I’m a Remote and Hybrid Management Coach — Here Are 5 Ways To Make Your Virtual Feedback Better
Feedback is important in any job, but it can sometimes be challenging to do remotely. When you’re giving remote performance reviews, here are five do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.
Without sitting near the boss all day, it can be harder for many employees to know what their manager thinks of their performance. Remote communication, with its emphasis on the written, lends itself to both over and under-emphasizing critiques.
Over-emphasizing happens because emails from your boss with commentary on your latest proposal can be taken out of context or taken too personally. Under-emphasizing happens because there may not be as many opportunities to give immediate feedback.
If you notice a pattern of behavior with your direct report, good or bad, it’s your duty as a manager to let them know ASAP. If you thought a piece of work was good, be sure to say so, even if you sent over opportunities for improvement. Context matters!
Be careful with written feedback, particularly on sensitive subjects. Most people remember criticism much more than praise, and while your job as a manager is to get the best out of your team, part of that best comes from having a team with healthy self-esteem. If your written communication to a direct report has negative feedback, pause before sending to ensure you’re conveying it with the right level of “opportunity for improvement” rather than outright criticism.
Related to the above, we can’t help but let our day-to-day lives trickle into our communication with our coworkers. But if you’re in a bad mood or feeling triggered by something, try to take a step back before providing feedback. You don’t want to color your feedback with negative energy that might stop the person from hearing the opportunity embedded in the feedback.
It is hard to be a remote manager! And if an employee is struggling, you as the manager might be contributing. Were the goals clear to you? Were they clear to the employee? Were they reasonable? Transparent goals are a key element of effective remote management. Any time those goals aren’t met is an opportunity to reflect on your process to make sure everyone is set up for success.
Humans have been communicating using non-verbal cues for thousands of years. In a remote world, video isn’t necessarily better at communicating these cues. It’s hard to look at a list of goals and progress AND at your employee’s face at the same time. Potential technical drawbacks, like a bad connection or poor lighting, can also make it harder to communicate what you really mean. At the very least, these review conversations must happen over the phone — where you can hear the stressors and moments of emotion in each others’ voices and use those to modulate your discussion.
This article was written by a Fairygodboss Contributor.
McKenna is a remote and hybrid management author and coach, having spent years working in global organizations, managing remote teams around the world. Her passion is helping people harness empathy to better connect with their colleagues to drive success, making their management skills as effective in person as from 6,000 miles away. Follow her on LinkedIn for more actionable ways to succeed in remote-first work culture.
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