May 15, 2020

Six ways HR can build a feedback culture with remote teams

As companies prepare for the return to work, many business leaders are planning to shift previously on-site employees to remote work on a permanent basis. Staying connected with the remote workforce will be crucial to drive continued business performance in the future. 

Feedback becomes even more important when working remotely. Working from home is not a trend anymore, it’s here to stay. That’s why it’s crucial to regularly check-in with peers, understand how you can support them better from a distance and make sure that everyone stays aligned while working in their home office.

Working from home for an extended period of time has its benefits but it can also be stressful for the best of teams, thrusting HR into the spotlight. The solution is to stay connected and coordinated with one another as much as possible. Here’s what you can do to build a great feedback culture and make sure you’re moving the needle, even when your team is working remotely.

1. Set up a standard time for 1-on-1s

Giving and receiving feedback, tracking progress, and discussing productivity challenges are some of most effective ways to keep things moving in the right direction and keep people motivated. Managers should reach out to schedule 1:1s to go over such topics and employees shouldn’t shy away from taking the initiative, either. These less formal catch-ups should be encouraged between peers, too. Especially when working from home. Setting up 1:1s and making them regular will be critical for employee engagement and tracking goal progress. Having a set of predefined questions before the 1:1s could help guide the conversation. Some examples are:

  • What's one thing you're excited about?
  • What's one thing you're worried about?
  • What's one thing I can do better to help you with your job?

The consistency in questions makes it easy to prepare and track important changes in team engagement over time. If teams in your organization will be working remotely for a longer period of time, make sure to encourage weekly, if not even daily 1-1s with team leads and peers. 

2. Create a positive feedback habit

Positive feedback is a great motivator and essential for building team morale. Not being in the same environment physically doesn’t mean you can’t create a virtual environment in which your team can feel connected. Make sure to give your virtual team members positive feedback regularly and encourage peers to celebrate successes, even online. What we noticed was that the more people received praise notifications on team collaboration tools, the more likely they were to share praise with others. 

3. Keep teams aligned with OKRs and track progress

While working remotely, teams and managers need to communicate even more about who’s working on what, so people can pinpoint bottlenecks and share progress updates. This will ensure everybody owns their responsibilities and feels a shared sense of purpose. It is easier to disconnect from common goals while apart from one another for a longer period of time.

The right tool can help you create Objectives and Key Results, visualize how individuals and teams contribute to the overall organizational goals, share and track progress, and much more. Staying on top of objectives is one of the best ways to support performance and keep people moving in the right direction.

Even though employees might not be in the same place, that doesn’t mean that their professional development should seize either. Make sure to continue setting and tracking personal development goals as well as business ones.

4. Teach your team how to structure their feedback

Getting a message from your teammate saying, "You need to learn how to be more open to changing direction," can be taken in so many ways. Without being able to see facial expressions and body language it's hard to gauge the feeling behind this feedback. Likewise, without providing context and the right amount of details, your teammate's feedback doesn't provide enough information to come up with concrete next steps. 

Just because your people are remote doesn’t mean they shouldn’t also receive training on how to give and receive feedback. It’s especially important that remote teams learn how to use the right language when sharing feedback with each other. Also, facial expressions and body language have a far deeper impact on our understanding than we realize. Make sure your team has the tools they need to communicate their message effectively, avoiding potential misunderstandings and conflict.

5. Set up regular 360-degree feedback moments

Once your team is comfortable with these tips for sharing great feedback it's important that you actually encourage them to share feedback with each other regularly. Poor communication is one of the easiest pitfalls that can cause the downfall of a remote team.

6. Track employee engagement

Working from a distance can affect teams and individuals in different ways. Keep a pulse of remote team engagement. Encourage regular check-ins and conduct engagement surveys. 

People will be working from the home office more in years to come. It is up to employers to ensure they provide an environment where people clearly understand how their work contributes to the overall success of the business, and keep employees engaged through regular feedback.

Original article was written by Bas Kohnke and published on Glassdoor.


This post was originally published on Glassdoor, one of the world's largest job posting and recruiting sites.

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