6 ways HR can help build a feedback culture with remote teams

Feedback becomes even more important when working remotely. Working from home is not a trend anymore, it’s here to stay. That’s why it’s crucial to regularly check-in with peers, understand how you can support them better from a distance and make sure that everyone stays aligned while doing home office.

Working from home for an extended period of time has its benefits but it can also be stressful for the best of teams. The solution is to stay connected and coordinated with one another as much as possible. Here’s what you can do to build a great feedback culture and make sure you’re moving the needle, even when your team is working remotely.

1. Set up a standard time for 1-on-1s

Giving and receiving feedback, tracking progress and discussing if team members are blocked are some of the surest ways to keep things moving in the right direction and people motivated. Managers should reach out to schedule 1:1s to go over such topics and employees shouldn’t shy away from taking the initiative, either. These less formal catch-ups should be encouraged between peers, too. Especially when working from home.

Setting up 1:1s and making them regular will do miracles for employee engagement and tracking goal progress.

Having a set of predefined questions before the 1:1s could help guide the conversation. Some examples are:

They explain that the consistency in questions makes it easy to prepare and track important changes in team engagement over time. If teams in your organization will be working remotely for a longer period of time, make sure to encourage weekly, if not even daily 1-1s with team leads and peers. Automation can help you make the process even smoother.

2. Create a positive feedback habit

Positive feedback is a great motivator and essential for building team spirit. Not being in the same environment physically doesn’t mean you can’t create a virtual environment in which your team can feel connected. Make sure to give your virtual team members positive feedback regularly and encourage peers to celebrate successes, even online.

At Impraise, we created a habit of sharing praise with each other by making it quick, easy, and public. To do this we created a Slack integration which allows our team to share positive feedback on a dedicated Slack channel by simply typing:

"/praise @(recipient’s slack name) You did such a great job at presenting yesterday!"

Send praise to your colleagues for a job well done

What we noticed was that the more people received praise notifications on Slack, the more likely they were to share praise with others. This helped us to increase positive feedback throughout the company exponentially.

3. Keep teams aligned with OKRs and track progress

While working remotely, teams and managers need to communicate even more about who’s working on what, so people can pinpoint bottlenecks and share progress updates. This will ensure everybody owns their responsibilities and feels a shared sense of purpose. It is easier to disconnect from common goals while apart from one another for a longer period of time.

The right tool can help you create Objectives and Key Results, visualize how individuals and teams contribute to the overall organizational goals, share and track progress and much more. Staying on top of objectives is one of the best ways to support performance and keep people moving in the right direction.

Even though employees might not be in the same place, that doesn’t mean that their professional development should seize either. Make sure to continue setting and tracking personal development goals as well as business ones. Look at these examples for setting good professional development goals at work.

4. Teach your team how to structure their feedback

Getting a message from your teammate saying, "You need to learn how to be more open to changing direction," can be taken in so many ways. Without being able to see facial expressions and body language it's hard to gauge the feeling behind this feedback.

Likewise, without providing context and the right amount of details, your teammate's feedback doesn't provide enough information to come up with concrete next steps. In the end, this kind of feedback is more likely to end in a virtual exchange of passive-aggressive comments.

No one wins. Just because your people are remote doesn’t mean they shouldn’t also receive training on how to give and receive feedback. In fact, in this type of team setup, it’s even more important. Not being present in an office means that two people could have an argument via slack and their manager may never know. It’s especially important that remote teams learn how to use the right language when sharing feedback with each other.

For example, we at Impraise run trainings internally using the COIN framework to ensure people are comfortable providing effective feedback.We may not realize it, but facial expressions and body language have a far deeper impact on our understanding than we realize.

Make sure your team has the tools they need to communicate their message effectively, avoiding potential misunderstandings and conflict.

5. Set up regular 360-degree feedback moments

Once your team is comfortable with these tips for sharing great feedback it's important that you actually encourage them to share feedback with each other regularly. Poor communication is one of the easiest pitfalls that can cause the downfall of a remote team.

Whether it's a failure to address potential problems ahead of time or knowledge within the team which, if shared, could have saved someone a lot of frustration and time, communication is key to creating an effective team.

Impraise allows you to schedule recurring 360-degree reviews focused on helping your team members develop and grow. Whether on a quarterly cycle or a biweekly Sprint, timing is flexible and can be adjusted to fit the way your team works.

6. Track employee engagement

Last but not least, make sure to track employee engagement. Working from a distance can affect teams and individuals. Disconnecting from what’s going on in the company and even in one’s team is a real possibility.

Keep a finger on the pulse of remote team engagement.Encourage regular check-ins and conduct engagement surveys. If you’re looking for ideas on how to get maximum participation in your engagement survey, take a look here. We share some valuable tips.

Conclusion

Whether your teams are completely remote, or you have members working from home a couple of days a week – it is undeniable that people will be working from the home office more in years to come. It is up to employers to ensure they provide an environment where people clearly understand how their work contributes to the overall success of the business, and remain engaged through regular feedback and development opportunities.

Otherwise, you risk people losing focus, and moving to another employer who provides a flexible working environment but where they are set up for success.

Learn more about how you can support your teams to stay connected and coordinated – whether working from across town, or across the globe.

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