Feedback is even more important when working remotely, but easier to forget. If managers don’t see their employees everyday, feedback and coaching can be easily overlooked. Don’t assume no news is good news. Without being able to gauge the facial expressions and body language of employees, keeping track of employee engagement and creating a team environment requires feedback even more than ever. Build a great feedback culture, even when your team is working across the globe, with these tips:
1. Set up a standard time for 1-on-1s
People may want feedback but may not want to disturb someone else from their work. If you can’t see when someone is going for a coffee break, you won’t know when they’re available. Help employees overcome this barrier by setting up standard 1-on-1 sessions during which feedback can be exchanged.
At Zapier, a company made up completely of remote workers, they scheduled monthly virtual 1-on-1s during which managers ask employees four standard questions: “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 him with your job,” and “what's one thing you can do better to improve at your job.” They explain that the consistency in questions makes it easy to prepare and track progress over time.
2. Have a positive feedback tradition
Positive feedback is a great motivator and essential for building team spirit. 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. One way to do this is by creating a slack channel for updates and positive recognition. When someone finishes a new feature or closes a sales deal they can inform the team and in turn your team members can react with emojis and words of encouragement.
3. Train everyone on the importance of written feedback and facial expressions
Just because your employees are remote doesn’t mean they shouldn’t also receive training on how to give and receive feedback. In fact, in this kind of team it’s even more important. Not being present in an office means that two people could have an argument via slack and their manager may never know. It’s especially important that remote employees learn how to use the right language. We may not realize it, but facial expressions and body language have a far deeper impact on our understanding than we realize. While it’s much better to give feedback face to face (even via Google Hangouts), if your employees choose to use a written format, make sure they have the tools they need to communicate their message effectively.
This article is part of a guide for HR about how to create a feedback culture.
HR Manager Handbook: Consolidating your feedback culture
Make the change stick