Covid has changed the way that people all over the world work. The sudden move to home working, for many of us, worked out well. We found that after an initial period of adjustment, there were some benefits to be had for all.
Even now, it still remains to be seen how permanent these changes will be. There’s been a lot of back and forth from some of the world’s biggest companies. Smaller businesses are likely to follow suit. But perhaps this change to home or hybrid working has worked well for you, and you’ve already made the decision to stick with it. Maybe you’re still making your mind up?
Whatever the situation for your business, one thing is clear: the way we manage our teams’ performance needs to change. This guide will highlight everything you need to know to get the best out of your people, to keep them happy and motivated, and how to get rid of any deadwood, wherever they’re working from.
The hybrid team
The first thing you’ll need to do is create a policy around hybrid working. Set out exactly what is expected of your hybrid workers. For example, will they be required to spend a minimum number of hours in the office? Can they pick and choose when and where they work from, when they feel like it? And how will you manage requests for hybrid work? Will everyone have the same opportunity or are there roles that need to have a physical presence?
There’s a lot you need to consider, and a lot that needs to be communicated to your team about this. By setting out a formal policy, you leave nobody in any doubt over what’s expected of them.
It’s really important that, as a manager of a hybrid team, you continue to treat everyone fairly and make time to meet with your people as you usually would.
Rethinking how you manage performance
If you’re not seeing all of your team every day, it can make performance review and management a little trickier. We’re lucky that we now have more technology than ever to keep us connected and make conversations – almost – as easy as they would be in the office.
But, when it comes to reviews and appraisals, we need to put in a little more work to keep things flowing. That also means looking at the metrics we’re currently using to measure performance.
There are three core performance areas you need to look at when it comes to metrics; your work, your team and your customers.
Hopefully, your business is still going from strength to strength and, at some point, you will be looking at taking on new people. This may be new people to grow the business, or to replace people who have left you.
With all of the changes to the way we’re working, it’s equally important to be mindful of how you attract and onboard new talent.
First things first, when it comes to advertising a role, it’s vital that you create a detailed job description before you do anything else. This allows you to identify exactly what you need in a new employee, the skills, knowledge and experience you’d like them to have, and it gives you a clear understanding of what they’ll be doing day-to-day. It will also help to filter out any time wasters from your recruitment process.
When you do find the ideal candidate, it’s important that you have a thorough onboarding process set up and ready to go on their first day. Make sure you have everything ready for them to hit the ground running, including a device to work on (in the office, at home, or both), that they have accounts set up in all of the software they’ll be using, an email account is ready to go, and that they also have anything else they’ll require to carry out their role effectively.
Include a full training itinerary allowing them time to become familiar with software, to shadow any other employees, and to see how everyone else’s jobs fit into the bigger picture too. It’s also a good idea to build in time for a guided tour of your offices, whether they’ll be working in them or not. It all goes towards giving off a great impression of your business, and helping them to feel welcome and included from the get-go.
As I’ve already mentioned, one thing that really flourished thanks to the pandemic is technology. We’ve been furnished with all the tools we could possibly need to work remotely, without disruption to our communication and collaboration. We couldn’t have managed this well even 10 years ago.
So, while you’re embracing video calling, file sharing and virtual offices, it’s also time you looked to other forms of technology to make your working life easier.
There are countless HR software packages available to help you keep track of all of the aspects that come with employing people. Things like holiday requests, sickness and absence, meeting and appraisal notes, and personal information can be stored and managed within one app.
But there are other apps that you can use to help manage your peoples’ performance, too. Project management software can help you to see exactly how well projects are progressing, how communication is handled and how much each member of the team is contributing.
There are also time management apps that allow you to track the times spent on tasks, showing you whether your people are using their time effectively, and reporting software that can send you automatic reports daily, weekly, or monthly.
When it comes to performance reviews, this kind of data can be very valuable.
There will undoubtedly come a time when you have to deal with underperformance in your business. Whether that is a whole team’s performance or an individuals will dictate how you deal with such an issue.
If a team is underperforming, it may be a sign that your managers need to up their game.
However, if an individual is underperforming, you need to tackle the issue immediately and follow a specific process to fix the problem.
If you’ve been carrying out your reviews and appraisals as usual and they haven’t had an impact on your underperformer, it may be time to start a performance improvement plan. This is a formal process that should manage your employee’s performance in greater depth than regular reviews do.
It’s advised that you get the support of an expert HR consultant to guide you through this process.
Dismissal on the grounds of capability
Sometimes, unfortunately, it’s necessary for you to dismiss an employee on the grounds of capability.
You may find that someone doesn’t have the right aptitude or skills to complete their role effectively. Hopefully, you’d find this out while a new starter was in their probationary period, making it easier for you to remove them from the business. However, in some cases, perhaps where a role has changed or developed over time, this may happen with a long-term employee.
It may also be the case that the employee has become unwilling or reluctant to do their job – and this can be for any number of reasons.
In any case, it’s important that you still follow disciplinary and dismissal processes to the letter, to demonstrate that you’ve acted reasonably and fairly, and to avoid any legal proceedings in the future.
Wellness and incentives
A lot of people perceive managing your team’s performance as, well, a bit horrible. But it doesn’t have to all be doom and gloom. Not everyone will have issues and, if you’re doing things the right way, it should be the case that you have a team of happy, motivated individuals.
One thing that you should be mindful of, especially when it comes to performance, is the wellness of your people, and the incentives you’re giving them to perform well.
You’ve probably noticed that since the pandemic began, our wellness has taken a huge hit. Covid burnout became an issue for even the most resilient among us, and it was no surprise.
But, again, it’s worked out to be a good thing in a sense, because it’s forced many businesses to place more importance on the wellbeing of their people. And the result of this can be a happier, more motivated and productive workforce. Look after your team and they’ll look after you.
Now, I understand there is a lot to digest in this guide. But you can’t afford to go wrong when it comes to managing your people and their performance. Follow these guidelines and you’ll find your team remain happy, motivated and committed to your business. Get any of it wrong and you may open yourself up to all manner of headaches – including tribunals.
If you’re ever unsure of where you stand when it comes to tackling a problem employee, always seek professional advice and guidance first. And as ever, if we can help, we’d be delighted to. Just give us a call or drop us an email to arrange a conversation.