26 Jan 2021

Tips To Help Manage Underperforming Remote Workers

Covid-19 has changed the current work climate from sleek, open-plan offices, to working from home. Many people have enjoyed this transition and their work productivity has remained constant or even improved. However, this is not the case for some workers. What do you do when you have a remote worker who goes from being productive in the office to underperforming while working remotely? Below are some tips to help support remote workers who are struggling.

Look at the underlying underperformance issues, not the employee. 

First, it is important to look at how you and the company are possibly contributing to the underperformance issues of the employee in question. Are communications written clearly? In an office setting, when an underperformance issue is noticed, management tends to focus solely on the employee causing it. An employee’s lack of skills, bad attitude, lack of commitment to the project or taking initiative is rarely the main cause, only a small part of it. Therefore, it’s important to look closely at the underperformance itself as an issue, rather than the worker. This leads to better problem-solving. 

Create a safe space to give and receive constructive feedback.

As a manager, you need to create a culture that is centered around two-way honest feedback. An employee must feel safe to criticize the parts of their job that are not working well, without fear of repercussions. As a manager, it is essential to create a dialogue around trust and mutual aid.

Face the problem head-on.

Don’t leave the issue to sit and fester. When a problem arises with underperformance it’s important to fix it as soon as it’s flagged. “Many managers often think they are showing compassion and empathy to their underperforming worker by giving them a pass when a problem with their performance arises. However, ignoring the issue compounds the problem” says Theodore Rivera, a writer at Revieweal and Assignment Help. There are ways to approach the problem, leading with empathy, head-on.

Conduct meetings via video calls. 

 Where possible, conduct your meeting as a video call, rather than an email. Emails are a really good way to miscommunicate your intentions, as well as being highly impersonal. You want to approach the conversation with compassion, empathy and as a manager who wants to support their work and increase the employee’s productivity, not demotivate them further. Having the chat via video allows the worker to see your facial expressions and body language which will help them understand that you are on their side. 

Speak with empathy. 

Don’t just launch straight into the heavy conversation. Inquire as to how they are doing and ask thoughtful questions about their everyday life, such as “Have you watched any good tv shows recently?” or ask about their children if they have any. As a manager, it’s your job to treat all your employees as a person. 

When you switch to the actual reason for the video chat, focus on the observable behaviors that you have noticed, rather than pointing the finger directly at them. If they point out a problem with the system, make sure you lead by example and take accountability for your own or the company’s part in creating the underperformance issues, and do your best to fix the issues that you or the company processes have created.

Work out an improvement plan together.

Now that you have made the underperforming worker aware of the issue and have listened thoughtfully to their answers to your questions about the situation, do not just leave them to go it alone. “Ideally, instead of asking ‘do you have any questions?’ ask them How you can assist them going forward and emphasize that you are going to work as a team to fix the problem,” says Lavonna Bingham, an HR at State Of Writing and Ukservicesreviews. This cements the idea that you are a team and are willing to support your employee. 

Remote working can be a daunting change for those used to office life and it can affect productivity. It is important as a manager to raise issues promptly and with the above tips, your employees will feel valued and empowered to make the necessary changes and improve their productivity.

About the Author

Katherine Rundell, a career blogger, writes about HR at Assignment Writer and Big Assignments. She also is a skilled proofreader at Boomessays Review writing service.

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