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Productivity / Processes

Managing the performance of remote employees

Managing remote employees is certainly an adjustment for many but is also a component of business today that’s essential to master. Kevin Mallen shares his three top tips for doing so.

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The days where business owners share a workspace with all of their staff are well behind us. Now, it is a rare workplace that does not have some level of remote working, whether that is a local staff working from home or a freelancer working in a different country.

In this article, I’ll discuss three approaches I’ve found most effective when managing remote employees.

1. Communicate regularly

With virtual workers, there is a temptation to assume that everything is going well unless you hear otherwise. Without the advantage of working in the same space however, you must make particular efforts to keep in contact with your staff to identify any performance issues before they surface. Take advantage of the technology available to you and ensure you have regular video calls or instant messaging chats scheduled to keep the communication lines open.

If you’re working with an overseas worker or freelancer, it’s best to over-communicate initially to set expectations, get over any cultural differences, and ensure they fully understand their responsibilities and role within your business.

"Sometimes there is a need to look at the big picture and remember that if someone is reaching their targets, it doesn't actually matter when they are working or how they go about completing particular tasks. "

2.  Set measurable targets

Keeping track of key performance indicators are important in any setting; however, they’re critical with remote workers as it’s tougher to gauge output when they’re not right next to you. Spending some time and energy in the beginning to create targets will make reviews and management a much smoother process as the year progresses.

I can’t emphasise enough the need to make sure the targets you set at the start of the review period actually reflect what you will actually be able to measure. A focus on quantifiable targets, preferably ones the staff member has had a hand in developing, is invaluable.

3.  Trust your staff

Trusting in your workers is another important element for performance management of remote staff. Of course, I’m not suggesting that you keep your head in the sand about issues that may arise, but without a positive relationship between you, managing both performance and output will be extremely challenging.

Sometimes there is a need to look at the big picture and remember that if someone is reaching their targets, it doesn’t actually matter when they are working or how they go about completing particular tasks. A focus on deliverables and timeliness, for example, is a lot more beneficial than ensuring your staff has logged on at a particular time each day.

Awareness of your management style and how it may have to change to accommodate a remote workforce is really important.

Managing remote employees is certainly an adjustment for many but is also a component of business today that’s essential to master. I am confident, however, that the effective use of communication, measurable targets and trusting in your staff will establish a well functioning remote working environment and make performance management a pain-free process.

Do you have freelancers or remote employees working in your business? Share your experience and how you best manage their performance.

Kevin Mallen

is the Sales & Marketing Director for Virtual Coworker. He connects qualified Virtual Assistants and Web Developers from the Philippines with Australian Businesses.

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