Blog

Why continuous feedback is critical for remote workers

Elissa Dennis
13th April 2020
social media undefined iconsocial media undefined icon

Change is a difficult thing to deal with. Many of us prefer to stay safely within our comfort zone and stick with what we know, however unsatisfactory it might be. We are wary of taking the plunge into a new and potentially better environment, for fear that it might be worse.

Change is something notoriously difficult for organisations to manage. A whole host of industry experts have written about how to successfully manage change. However, it is estimated that up to 70% of organisation change projects fail for one reason or another, illustrating just how tricky a process it is.

After the government announcement on March 16th, every company in the country immediately began going through their own change management project as they tried to deal as well as they could with the difficulties and uncertainties created by the coronavirus crisis. With minimal time to plan, most organisations in the UK are now having to manage a remote workforce. This was a huge change that everyone was expected to come to terms with overnight.

Recognising the emotions of change

With something this monumental, it’s unrealistic for everything to run smoothly and for everyone to immediately adapt to a new routine. Just because the change is enforced doesn’t mean the emotions that come with change aren’t present. Employees will likely be feeling uncertain, scared, angry, uncomfortable, helpless and isolated to name just a few.

If managers are to guide and support their employees through this difficult time, it’s important that they recognise that they will be feeling a wide range of emotions. Feelings of positivity and productivity can easily transition into to overwhelmed and stressed in a matter of minutes which is not a normal or an easy situation. For the vast majority of us, nothing like this has ever happened before and everyone is trying to make their way as best they can through this unchartered territory. Taking a humanistic approach to understand and empathise with the emotions involved, is crucial to effective management and for coaching employees to navigate their own way through.

Communication is key

A consistent reason for failure in change projects is a lack of communication. It’s vital that organisations keep employees updated continuously and effectively so that they understand how their role evolving. Without this, employees feel disengaged and disenchanted and this situation is no exception. There is already research that shows employees who lack regular communication with their managers during lockdown are have increased levels of stress and anxiety[1].

Feedback is more important than ever. Employees need to know what they can do to improve, when they have done a good job, and how well they are working with others. Knowing that they have made a positive difference and added value is more important now than ever.

Getting into a continuous feedback mindset

Working alone at home is very different to working in office. Being with other people provides its own kind of informal feedback. Sitting alongside mangers and peers, it is clear to see from their reactions and body language if the work that you’re producing is on the button or missing the mark, whether they verbalise this or not. Research shows that as much as 60% to 90% of communication is taken from non-verbal cues[2]. Without these visual clues, it can feel a little like working in a vacuum. It is easy for employees to feel detached or forgotten if they are not getting any feedback on the work they are producing.

Introducing a system of continuous feedback can help alleviate this problem. Encouraging everyone in your organisation to become involved and think about how they can recognise others when they have done a good job can be enormously powerful tool to keep up engagement and wellbeing. This is especially important for line managers who have a responsibility to keep in close contact with their reports and steer them as effectively as possible. A few words of guidance, thanks or appreciation brings people together, lets them know what they are doing is making a difference and gives them a much-needed boost and bridges the physical divide between them. It

Accentuate the positive

Unless it’s baked into the DNA of your organisation and something that employees are used to, now is probably not the time to be controversial. Suddenly introducing the “radical candour” approach with its brutally honest feedback might shake the stability we need right now. There are any number of reasons why employees may not be performing up to their usual standards – juggling childcare, worrying about relatives, struggling with equipment issues and suddenly finding themselves alone. Now is the time to seek their feedback and ask how you can provide more support, what you can do to make their lives that little bit easier, and to not be excessively critical.

Employees want feedback

In our own survey last year, we found only 8% of employees would not want to work in a culture that encourages them to give feedback to others on their performance and 82% of employees really appreciate feedback, be it positive or constructive. If your organisation hasn’t already embraced a feedback culture, now is the perfect time to start. We have lots available to get you started. Take a look at our help guides or contact our Customer Success Team at support@appraisd.com.