5 Tips for providing better feedback to remote workers

September 29th, 2020

The ability to consistently provide useful feedback is critical for personal and professional improvement. However, the shift from in-person discussions to digital communications takes some getting used to. For companies that had previously been slow to implement remote work programs for their staff, the sudden transition has put them under even greater pressure.

The first thing business leaders need to consider is that remote work is here to stay. Remote work will persist long after the pandemic is gone, so rather than viewing it as an inconvenience, its short- and long-term benefits must be recognized. These benefits can and must be applied in your feedback loops. Here are five proven digital ways to deliver valuable feedback to your remote teams:

1. Establish casual check-ins

For some, remote work is a dream come true. For others, the lack of human connection makes them feel lonely and undervalued. This is why it’s just as important to casually check in with your staff as it is to have a structured and formal program for providing feedback. Relaxed conversations let your remote workers experience a semblance of normalcy and help them adjust to the situation.

These seemingly insignificant interactions help people open up, making two-way communication more effective. Something as simple as a dedicated Slack channel for non-work topics can be a good place to do check-ins.

2. Be compassionate

Proponents of remote work trumpet it as a solution for helping employees achieve better work-life balance. However, this is not always the case. For example, some remote workers have a hard time trying to focus if they have children at home or they don’t have a dedicated space to work.

Given how sudden and disruptive the transition has been for many, it’s important for supervisors to take their subordinates’ situations into consideration when providing performance feedback. Above all, they need to let their remote workers know they’re on the same team.

3. Leverage video conferencing

Effective feedback is built on trust and respect, which are much harder to foster when you’re only relying on emails or phone calls. This is because much of what comprises human communications is nonverbal. This makes video calls especially valuable when discussing sensitive matters, as these preserve visual cues like facial expressions and body language.

A video conference is not quite the same as a face-to-face meeting, but it’s easily the next best thing. However, do keep in mind that some people still don’t feel very comfortable doing video calls or have limited internet bandwidth, so you’ll need to adjust accordingly.

4. Provide different types of feedback

Some feedback should be actionable, meaning that remote workers can immediately envision real-world scenarios and apply it to their daily routines. Other feedback is corrective in nature, and it should always be given privately unless it applies to everyone on the team. But not all feedback needs to be actionable — it’s just as important to recognize achievement and use praise to boost the morale of your remote workforce.

Whenever you provide feedback, remember that some people might focus only on the positive parts, while for others, only the negative parts may resonate. Sending a follow-up email that emphasizes all the key points discussed can help ensure things don’t get lost due to selective hearing.

5. Lead with the desired outcome

Employees who feel appreciated and useful are more engaged, which means they will always want to find new ways to improve. Feedback is critical for both their professional and personal growth. At the same time, no one wants to be blindsided by critical feedback. In these trying times, that’s likely to encourage people to react defensively.

One of the most effective ways to provide important feedback is to talk about the desired outcomes of the business and then telling employees what they’re
doing right — and what they can do better — in that regard. Setting the context eliminates the element of surprise and helps maintain a positive tone.

Cutting Edge Network Technologies provides managed IT and cloud computing services that empower your remote employees to work better. Contact us today to talk about your IT needs.

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