Feedback between employees and leaders should happen often, and there are many ways to give and receive it while working remotely.
Feedback is essential in any business culture. Not only does it allow employees to understand and gauge their performance, but it affords small business owners and leadership the same opportunities. That’s valuable information across the board.
Without quality feedback, employees can feel like they’re consistently failing with no idea why. Eventually, they’ll start looking for opportunities to be successful elsewhere. On the business side, a lack of effective employee engagement feedback can lead to an out-of-control attrition problem that can become a major stumbling block for your business’s success.
Although most of us are working remotely these days, nothing about how valuable feedback is has changed.
How often should I be checking in for feedback?
Feedback systems should be both formal and informal and happen often. Not only should you have a proper review process to assess engagement that you carry out at least once a year, there should be plenty of opportunities for employees to both give and receive feedback in more informal situations.
Formal review or feedback processes can be intimidating to some and might not always garner the most authentic results. Less formal feedback processes allow for more real-time feedback. It can be hard to remember everything that happened over the course of a year during a formal review. However, it’s fairly easy to consider how well someone did or something went as a project wraps up.
Not only should you have a proper review process to assess engagement that you carry out at least once a year, there should be plenty of opportunities for employees to both give and receive feedback in more informal situations.
Both of these feedback mechanisms can be carried out remotely. From using digital surveys to construct formal reviews, setting up a Slack channel for feedback thoughts, or scheduling a quick Zoom call at the end of a project, there are plenty of ways to keep both formal and informal feedback systems functioning across teams that are working from home.
What questions should I ask on an employee engagement survey?
If feedback is involved in your workplace culture (and it definitely should be!), one of the best things you can do is to create guidelines around giving and receiving feedback at your company.
While some people might be highly comfortable with feedback, those with less experience or maybe even simply different personalities can find it intimidating and confusing. Guidelines can go a long way in gathering the best feedback possible and putting everyone’s anxieties to rest. You want everyone to be able to meaningfully and confidently participate.
Clearly spell out when and how both formal and informal feedback works at your company. That can take the form of subjects such as:
- A core value of openness that relates to both giving and receiving feedback
- Clear instructions on how exactly the annual formal feedback process operates
- What kinds of questions will be included in it to diffuse confusion
It’s also important to distinguish between what can be shared informally versus what needs to be taken care of formally. Certain complaints, such as serious ones that violate company policies, should always follow a clear and formal process.
Once you have the standards out of the way, the rest is up to you. The best way to go might be working backwards from identifying the kind of information you hope to get and constructing questions that way. For example, in our current remote work situation, chances are you’ll want to know how effective your employees feel they’re able to be at home. Questions to reveal that kind of information can include “How productive do you feel you’re able to be at home versus in the office?” and “What would you need to be more effective at your job in a remote work setting?”
How can I offer employee feedback remotely?
First, choose the best medium for your communication. Is this just a small thing that you noticed someone could do better next time? Perhaps it’s setting an agenda for a meeting they called rather than leave participants in the dark. Depending on the employee and your relationship, that could be as simple as a quick Slack message, text, or call. If the feedback is more serious than that, consider setting a meeting and deciding on the best way to communicate, whether that’s by phone or Zoom.
Then, the same as always, be sure that your feedback contains both positive and negative facets. Even if it’s clear to you that everything else they did was great — that there’s just this one little thing that could be better — it’s best to call that out. Across the board, be as specific as possible and always keep things constructive.
Be proactive in reaching out to employees. Ask how work is going in general but also how tackling things remotely has been for them.
Finally, be proactive in reaching out to employees. Ask how work is going in general but also how tackling things remotely has been for them. The thing about remote work is that context matters. If they have kids at home who they’re suddenly also responsible for educating during school closures, this is something you’ll want to know and consider as you offer feedback about their availability during “school” hours.
How can I receive employee feedback remotely?
If you want feedback, you’ll have to be the one to solicit it. Assuming that no news is good news is not the way to go here. Not only should you ask for feedback anytime you give it (feedback is a two-way street!), you should be proactive about constantly asking your employees what you can do better.
You can quickly ask for feedback at the end of a meeting or schedule recurring one-on-ones now that you won’t be casually passing each other in the hallway anymore. The key to getting feedback remotely is to be proactive about making sure that the same opportunities that were present in the office are present through remote channels.