Leading and Developing Your Remote Workforce
With COVID-19 creating a new priority for companies to create work-from-home delivery for as many Shared Services processes and activities as possible, new challenges are created for leading and developing your remote workforce. For many, the move from an in-office workforce to a workforce that was working from home took place almost immediately. With a business-first focus on “getting the work done”, what steps have companies taken to adjust processes for managing their team, and completing the annual review and development planning processes that are so important to employee morale and retention?
Remarkably, during the COVID pandemic, employees at Peeriosity member companies are positive regarding their manager’s ability to evaluate their performance and support their development, even though their work shifted to being remote.
Recently a Peeriosity member company with global operations and over $10B in annual revenue discussed their experiences in leading and developing their remote workforce, where their primary Shared Services center for North America of roughly 500 people is located “near-shore” in Central America. In early 2020, the team successfully transitioned to a work-from-home model over a two-week period at this location, in part because they were already staffed with a supervisor of Leading & Development, with specialized skills in assisting Shared Services center leaders and in the many important issues related to employee development.
For the featured company, regarding the topic of leading (instead of the more traditional term of “managing”), it was important that the new processes to lead remotely included clear objectives with defined expectations and productivity goals, and with communications that were authentic, transparent, and continuous. Leaders also needed to act quickly to respond to employee needs as they occurred.
Regarding the topic of development, it was important that new processes for development be collaborative, complete with interactive meetings, including the ability to adapt to remote learning by rethinking development workshop activities, and the process for creating meaningful development plans.
For details, Peeriosity members are encouraged to sign into the members’ area to view the complete presentation and listen to the recorded Peercast.
iPollingTM Results Review
The results from a recent Peeriosity poll created using the iPollingTM technology looks at, from the employee perspective, how effectively their manager has been able to understand and evaluate performance and how they have been able to continue to develop professionally as remote workers. These results were delivered and tabulated using a “masked view” so that respondents could answer openly without others (including their managers) seeing how they responded. While no employees reported that their managers had greater insight into their progress and performance than before, 96% indicated that their manager maintained his/her ability to understand and evaluate their performance. Only 4% indicated that the manager’s ability to understand and evaluate was “not as good” with no one indicating there was a significant or noticeable decline.
The second poll question asked the employee to make a self-assessment regarding their personal development as a result of working remotely during COVID-19. Interestingly 30% indicated that they actually had more time and/or opportunity to develop, and an additional 52% indicated that there had not been any noticeable difference in either the time or the opportunity to develop. For those reporting a less positive result, 11% reported a decline in time and/or opportunity for development, and 7% reported that the decline was significant.
A few of the comments from members include:
- We have made a special effort to maintain communication and measure performance.
- The pandemic has provided opportunities to contribute outside of my normal scope of responsibility which has created development opportunities.
- Ironically, I think communication has gotten better during the pandemic. As far as development, there are many factors that drive this – including the global economy and the impact on our specific industry.
- There has been a substantial increase in communication, and ‘pushed’ training – several specifically targeted at Covid. Routine training has also continued – we strive to keep them one hour or less. Several people have expressed concerns on being evaluated, and we address these as needed since it is often a personal concern. All standard ratings, reviews, etc. continue.
- Opportunities for personal development have been reduced as a result of not being able to travel internationally.
- Since all our work is project-driven, and we communicate regularly via brief daily sprint calls and longer weekly team meetings, there has really been no appreciable difference in my manager’s ability to evaluate my work.
- It’s a double-edged sword. The organization promotes development and growth for staff, but there seems to be no time to do it and during COVID we were all asked to cut expenses which means that budgeted dollars for career development were not as readily available or accessible.
While the rapid transition to a global work-from-home strategy for Shared Services was forced on everyone, the good news is that for most, the change was implemented successfully, with limited overall negative impact, both in the short term, and when it comes to processes for employee performance review and development, likely in the long term as well. Out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind, and from the perspective of Shared Services employees at Peeriosity member companies, the review and development processes implemented for a new, almost instant, remote workforce are with few exceptions effective with positive results.
How effective was your company’s Shared Services organization in responding to the new demands for reviewing performance and developing your employees that were created by COVID-19 and the shift to remote working? When the virus threat is over, what does the “new normal” look like for you, and can the leading practice of your peers help you shape your strategy?
Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?
“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion. Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content. Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees.
“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility of all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPollingTM.
Peeriosity members are invited to log into www.peeriosity.com to join the discussion and connect with Peers. Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted. To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.