When it comes to managing virtual teams, out of sight shouldn’t mean out of mind.
It can be difficult to track everything your team is doing, so staying on top of large-scale projects to individual tasks down to processes is a must.
In a virtual or remote team, employees work outside a physical office. This means you’ll need to make concessions with regards to communication style, time zones, and technology. This makes it difficult to stay on top of the work in progress and to track performance. It’s imperative to set up clear, measurable goals and a system to assess them.
Why goal setting matters
When it comes to performance tracking, first thing’s first: establishing objectives. Setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-specific) helps quantify success and establishes clear expectations. These results-oriented goals help keep teammates aligned and leave little room for interpreting how to measure performance.
Akin to SMART goals are OKRs, or objectives and key results. OKRs are the method behind the goals you’ve set—think of your goals as the ingredients of a recipe and your OKRs as the preparation. The primary benefit of OKRs is how easy they make team alignment. When tracking performance, your key results are where you want to focus. You can track these using daily or weekly progress reports that keep the team accountable and aware of progress.
Virtual communication channels
The best way to stay on top of your team’s performance is… communication! Use a communication tool that allows you to organize your ideas and conversations into different channels where you can encourage your team to be open and transparent.
A quick daily “roll call” where everyone mentions what they’re working on is an easy way to track progress, and you can follow up with a performance evaluation at the end of each check-in. Or, you can use private messaging with each team member to report quantifiable results as they happen. In instances where your teammates are in different time zones, this can be helpful for them to report out their progress at the end of the day, so the next person to log on can pick up where they left out.
Not everything in your line of work is measurable. That’s where 1:1 meetings and face-to-face communication come into play. These intimate check-ins allow you to pulse check individual performance and also let your team members speak openly and candidly. Making these part of your management rhythm keeps you in the loop on performance and keeps your team aligned and motivated to reach their performance goals.
Not only are 1:1s important to discuss and emphasize team-wide goals, they can also help track individual performance. Having a set cadence gives individuals a time frame for their own performance and helps you gauge performance over time. Giving these individual goals also confers responsibility and ownership over specific performance metrics.
Once you have your own system and processes in place, you can make things even easier with handy performance tools to manage and track performance.
Performance management tools like 15five and Impraise combine performance with employee engagement, tracking 1:1s and weekly check-ins for each employee. These tools also provide real-time feedback on both desktop and mobile.
If task completion is a measurable goal for your team’s performance, a task manager like Asana or Jira can help you track tasks as they’re completed and add them to your performance results. These tools function as a “quick look” at your performance and help you organize all your key results in one place. Plus, anyone in your virtual team can access them at any time (and, in most cases, from any device). That way you know everyone is on the same page—and on track to success.