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When You Lead A Remote Team, Your Feedback Must Be Shared Immediately After A Problem or Just Before

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

When leading a remote team, any feedback you delay is inferior feedback. You would think the opposite: Things are more relaxed now, and I can let him know next week, in our one-on-one meeting. I don’t want to create stress over the weekend.

Wrong. Once-a-year, once-a-quarter, or even once-a-week feedback is all ineffective. Why? Because when time passes after you notice a problem and you delay the feedback, everyone gets nervous and your suggestions gets stale or even rotten. You are eroding trust at a fast pace.

Feedback Delays Create Greater Anxiety When You’re Remote In a remote setting, a delay automatically raises everyone’s anxiety level, even more than it would if you officed in the same location and saw them informally, face to face.

  1. You wonder before the feedback: How will this person take it? Will it sour their mood and get them upset with me, especially because we’re not face to face?

  2. Employees wonder after the feedback: Why didn’t you just tell me when it happened? Why is this conversation such a big deal? I guess you didn’t feel comfortable just telling me…I   guess we’re not all that close… I need to be careful as I’m not sure what this boss (or co-worker) is thinking

For both people, the brain easily goes into fear mode. A fight-or-flight response robs your ability to help the person improve and robs their motivation to truly learn from the experience. And such stress reactions in the brain are more probable when you remotely work from the others on your team.

Overdeliver with feedback timeliness to create trust Trust is the magic bullet, and honest, timely communication is the number one way to build trust. Trust that’s built in a time of conflict, stress, or challenging goals is trust that can be counted on again and again. Shallow social niceties in good times don’t stretch the trust muscle at all and can’t be counted on for future challenges.

Two best times to give feedback In most situations, an immediate phone call is best. Emphasize what you want to see changed for next time. The other best time is just before the next time when you can easily focus on the desired behavior and share how the problem behavior didn’t work as well last time. You are motivating them to get it right this time, and they’re not likely to become stressed at future-focused feedback. If there will be a long time period between the problem incident and their next opportunity, be sure to share the feedback right away and prevent the erosion of trust that can occur if you “drop it” later.

These are hard habits to get into, but the best thing for you is how this approach to feedback actually creates trust and credibility you can use for all aspects of your team pursuits!

Read The Feedback Imperative for more tips and strategies for leading remotely

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