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Managing staff performance virtually

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It’s no secret that moving to a fully online model has meant that most leaders have had to completely relearn how to manage their staff effectively. According to recent reports, managers are struggling to come to terms with trusting their employees away from the office and are at risk of falling victim to micromanagement or subconsciously promoting presenteeism.

But as we know, heavy-handed management styles are more than likely to cause severe disruption to the harmony of your team. From a decrease in productivity, poor mental health and reduced creativity, micromanagement is a sure-fire way to lose staff members quickly.

Nevertheless, nobody said leading a team online was easy, and many managers are having to do so with little to no training. To get your leadership style spot-on, especially if your company is planning on spending more time working from home than in the office, here are four key points that will help you to oversee and guide your employees efficiently.


Keep up with regular internal meetings

According to a recent survey, 89 per cent of employees say that video conferencing helps them feel connected to their workforce, with 94 per cent agreeing that it increases productivity. It’s crucial that as we become further accustomed to working from home for good that internal meetings, either as a group or on a 1:1 basis, don’t dissipate.

Not only do regular meetings ensure that communication is upheld and remains strong, even when the team could potentially be spread across the country, it gives space for a good work culture and allows leaders to keep an eye on staff progress without the need to constantly check in.

Beware of having too many meetings, however. While there’s no magic number, experts suggest that meetings should be kept to under 20 minutes with a strict agenda to ensure they’re kept succinct and don’t eat into teams’ productivity.


Don’t get hooked on time spent

While there are plenty of apps or pieces of technology that can help you track the hours your employees are spending on tasks each day, this isn’t necessarily the most effective way to measure productivity.

Most of us work an eight-hour day, but there’s plenty of research to suggest we’re certainly not working to our best for all that time. Instead of focusing on how much time an employee is at work for, look at how effectively they are meeting objectives, hitting KPIs or completing daily tasks.

Not forgetting to mention, by encouraging the importance of time spent over productivity, you may enter the dangerous territory of promoting presenteeism. In 2020 alone, nearly nine in ten employees noticed increased levels of presenteeism in their company. And this is undoubtedly linked with the rapid increase in reports of mental ill-health in the workplace as well as a decline in job satisfaction.


Equip your employees to succeed

Even 16 months into the pandemic, not all employees have access to the correct tools to do their job to the best of their abilities from home. Only 53 per cent of staff have been financially supported by employers to be able to afford proper work equipment.

For leaders to successfully manage, teams need to be able to successfully work without any major hurdles. Not only will a lack of technical equipment support create unnecessary barriers for employees, which will undoubtedly reduce their job satisfaction levels, but it also opens problematic issues around socio-economic divides.

Ensure you are putting all team members on a level playing field before jumping in and becoming concerned with productivity levels.


Learn to have trust

Trust creates trust. It may seem obvious, but it is a regular narrative heard by recruiters that the candidates are seeking a new opportunity because they want to feel trusted.

It can feel incredibly scary to give portions of control away to employees but without doing so, you run the risk of seriously damaging productivity and workplace happiness.

One survey by PwC found that those employees who reported working in a ‘trusting’ environment were 76 per cent more engaged and 74 per cent said they felt less stressed. And in tandem with these findings, those employees who feel trusted cite feeling more confident in themselves and their colleagues.

Getting used to managing a team remotely will take time, and some of the process will be trial and error. Nevertheless, by switching your focus to output rather than input as well as practicing a more empathetic and trusting approach towards your staff, you’re on your way to leading a first-class team.


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