Working from home requires a degree of trust that team members will do their work. Without a supervisor physically present, how do you know everyone is meeting expectations?
For RIAs accustomed to working in one location, tracking team performance when working remotely can be a challenge.
While some employees will be productive, others will need closer attention. The lack of supervision, combined with the comforts and distractions at home, prevents them from doing what they’re supposed to.
In our previous blog post, we mentioned keeping remote work as a permanent fixture, regardless of employees being allowed back to the office. RIA managers might as well improve remote management skills.
Here are a few ways to help RIAs track team performance when working remotely.
If showing up to the office for eight hours and “looking busy” had worked before, it won’t anymore.
Results are everything. When working from home, managers need to set targets and employees must deliver.
Whether it’s calling a number of clients or preparing a report, team members need to have something to show for at the end of a given day or week.
By laying out a target coupled with a completion time, along with providing the tools necessary to do the job, they will be more focused on the goal, no matter how long it takes.
Without deadlines, work will drag on longer than necessary. By laying out a target coupled with a completion time, the team knows the expectations.
Setting appropriate deadlines requires knowing the amount of time it takes to complete a task.
If the work is straightforward and/or has been done by other team members, then it’s possible to find out how long It takes to finish. Furthermore, the processes should be documented to help other employees if they are tasked with it.
Another effective way to determine appropriate turnaround time is for managers to first do the work themselves, especially if it is a recurring task. It is better for a manager to know exactly what’s involved in the work rather than rely on others’ testimony. After all, how can you really know if the others were working in the most efficient manner?
At the same time, know when to be flexible. Maybe there isn’t enough time for managers to do the work themselves, but if it’s possible to see that the employees are working effectively yet unable to finish by the due date or time, allow for more time and adjust deadline expectations for the future.
Other deadlines, like preparing a report before meeting with clients or the board of directors, are not flexible.
That is why it is so important to master the art of employee time management. Good time and task management accomplishes two things:
1. Employees will not feel overworked scrambling to finish with limited time.
2. Employees will not sit idle, having finished work well ahead of the deadline.
After defining the results and turnaround times, RIAs can then use technology to better track team performance.
There are a number of time-tracking apps and CRM tools. Services like HubSpot make it easy for team members to log calls, emails, notes, store and share files. With this kind of setup, managers can see exactly what their team has been working on.
Employee monitoring software is another way for RIAs to track performance. For firms that want greater oversight, these tools can monitor keystrokes, track locations, take screenshots and record screens. Freelance hiring platforms like UpWork use these functionalities so hirers can track progress of remotely working freelancers.
At Empaxis, we leverage technology to track our own performance and ensure clients are getting daily reports in an accurate and timely manner. We document our processes and set deadlines accordingly, and we have built a Quality Assurance system that helps us identify and eliminate data irregularities.
This may not sound fancy, but a simple phone call or video conference call on a regular basis is another method in tracking team performance.
After all, you are speaking directly to the employee; the employee has to answer to what they have worked on.
For some employees, knowing there is an upcoming meeting is a “healthy fear” to ensure employees stay productive.
For others, regular meetings are a way to boost morale and foster a sense of team spirit.
In either case, employees have an incentive to work more efficiently.
In the absence of regular communication and a clear set of expectations, employees can grow anxious and stressed not knowing if they are working on the right task or doing a good job. Other employees may find the communication gap and lack of defined expectations as an opportunity to slack off.
As RIA employees work from home, knowing how to track team performance is paramount.
Some employees are trustworthy and will work hard no matter what, whereas others need more supervision.
Whatever the case may be, RIA managers can follow best practices by improving their performance tracking ability.
Defining and focusing on results, setting deadlines, leveraging technology and meeting regularly are all helpful ways to track and improve team performance.
As COVID-19 keeps RIA staff at home for an extended period, and with remote work to be a permanent part of the work culture even when the virus subsides, mastering the art of remote team management and performance tracking is a necessity, not an option.