Managing performance on hybrid teams

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Jul 09 2024 by Wayne Turmel Print This Article

As hybrid working becomes more and more widespread, there have been some consistent challenges that come alongside the opportunities to succeed. Coordinating schedules, feeling disconnected and a lack of serendipity in conversations head up the list. But one of the most important difficulties is managing performance when some people are in the office more than others.

The Human Element in Evaluations

Remote work advocates will say that this shouldnít be a problem. If the job is done to a sufficient quality (and quantity), it doesnít matter where the actual work takes place. Leaders should know the metrics of success, have access to them, and judge the results fairly. Thatís true. They should. But do they? Leaders being human, this isnít as straightforward as it sounds.

This matters, because how employees are evaluated plays a huge role in engagement, productivity, and even employee retention. Evaluating performance is partly dataóare the expected metrics reached or not? Is everyone aware of, and evaluating the expectations and metrics the same way? A large part of how people are judged still comes down to somewhat subjective intangibles. Things like "being a team player", "putting in effort", and the estimated quality of the work.

This is where remote and hybrid work often butts up against some common biases. When it comes to engagement and retention, the accuracy of the performance evaluations is important. More importantly, however, is the perception of fairness and honesty in appraising these skills and behaviors.

Human beings are susceptible to all kinds of biases. Proximity bias is the tendency to trust and engage with those we see and interact with most often. Recency bias says the last thing we heard tends to carry more weight than what we heard before. Without conscious effort, itís easy for leaders to fall into these traps.

New Situations Require New Qualifiers

Leaders and team members can overcome both the perception of unfairness and actual blind spots with the following questions:

  • Are the expectations for all parties clear, measurable, and evaluated regularly?
  • Are managers aware of their own blind spots?
  • Do employees take proactive measures to make sure they are communicating with their leaders and teammates frequently and effectively?
  • Are there regular feedback channels? 360 surveys can be helpful. Using tools like Slack, Teams, and other collaboration technology can break up the virtual silos. Reduce the feeling that work is going on behind a wall and isnít visible to leaders and teammates.

For most of the modern world, work was evaluated through direct observation. Either someone was at their desk working, or they werenít. Someone contributed to meetings and brainstorms, or they didnít. True, the biases were all at work here, too. But at least it FELT accurate and trustworthy.

As we move to a more hybrid workplace, it will be possible to offer fair, acceptable, and accurate performance evaluations and metrics. It will just take work, awareness, practice, and time to get it right.

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About The Author

Wayne Turmel
Wayne Turmel

For almost 30 years, Wayne Turmel has been obsessed with how people communicate - or don't - at work. He has spent the last 20 years focused on remote and virtual work, recognized as one of the top 40 Remote Work Experts in the world. Besides writing for Management Issues, he has authored or co-authored 15 books, including The Long-Distance Leader and The Long-Distance Teammate. He is the lead Remote and Hybrid Work subject matter expert for the The Kevin Eikenberry Group. Originally from Canada, he now makes his home in Las Vegas, US.