Due to COVID-19, many professionals had to adjust to working from home with little or no notice. While some flourished under these arrangements, others had a harder time adapting. Plus, over time, the stress of the pandemic became increasingly heavy. As a result, performance issues began to occur, leaving managers in a tough spot.
Initially, many managers tried to be empathetic and give their teams space. As employees adjusted to the new normal, the hope was that performance levels would return to their usual point. While that happened for some, others didn’t seem able to recover.
Since the work-from-home paradigm isn’t likely to change any time soon, managers need to find ways to guide their struggling remote employees. If you have a team member who has trouble meeting expectations, here are some tips that can help you counsel them effectively.
Gauge the Situation
Before you dive into performance issues, it’s wise to have a few conversations with the employee to gauge the situation. Your goal with these discussions is to find out what sort of events may be negatively impacting the quality of their work, making it easier to develop an effective game plan.
First, try to assess whether your expectations are clear. Additionally, see if anything outside of their professional life may be increasing their stress levels or distracting them, like having to care for school-aged children who are learning from home.
Finally, reflect on your own involvement up to this point. Determine if you have offered sufficient support and guidance, or if the amount of feedback you’ve provided has diminished.
Overall, you want to get a solid idea of what each employee is facing daily. That way, you can approach the situation the right way.
Choose the Right Communication Method
While video calls can be good for bonding, they aren’t always the ideal option. Some employees become incredibly nervous when facing someone on screen, particularly if the conversation is challenging. Others may not have a private space for a video call.
Before you have a serious discussion, figure out which method is best for the employee. You can ask if they prefer a video call or would rather talk on the phone. When you attempt to find out, be honest that the conversation will be performance-related, and that your goal is to help them find ways to improve.
Take a Questions-Based Approach
It’s never a good idea to tear into an employee. While you may have a laundry list of issues you want to discuss, broach the topic differently. Ask the remote worker how they feel things are going and listen as they assess their own performance. Continue with clarifying questions, helping them dig deeper into what’s occurring.
With a bit of prompting, they may be able to tell you what’s causing them trouble or what obstacles are preventing them from being at their best, expediting the journey toward determining the primary issue at hand.
Once you both understand the problem, you can work together to find a solution. This can include revisiting expectations, coming up with action steps, and scheduling appropriate follow-up calls.
While counseling a remote employee can be difficult, the approach above can be effective. If you’d like to find out more, the team at The Squires Group can help. Contact us today.