The role of a coach is one of the most critical responsibilities for any manager. Effective coaching enables better employee performance and development, resulting in lower turnover. But sharing performance feedback with employees who aren’t located in the same building as you can be especially challenging.
Meet face-to-face, even if it’s not in person
Get on a video conference or travel to them, and be honest in all of your conversations. When negative feedback is coming, don’t let feelings simmer – address the issue as soon as possible and prevent it from side-tracking the conversation.
A straightforward way to incorporate micro-coaching moments into the day is by offering pre-emptive praise and sharing it with the wider team. Over time, these micro-moments of praise help motivate remote employees and enable them to better understand what managers expect. It also gives them the confidence that their work is making a positive impact.
For employees who are predominantly out of sight, this can be a very powerful tactic. It’s important to praise employees reflect the behaviours you want to instil and to communicate those behaviours to the team. Show your employees how they can ‘win’ and give them visibility into what other team members are doing well.
Managers who are unaccustomed to leading teams distributed across locations often have a tough time finding the right way to offer adequate support without micromanaging. It’s tempting to over-communicate with the employees you don’t see in the office every day; if nothing else, to let them know you haven’t forgotten about them – a noble pursuit indeed.
But managers need to be aware that too much virtual hovering can foster insecurity and harm engagement. This is particularly true for high-performing employees who’ve had experience working remotely. For these people, constant check-ins can become distracting and insulting.
Tone of voice
It’s important to consider your tone when communicating with remote employees. Rather than using accusatory language like “I haven’t seen that presentation yet—don’t forget it’s due today”, use a more supportive tone, such as “I know you’re working to finish the presentation that’s due today. Please let me know if any questions come up or you need my help.”
It’s also important to respect deadlines. That means trusting employees to meet a deadline you’ve set rather than nagging them in the days or hours leading up to a project milestone. If your employee is consistently meeting deadlines and producing high-quality work, there’s no need to ask for updates every step of the way.
If this is a struggle for your team, consider implementing a project management tool. Having access to quick updates and a clear view of key milestones often alleviates the urge to micromanage. It also helps to reduce the silos that often occur when some employees are in the office, while others are dispersed.
By following these guidelines, managers can effectively mentor their remote employees without micromanaging and provide the right amount of contact, tailored to the individual member of staff.
If you’d like to learn more about managing a remote workforce, check out “The top five challenges of managing a distributed workforce” here.