The 5 best tips to give remote workers feedback

young lady working on computer alone

So, you’re a leader looking to improve your communication skills to provide remote workers with quality feedback? Perfect. This is the article for you!

You are going to learn:

  • How remote workers productivity is linked to the feeling of happiness
  • How lack of engagement has an effect on employee turnover
  • The 5 best practices to give remote workers feedback.

Remote working has changed our job landscape, and a new environment requires a new management style. As managers, it is vital that you never lose sight of the mental health of your employee. How? Constantly doing pulse checks, and giving or receiving feedback to make sure progress is being made to reach goals. 

Why is feedback important for remote employees? Because receiving feedback is essential for employee motivation and happiness. A recent study conducted by Oxford University (2019) found that happy employees are 13% more productive. Pair this finding with a study by Gallup (2020), that found that remote workers who receive frequent feedback are more engaged and productive than in-house employees. That’s already reason enough to link productivity with personal motivation.

When an employee feels confident that their work is being appreciated, their opinions heard, and their self-development aspirations taken into account, performance is heightened. 

Remote workers and feedback

Remote workers already are more at risk to feel disconnected from the company and culture. Why? This is because disengaged employees lead to loss of productivity and higher turnover. On the contrary, employees that have healthy work relationships are 18% less likely to change jobs in the following year (CIPD, 2020). This is why it seems vital that managers don’t forget the importance of communication, constructive appreciation, and feedback delivered with empathy. 

However, giving constructive feedback remotely can be easily forgotten between daily tasks and deadlines. Yet, it’s important to maintain clear communication in hectic and fast-growing work environment. On top of that, giving remote feedback can be…tough, weird, and well… awkward.

Don’t worry, that’s why we came up with five tips for giving feedback to remote workers.

1. Open conversation, feedback loops, and goal setting

First, remember to create a safe and open flow of communication. Encourage employees to offer their opinions and give management feedback to better suit their needs.

How to encourage open communication? Frame feedback as constructive insights, where you share experience and knowledge with one another. Employees need to know that their feedback is valuable to the manager, and implemented.

As humans, we constantly look to self-develop. That’s why creating a loop where feedback is encouraged and appreciated to build trust and happiness with employees.

For remote workers, set the time for feedback. Create a short recurring meeting that will not be dropped from the agenda. It is important to schedule routine feedback meetings in order to build trust and give time to your employees. Pair your feedback meetings with team goal setting, which will enable your expectation to be clear and permit employees to respond with their feedback. 

This simple tactic of scheduling feedback meetings paired with goal setting allows the feedback loop to be closed. Once the goals have been set and discussed, and the conversation can be moved onto the next objective.

Remote workers computer with statistics on screen.

2. Relevant and timely feedback

Keyword: Instant. It might seem self-explanatory and obvious, but we often lose track of time in the midst of our daily task and think we will remember to give feedback later in the day. This is especially true in remote working environments, where we aren’t physically present with co-workers, and therefore don’t have the reminder to start a conversation. This approach will not work in the long run!

The moment feedback is merited, feedback should be given, at the relevant time and relevant moment. This could mean simply sending a message via team chat, a communication app, or sending an email, but the main goal is to be responsive

Plus, who doesn’t like to receive a message telling you that your work has been appreciated?!

3. Show appreciation!

Remote working means that communication is carried out through digital tools. Inevitably, we need to adapt to being comfortable talking remotely through technology, and giving appreciation digitally.

Lead your feedback in a human and empathetic way, remember you are talking to a person, not a robot. Start your feedback by showing appreciation for their effort and dedication.

Our verbal communication has changed enormously through technology, and some of the non-verbal cues might be overlooked. It is so important to take the time at the end of a meeting to ask colleagues if they have any questions, look for clarifications, and encourage feedback. Remember, showing appreciation builds employees’ trust, and in such, improves communication and productivity

4. Communication channels

How are you delivering your feedback? One-on-one private meetings? Through video? Through messages? Email?

Your tone and medium of delivery are as important as the message. To deliver feedback effectively, consider the medium. Would adding emotion with emojis and GIFs be enough for a simple text? Is it worth recording a personal video? Or maybe organising a meeting? 

Regarding positive feedback, your employee may feel prouder when they receive a public appraisal, depending on how much they enjoy the spotlight and the relationship they have with their manager. However, for negative feedback use a private approach.

Your tone should always be empathetic, helpful, friendly and approachable. Receiving feedback is a great way to be constructive, focus on goals, and work on mutual understandings. Always be respectful when you give and receive feedback. And, above all inquire to understand potential challenges and possibilities.

5. Constant checkups, and the Socratic method

When giving feedback, why not lean into the Socratic method to achieve self-accountability? It is much easier to convince an employee of your opinion by making them come up with a conclusion and to provoke critical thinking to answer questions. Let me explain, it is much harder to argue against your own argument. When approaching a feedback session, start the conversation with a question. Then, ask the employee about their perspective, how they reach decisions, and what they need. Oftentimes, by leading with questions we lower our defensive guard and work together to reach the root of a problem, and then build a solution.

Managing remote workers can increase the risk of managers giving out tasks constantly without taking the time to ask questions, or ask for opinions from their employees. You want to avoid miscommunication at all costs to decrease the risk of burnout and demotivation. Instead, focus on installing the habit of open conversation with your remote teammates. Make sure that asking questions is accepted at all times, to reinforce a healthy and positive company culture.

In conclusion: extra effort brings extraordinary results!

The most important lesson from this article?

Appreciate, recognise and communicate with empathy to provide constructive feedback.

Leverage technology to send appreciation quickly using digital channels to give feedback instantly and consistently.
Find this article interesting? Read Open and honest conversations with employees, 3 tips to master.

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