COVID-19 has upended the way we do business. A remote workforce, virtual meetings, video conferencing, and the like are the new normal. If you are a leader used to managing your people in person, you might find yourself at loose ends asking, “How do I manage people I am not physically with? How do I know if they are working productively … or working at all? What do I do if I think their performance is slipping? How do we have a tough conversation via Zoom?”
The good news is, performance management is no different during COVID-19 than it always has been. You don’t need to add any new tools to your leadership toolbox. The bad news is that you are going to have to apply a lot more elbow grease as you use these tools in order to get the job done.
Here are seven tools you need to be using day in and day out with your people to manage performance and keep your business going strong in the midst of pandemic upheaval:
- Communication. Your people have to know what your goals are, what you expect of them, and what their responsibilities are – especially since all those things can change at a moment’s notice. Yes, meetings are tougher to conduct via phone or video conferencing, but don’t let up! You need to communicate more now, not less.
- Priorities. There is no question that the pandemic has forced many readjustments in business priorities. Make sure you are clear on the current priorities, and then make sure your team is clear on those priorities.
- Accountability. Encourage your team – more than ever – to accept and own their responsibilities. Remind them that accountability is a commitment they make to do their job and do it well. This approach will help your team members be self-motivated to achieve high performance.
- Metrics. Know your key performance indicators (KPIs) and keep the numbers in front of your people each day, week, and month. If the numbers start to slip, you need to re-energize your people.
- Feedback. If someone on your team is doing a good job: tell them! If someone needs to step up: tell them! Ken Blanchard declared that “Feedback is the breakfast of champions” – during COVID, your team needs a BIG breakfast!
- Conflict management. Yes, things are tense these days. People are going to differ on the best way to reach business objectives, they are going to get frustrated with one another, and they are going to simply blow their stack now and then. Be prepared to manage the inevitable conflicts so that your momentum does not get derailed.
- Authenticity. The pandemic has left people feeling that the ground under their feet is very shaky. Be authentic with your team to help give them a firm foundation of trust.
Successful performance management during the COVID crisis is not a matter of doing something “new” or “different.” It is a matter of doing even more of what has proven effective during more peaceful times. You have the tools: now … take a deep breath, flex your muscles, and put them to work!