Feedback and recognition for remote workers

While adjusting to intense change it is common for people to feel less confident and to be less productive in their work.

For example, when people are promoted to a leadership role, they need to adopt more of a people-focused rather than task-focused, approach to work. This requires new knowledge, skills and behaviors they may not have practiced in their previous role. They need to step out of their comfort zone and into a learning zone where they are more visible and where people depend on them for direction, at the same time they are less sure of their abilities.

In the period of responding to an unforeseen crisis that one had control over, confidence may also suffer. There was minimal learning buffer (time) and support (mentorship, preparation) for everyone to adjust their working and communication styles, to learn new technologies or to cope with the impact of this on our mental well-being.  

Anxieties have increased due to the uncertainty we are being confronted with in our personal and professional lives. The feeling of inadequacy of how we operate in this lockdown period versus what we are used to can be deeply felt, coupled with the removal of our in-person and often informal means of communication and recognition.

LEADERS NEED TO INCREASE RECOGNITION AND FEEDBACK

Leaders need to go further than providing only the mission-critical communication in their response to the crisis. They need to offer meaningful feedback and recognition to support people through this crisis. They need to establish human connection in times of isolation.

In business-as-usual many organizations still wait for the annual review to give feedback. This is past-focused. Leaders should offer team members information that is relevant now and reassuring now and  that gives colleagues a sense of role and optimism for the future, even when the picture of what that future will be is rather vague.

Actively providing feedback and recognition during this period will help develop employees’ sense of connection to the organization and to the leader. If it is somewhat of a difficult conversation, demonstrate extreme empathy and preface the conversation with the understanding that these are unusual times and we are in a learning, adaptive zone. If it is positive feedback, communicate the impact in terms of a greater purpose. In times like this, connecting with people and demonstrating care and empathy will have a longer term impact on professional relationships and organizational culture.

foster new relationships and delegate

One common reaction to this is that in the isolated world we have less time, less connection and less real oversight over what our team members are doing. That is not a reason not to connect. Be sure to reach out and make sure that everyone in the organization has a regular check-in with a senior leader. Be inclusive and equitable with your time, making sure it’s not only certain people whom you hear from. Across teams and organizations, people may have found solutions to problems others are dealing with. Let’s promote this collaboration, recognize the innovators and offer support to those who need it.

If you truly do not have the time as you aim to ensure business continuity, delegate this role. This person or these persons should have the emotional and social skills to handle given situations and they should be trusted by others in the organization. They may not be in a formal leadership role, but this is an opportunity to encourage regular communication about performance and regular recognition among team members and these behaviours can benefit the organization in terms of problem-solving and fostering a culture of learning.

Be empathetic, appreciative, and inclusive.

Author Russell Pollard, MBA

In a work-from-home environment, workplace culture needs positive recognition and feedback to help keep employees engaged and motivated #leadership #recognition #feedback #businesscontinuity

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Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash