Top Ten Tips... Managing Performance in Virtual Teams

Top Ten Tips... Managing Performance in Virtual Teams

Now that a large percentage of the workforce is working from home as a result of the pandemic, how can employers and line managers ensure effective performance management in remote or hybrid teams?

From performance appraisals to meetings with an underperforming individual, read on for our Top Ten Tips for managing performance in virtual teams...

1. Trust your employees – no micromanaging!

It’s important for everyone’s sake that you understand you can’t monitor every aspect of your team’s work – and you shouldn’t need to! If you’re lucky enough to have experienced employees in your team then they don’t want to feel as if they are being micromanaged and aren’t trusted to do their jobs. Get comfortable with trusting, rather than observing and implement different ways to monitor and measure performance.

2. Address any concerns as soon as possible

If you do find yourself having concerns about an employee’s performance, then it’s a good idea to have a discussion about it as soon as possible. Try not to let these situations linger as they rarely resolve themselves. Remember, as well, that many employees may be struggling to adjust with work-life in the pandemic and a little more flexibility may be required – especially if they have been unwell, bereaved or struggling with childcare. You don’t have to wait for a scheduled appraisal or meeting, why not get a video call in the diary as soon as possible?

Related: Top Ten Tips for managing change in the workplace

3. Look out for great performance too

In hybrid teams, it’s not just poor performance that you should be on the lookout for. You may find that some team members are thriving in their new environment or are going above and beyond for your company in these difficult times. Make time to celebrate their successes and provide recognition for great performance. A thank you can go a long way to making staff feel valued and motivated!

4. Set achievable goals and review regularly

This step is always an important one, but perhaps even more so in a remote environment. Make sure that each individual employee knows what is expected of them and how their contribution will be assessed and reviewed. Is this by a regular catch up every month? Or maybe you have systems and technology in place for routine reporting? Either way, it can be extremely motivating for your team to see or hear about their individual progress towards a certain goal.

5. Schedule one on one time

If most team members are working from home then there will be even less opportunity for water-cooler conversations and informal catch-ups in the canteen. Therefore, it’s important to set aside time to regularly touch base with your employees, whether discussing performance or not. This gives you a valuable opportunity to check in with your team, are they coping with their at-home environment? Do they have everything they need to work effectively? This will also help you deliver any feedback in a timely manner.

6. Give clear deadlines

As well as setting goals and objectives for your individual team members, it’s important that you give them clear deadlines to work towards. In remote teams, without in-person reminders or face-to-face meetings, keeping on top of deadlines can be trickier, so make it clear what you expect from them from the outset. Clear expectations and deadlines will also give you great material to discuss during your regular virtual catch-ups.

Related: Top Ten Tips for encouraging self-discipline in 'work from home' teams

7. Communication is key!

We’ve touched on the subject of communication several times now in the above points, but we want to stress that the key to fostering strong remote working relationships really is open communication. Whether you are discussing performance concerns or simply touching base with remote employees, it’s vital that everyone still feels like a valued member of the team.

8. Share the big picture

When working from home, often alone, it can feel very isolating – especially for those who are used to working in busy office environments. In order for all workers to remain engaged and productive, they need to understand how their work fits into the overall business plan. What are your organisation’s long-term goals? How does each department help contribute to them? Share these insights with your employees and let them know that their individual contributions are important.

9. Encourage team bonding

Similarly to the point above, if you want your team to stay focused and motivated to produce great work then it’s vital that everyone feels included. Encouraging team bonding in hybrid teams certainly comes with its challenges but spending time together, even virtually, can really help improve teamwork. Why not plan virtual happy hours or other social events?

10. Look to the future!

While it does involve some changes, it doesn’t have to be difficult to manage performance remotely. In the future, it is predicted that more and more people will choose to work remotely, at least for some of the working week, so now is a great time to adapt your performance management processes to ensure success going forward.

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