The importance of human connection in remote performance management

With more than 20 million people vaccinated in the UK, the end of lockdown 3.0 seems close at hand. Despite this, it is clear that our workplace will remain either a hybrid or a remote environment for the foreseeable future. Almost a year after the first lockdown, we still see some managers struggling to get to grips with the right virtual people management approach. Common issues range from micromanaging to a lack of clear expectations and unsuitable tasks for the current environment. So, how can we ensure good performance management practices within a hybrid/remote workplace?

Well, in our latest e-Book on virtual people and performance management, we explore the PERFORM model. This model outlines how managers can navigate the virtual world using standard good people management practices to ensure the wellbeing and productivity of their staff.

The PERFORM model stands for:

  • People First
  • Expectations
  • Regular Reviews
  • Feedback & Development
  • Ownership Culture
  • Recognise
  • Manage Performance

People First

In a series of blogs, we will be exploring each aspect of the PERFORM model in detail. The first aspect of the PERFORM model involves us being people-centric. To get the most out of our people, we need to build a relationship of trust and get to know them as individuals. Where we could perhaps get away with using a ‘one size fits all’ transactional management style in the days of the office, hybrid and remote working requires something less visible or tangible; it requires empathy, flexibility and trust.

A more holistic management approach

Previously, knowing that someone has caring responsibilities or a passion for running may have seemed like idle conversation. However, in this age of remote performance management, it is the key to remaining connected with a more holistic management style. We have learned to accept that aspects of people such as family and hobbies are more entwined within day-to-day work. Historically, we may have compartmentalised personal and worklife conversational topics. Now, we have permission; if not a responsibility to see more of the whole person.

Certainly, this isn’t about prying but about accepting that we all have priorities outside of work. It’s also about showing that we know and understand them. Fortunately, from our recent survey, where 118 people took part, the majority of respondents identified that the following behaviours were more important in a remote working environment; frequent check-ins (82%), recognition and praise (58%), and taking a personal interest in the individual (57%). Therefore, most managers undoubtedly recognise the importance of a holistic management approach. However, what happens when the relationship deteriorates, perhaps due to a lack of trust?

The importance of Trust in remote performance management

Remote Performance Management

Trust equates to our level of confidence in someone, in their integrity, values, and abilities. It is ubiquitous but invisible, slightly intangible and makes a huge difference to morale, motivation and performance. When we think of someone we trust there is almost certainly lots of extra energy attached to these relationships – goodwill, happiness, freedom. If we contrast that with someone we don’t trust – we tend to be wary of them which means we become more self-conscious about our behaviour, we are less open and not as relaxed. Take a moment to flip this round to someone who is working for you. Certainly, the extent to which they feel trusted by you will impact directly on their ability and inclination to perform at their best.

If we shift this perspective to a virtual working environment, where a high trust relationship already exists, the transition could be relatively easy. Alternatively, where a relationship of low trust exists, concerns are likely to be magnified without the placebo reassurance of being able to physically see people throughout the working day. Therefore, it’s clear that trust is the foundation of effective remote performance management. So, how do we build trust?

We can build trust by listening effectively, demonstrating humility and being open and honest. As virtual people managers, it is helpful to lead with trust by making statements that emphasise the importance of outputs over presenteeism. Or by simply telling people that we trust them to do the best they can. From this starting point, we can personalise our interactions with our team members. To understand more around how you can build trust as a remote manager, why not listen to the HR Uprising podcast on the topic?

Thrive in a remote environment by being human

In conclusion, remote people managers can thrive by building on their natural human connections. By understanding our people, and encouraging a foundation of trust, we can facilitate a positive work culture. With high trust and positive connections, we encourage goodwill, loyalty and good performance from our people. Certainly, people within a positive work culture, where they feel valued, will be more likely to go the extra mile for the business.

Remote Performance Management Resources

Part of our ethos is to help build a better workplace for people, whatever their location. We achieve this through great performance management software, the HR Uprising Podcast, and a variety of free thought leadership resources. Therefore, if you would like to learn more about this topic, you can find some additional resources below.

We also have a team of organisational development consultants who are on-hand to help meet your needs for culture change. If you would like to find out more about this service, why not get in touch by contacting us here.

Remote Learning Suite

E-Book: Virtual People and Performance Management

The HR Uprising Podcast: Virtual Management PERFORM Podcast Short Series Playlist

Infographic: The PERFORM Model