Employee reviews can be uncomfortable, especially when they involve pointing out areas where small business employees need to improve performance. To be meaningful, managers need to spend time evaluating team members, identifying strengths and weaknesses and also considering what the company can do to help if areas need improvement. For example, managers need to decide if someone will benefit by taking classes, online or out of the office, or working more closely with more experienced team members.
Someone might even need new or more technology to help improve their efficiency. The front desk coordinator at Reavis Rehab found it challenging to answer incoming calls while she was inputting patient information at the computer. Also when she was away from her desk and a call came in, she had to search for a free phone. By providing a wireless headset, she could be both hands free and mobile to take a call wherever she was in the office, which improved efficiency.
Remote work makes reviews more challenging
A review doesn’t have to be an annual rite. It can be periodic or the result of an event. Millennials want it frequently. A study entitled “Is There Really a Generational Divide at Work?” finds that 42% of millennials want feedback every week, which is twice the percentage of every other generation.
Regardless of the frequency and tone – formal or informal – of the performance review, employee assessments become more of a challenge when employees work remotely. You don’t have the same opportunity to overhear someone on the phone with a customer, for example, when they are 15 or 1500 miles away from the office. Also remote employees may get their work done on time, but they may be less collaborative in their interactions with other team members.
Here are some suggestions to help ensure small business employee evaluations are beneficial for both the company and the employee working remotely at home, at a co-working space that answers your small business need for a regional office or even at a customer site.
Encourage for self-evaluation
Self-evaluations provide remote employees (as well those working in the office) with an opportunity to think about their performance and what areas need improvement. They open the lines of communication when there are misunderstandings. Self-evaluations also provide remote employees with an opportunity to consider what they need from management to be more effective.
Evaluate attitude as well as results
The tendency may be to review remote employees simply for the results they achieve in their work, whether in compiling financial reports, creating marketing materials or closing sales. However, behavioral or attitudinal factors are just as important in terms of maintaining the small business culture or team spirit. Reliability, contributing to meetings, willingness to take on additional work or fill in for someone in a pinch should be taken into consideration during a review.
Ask other team members
Get others involved in the evaluation. Find out what others think about interactions with remote employees and if they feel they are pulling their weight. The goal is to gather input based on day-to-day working relationships.
Conduct review with video
If it’s not practical to meet in person, employ video conferencing. It enhances communication through the visual cues that otherwise are lost when a conversation is over the phone. Use a headset to ensure that background noise doesn’t interfere with the communication or require talking louder and potentially being overheard.
Evaluating remote employees may require additional effort. However, whatever extra process and time it takes is necessary to make sure remote employees deliver needed results and also feel engaged. By giving feedback to remote employees you ensure them out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind.