How to Give Feedback to Remote Employees
Updated: Nov 3, 2020
How it’s different When you give feedback, it may at first take you a little longer than with others because there is a lack of face-to-face communication. The trust that you build will pay off, but you may notice that it requires a little more attention than when you talk to people in the hallway on a day-to-day basis. If you do have personal contact in the same city—even if it’s infrequent—be sure to plan dinner, lunch, or extended meetings so you can get to know them better, and use those opportunities for providing some everyday feedback. Allocate time to solicit their feedback to you, and let them know that you value their suggestions.
Keep up the interaction The guidelines for everyday feedback are really the same for out-of-town people as for face-to-face connections, so don’t let these folks slip away and feel “out of sight, out of mind.” Send them short, frequent notes and plenty of positive messages. Call to get more input than usual from them. You will find that they will be very happy to have the increased communication initiated by you.
Tracking what people are doing You may wonder how you can track what they are doing. This can be part of the feedback process, in which you explore with them how they are handling their assignments, and you can offer feedback on the approaches they describe. For instance, if they are contracting with suppliers in a foreign city, ask them how that relationship is going, how they set up the arrangements with them, and how they’re managing the contractors. You may want to give some feedback, both positive and improvement feedback, on the examples they give you and how they are performing in general.
It’s like a job interview question This is like a behavioral event interview that you might conduct with a job candidate. You’re asking them to tell stories about what they have actually done. But, in the case of remote employees, you are using their descriptive stories as your observations of their behavior. Of course, you’ll want to have other performance parameters: metrics and input from customers, colleagues, and other managers.
Feedback brings you closer This can work quite well and the feedback can be the basis for better business conversations with people in remote locations. They will feel closer and not so isolated from the main office or from wherever you are.
Read The Feedback Imperative for more information on how to give great feedback!