Blog November 16, 2017

Evaluating remote workers

Why you shouldn't focus on results only

By Susanne Barth, Publications Manager  

Evaluating employees is not easy. Even with a performance measurement system in place there is space for subjectivity. Evaluating remote workers is still a bigger challenge. Not working together in the same office makes it difficult to observe behavior and to judge performance closely. So what should managers consider before evaluating remote employees? 

Here our recommendations:

1. Don’t neglect the behaviour

Remote managers can be tempted to focus on results only. But results can be achieved through unfair and disrespectful behaviour or by breaking rules. And this is not what you want to reward. So define criteria which help you to also evaluate behaviour (e.g. level of cooperation, supportiveness, conflict handling, mental stability etc.). You can also ask your remote workers to suggest criteria which they think helpful for their evaluation. Once you have chosen your criteria you have to apply them for all your team members. 

2. Collect feedback from several people

The success of a team depends on how good it works together (and also with other peers). This is why the contribution of an employee to the overall team atmosphere should be part of your evaluation. So don’t focus only on your relationship with the employee. Instead broaden your perspective by inviting more people for feedback.  

Here four steps to ask for peer feedback in a structured way:

1. Ask the employee to propose three - four colleagues he would like to receive feedback from.

2. Invite those colleagues to give their feedback in three categories:
“Start”, “Stop”, and “Continue”.
In each category they should mention behaviours that match the title. But add that the categories aren't mandatory. If there is for example nothing to “stop” with then this category remains blank.

3. Go through the feedbacks and deduce major takeaways.

4. Now you have a collection of behaviour-based feedback from several co-workers which you can use during the evaluation session.  

3. React quickly to a drop in performance

If you notice that a remote worker isn’t making any progress in his projects or that he avoids to share information then it’s time to react. Have a face-to-face conversation and make him clear that he is not meeting expectations. This is also a chance for him to get back on track before it’s too late. This is also important for the rest of the team which can easily get frustrated about this non-performing colleague. So don’t wait until a formal evaluation session but interfere real time.

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