Since the COVID-19 global pandemic, the world has seen unparalleled rates of remote working for many different industries. It is essential that companies adapt in order to remain viable in the market. Yet, managers and employers must also adapt their behavior for the new normal.
This Forbes Magazine article, “Five Tips for Providing Feedback to Remote Employees,” by Chuck Ainsworth explores five essential practices for managers and organizational leaders to provide feedback virtually. In order to “provide challenge and support in a way that will enhance psychological safety, foster trust,” and have the impact leaders intend, Ainsworth recommends these tips:
- First, connect. Be human. Employees are experiencing high levels of stress and a full range of emotions. Be transparent with how challenging circumstances are impacting you. The author recommends,” before jumping to give direction or feedback on an employee’s performance, ask how they are doing” and mean it. When people connect on a human level it, “reduces threat response and encourages neuroplasticity [both which are] critical fundamentals for healthy teams, creative problem-solving, innovation and sustainable performance, particularly under stress.”
- Keep it timely and bite-size. While working in this new context,” Focus on providing feedback that will help employees be successful over the next week or two, “rather than sharing feedback about the employee’s past year’s performance.” As a manager, the goal should be to communicate the specific behaviors that employees should repeat.
- Be selective with your feedback. Remember that your employees are stressed and tired. Many are navigating multiple roles such as parenting, “playing ‘teacher,’ navigating new financial concerns…worrying about at-risk family members” and trying to perform well professionally. Ainsworth recommends a 4:1 ratio of “encouraging versus challenging critical feedback.” Ask yourself as the manager if now is the appropriate time to give certain feedback. Consider whether the feedback will actually matter twelve months from now. If it won’t matter, now is not the time to share.
- Avoid hit-and-run feedback at all costs. Be sure that feedback involves a dialogue between both you as manager and the employee. Ainsworth adds, “Ask [the employee] how you can be helpful to them this week and if there is any clarity you can provide.” Employees will notice their manager’s openness to feedback and will appreciate that “you consider it your job to help them be successful.”
- Get eyeball-to-eyeball. Joining with your staff periodically through videoconference help connect managers and employees more personally. Often, the quality of communication is enhanced, too.
These practices will help managers navigate the uncertainty of the future while working remotely and will develop “the kind of high-trust, agile team you need…[to be] more grounded, connected and ready to strive for the collective success of the team.”
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The DeBoer Fellowship develops change leaders across all sectors of Myanmar society. Through a multi-year training class and additional public programs, the DeBoer Fellowship serves Myanmar by helping to grow competent, compassionate, and ethical leaders. For more information about DeBoer Fellowship or to apply for the Fellowship, please visit: www.deboerfellowship.org.