Ah, performance reviews. The dreaded yet inevitable yearly staple of corporate America. Analyzing how well your employees are working can be difficult, and doing so with remote employees has no shortage of additional challenges. You’re not there to see them working in the office every day, so mentally, it can be hard to picture their contribution, no matter how significant. And while you’re (hopefully) communicating with your remote employees effectively, you don’t have the benefit of those informal check-ins that happen when you run into each other around the office. But fear not, as we’ve scoured expert opinions and compiled a list of ways you can effectively evaluate your remote employees.
With traditional employees, when you sit down to do performance reviews you may recall that they get to the office early every morning and stay late. With remote ones, it’s far harder to measure what type of time they’re putting into the company. You’ll have to find another way to measure their contribution. That can be challenging, but it’s ultimately a good thing. After all, presence in an office doesn’t always translate to output. An employee who shows up an hour early every day could still spend half the day taking Buzzfeed quizzes. By focusing on what actually matters, how the employee is furthering the mission of the company, and forgetting antiquated metrics like time logged in the office, you can more effectively evaluate a remote employee.
In order to get the most out of any employee, it’s important that you clearly define expectations and communicate to them how you define success in their position. Maybe that means bringing in x-number of new clients each quarter. Maybe it means attracting new followers on social media or maintaining relationships with existing clients. Regardless of the job, one thing’s for sure: If an employee doesn’t know what is expected of them, they’re probably not going to exceed your expectations. Once those goals are communicated, you need to ensure they’re what you’re measuring against. Create a working evaluation that includes each expectation, or KPI, you set for your employee. Think of the rubrics teachers give out to explain how they grade projects. It may seem elementary, but the clearer you are about what you expect, the better an employee is able to do what you want or even exceed your expectations.
Self evaluations can be especially useful for remote employees, who don’t have the same opportunities to update you as traditional employees. Self evaluations could reveal work you didn’t know your employee was doing, challenges they were facing, areas in which they need extra help or successes you were unaware of. These can be especially helpful when paired with peer evaluations. Asking employees not only to rate their own success but discuss how they interact with each other can give you additional perspective.
Give Regular Feedback
In order to successfully evaluate remote workers, it is critical that you give feedback early and often. A yearly performance review should not be the first time they’re hearing your opinion. It’s certainly a good time to address concerns, but you can’t expect an employee to do what you want if you don’t communicate it effectively. With a remote employee, this can look like setting up Skype calls to give suggestions, making edits, and addressing overall concerns as soon as they pop up.
Measure Against the Expectations You Set
It can be hard to know where to start when judging a remote worker’s contribution. A good place to start is by outlining the specific goals you set for employees and measuring to what degree they met them. Of course you’ll have to take into account how realistic the goals were, and whether there were unexpected roadblocks; after all, it’s only fair that you judge against the expectations you set.
Consider Asking Workers to Evaluate Each Other
Having co-workers provide feedback on each other can be extremely useful, as it allows you to see other perspectives on the employee to supplement your own. This is particularly useful in the case of remote employees, who you have limited interaction with. It can give you a better sense of how employees interact with each other, and highlight strengths and weaknesses that you may not be aware of.
It can be hard to identify an employee’s contributions when you don’t see them sitting across the room working every day. But you need to trust that they are in fact working. Micromanaging or making employees prove that they’re logging hours doesn’t benefit them, you or the business.
Evaluating remote employees can be challenging, to say the least. When you’re not interacting on a daily basis, it can be harder to see where a worker is succeeding and where they need to improve; however, by communicating early and often, setting and measuring against clear goals, and having a little bit of faith, you can evaluate your remote employees just as effectively as traditional ones. Got all that? No worries, here’s a summary: