The move to home or remote working and hybrid working, for employers and employees alike, has changed expectations across the board.

Whatever the arrangements in your business, one thing is clear in our experience: the way you manage your teams’ performance needs to change. It’s becoming tougher to recruit and retain great people and if you’re unable to performance manage your people right then you’ll be unable to attract the right talent and, worse, you’ll be unable to hold onto them.

Based on our experience of working with a whole host of businesses, we’ve put down everything you need to know to get the best out of your people, to keep them happy and motivated – and if they’re not making the grade, how to exit someone – wherever they’re working from.

It means fundamentally re-thinking your HR. Here’s how.

Rethinking your policies

The first thing you’ll need to do is create a policy around remote or 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?

It’s really important that, as a manager of a hybrid team, you continue to treat everyone the same. 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 is expected of them.

And it will probably mean a change to people’s contracts if you’re making this a permanent arrangement – to formally capture any changes – and that means undertaking a consultation process.

Rethinking Hiring

With all of the changes to the way we’re working, it’s equally important to be mindful of how you attract new talent.

First things first, when it comes to advertising a role, it’s vital that you create a detailed job profile before you do anything else. Start with a Job Description, then work out the profile of the ideal person. This allows you to identify exactly what you need in a new employee.

The tendency is to focus on skills, with little thought on behaviours. The right behaviours are the difference between a good and a great new hire. Think about behaviours based on your culture, the existing behaviours of the team they are about to join (how the person needs to complement existing team members) and the role itself (do they need to be go-getters or “Steady Eddies”?)

With remote or hybrid working, behaviours become even more important. People with different behavioural styles respond differently to the traditional office environment. Some people need clarity of structure and others need to be around other people. Others are more independent and goals-orientated.

So, think about behaviours, and hire on behaviours, as well as skills! We can assess any candidates fit for your role and team by personality profiling.

Rethinking Onboarding

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. Especially with more remote and hybrid workers, it’s important to make them feel welcome and part of your team.

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, 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 quickly familiar with the role, 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, in order to meet all their new colleagues.

Again, be clear on your expectations. What is your new hire expected to achieve and demonstrate during their initial, probation period with you – and don’t forget to ensure that their probation ends by being signed off formally (or not) with a review.

The data show that most people, who leave their employer, leave within the first three months. And that’s often due to a poor on-boarding process.

Almost as bad as losing a great new member of staff, is keeping someone on who isn’t making the grade, so ensure your onboarding includes that probation process!

Rethinking performance management

If you’re not seeing all of your team every day, it can make performance reviews 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. Communication with a remote team is also vital, to make sure the tasks are allocated to the right people, and anyone overstretched is helped out. We recommend a weekly team meeting virtual or face to face to do this.

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. We should be looking at measuring the performance output’s not the time they are logged on, or physically at their desk.

Make sure that you’re putting that added effort in reviews, starting with providing your employee’s regular feedback. Ensure that you have one-to-ones diarised, e.g., every month. Regular one-to-ones make the (annual or half-yearly) appraisal easy, because any appraisal becomes an accumulation of what was covered in those one-to-ones.

In reviewing people’s performance, have a clear set of Key Performance Indicators – irrespective of where employees are based. When employees know their deliverables well, they feel more accountable and more engaged. A salesperson might be tasked with a sales KPI. Similarly, a customer support team might be measured based on response times or customer satisfaction feedback. Remember, if you can’t measure someone’s output, you can’t measure them.

Alongside KPIs, performance can be measured through time tracking and productivity. For example, a project management tool not only helps your team but also enables you to know what each team member is working on, how much time they are spending on each task and how productive they are. Use this data, alongside KPIs to provide feedback on performance and identify any development needs.

Strong performance management is based always based on clarity.

Rethinking technology

So, while you’re embracing video calling, file sharing and virtual offices, it’s also time you look to other forms of technology to make HR easier.

There are countless HR software packages available to help you keep track of all the aspects that come with employing people. Things like holiday requests, sickness and absence, personal information – as well as meeting and appraisal notes, onboarding checklists and probation review documents – 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 we’ve already mentioned. 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.

The kind of data you can access through this software is invaluable when it comes to performance reviews.

Rethinking how you deal with under-performance

There may come a time when you have to deal with underperformance in your business.

When an individual is underperforming, you need to tackle the issue immediately and follow a specific process to fix the problem.

If you’re doing the rest of your HR right, then it’s less of an issue. For example, you’ll find this out while a new starter was in their probationary period (that’s why it’s important to have one).

However, in some cases, perhaps where a role has changed or developed over time, this may happen with a long-term employee. If you’ve been carrying out your reviews and appraisals as usual and they haven’t had an impact on your under-performer – 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.

This is why KPIs are so important. They provide objective evidence to support your formal process. Whatever the reason, it’s important that you still follow disciplinary and dismissal processes to the letter, and you demonstrate that you’ve acted reasonably and fairly, which KPIs help you to do, to avoid any legal consequences.

Rethinking Wellness and incentives

If you’re doing things the right way, it should be the case that you have a team of happy, motivated individuals, where appraisals and reviews are about the next positive step an employee can take to develop themselves.

One other 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. Working from home can also make it difficult to know when to switch off from the screen.

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. Talk to us about software that can help you track your employee’s wellbeing and highlight trends and take actions to support to them, or we can provide webinars or training on Mental health at work and look after ourselves and each other.

Final thoughts

You can’t afford to go wrong when it comes to managing your people and their performance. Follow these steps 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 HR headaches.

If you’re ever unsure of where you stand in developing a strong and positive culture with a happy, positive and motivated workforce, or tackling any problem employee, just let us know. We’re here to help.