees just don’t care. In these cases, you’ll need sanctions in place. Build a culture of accountability and implement quarterly performance reviews to seek out individuals who aren’t improving. These measures will be a solid basis for when you possibly fire them.
Following these tips will help you deal with employee performance issues in your remote team setup. Ultimately, they will remove any bottlenecks that impede your company’s growth.
Sam is part of the marketing team at Mailshake. Sam’s goal is to inspire people to not just “hang in there” but to thrive. When Sam's not publishing or promoting new content, you can find him playing sports and cooking up a storm in the kitchen.