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Setting Performance Goals During a Pandemic

Scan the front page of your favorite newspaper, analog or digital form, and chances are you’ll read words that even in the best of times would give us pause. Unfortunately, the moment we’re in - the pandemic - can’t be described as “good.” It’s anything but. If I said your employees are distracted, you’d agree with me. I don’t blame them. And, I suspect, neither do you. But you need to get - and keep - them focused. To be fair, for the vast majority of employees, working from home day after day is new, different, and, in many ways, unsettling. In more than the physical sense, they’re working on their own. And that’s both the challenge and the opportunity.

By: Gal Rimon, Founder & CEO, Centrical

Setting Performance Goals During a Pandemic

Scan the front page of your favorite newspaper, analog or digital form, and chances are you’ll read words that even in the best of times would give us pause. Unfortunately, the moment we’re in – the pandemic – can’t be described as “good.” It’s anything but. If I said your employees are distracted, you’d agree with me. I don’t blame them. And, I suspect, neither do you. But you need to get – and keep – them focused.

To be fair, for the vast majority of employees, working from home day after day is new, different, and, in many ways, unsettling. In more than the physical sense, they’re working on their own. And that’s both the challenge and the opportunity.

When you and your team worked together in an office, you assigned tasks with specific performance goals. Then, you observed each employee’s performance, as they did, simultaneously. When you could – often in real-time – employees got one-on-one feedback to help them get to the next level. Additionally, when called for, bite-sized learning was sent their way to help with more knowledge, skill or, simply, confidence.

Now it’s not so simple. Someone far wiser than I can ever hope to be once told me, “when things get complicated, strip it down to the essence of the essence.” His point: key on what matters most when managing people. In my view, given the mode so many of us are operating in, it’s all about those performance goals.

The first step to meeting performance goals for your unit is to have each team member set their weekly process goals. You then validate them and put in place an accountability mechanism. This creates a path to success for the team member, the team, and your business. It’s my view that if employees don’t have responsibility and accountability, a reason to make the effort, they will, eventually, hide behind the bushes. And that’s really easy with your team members working from their homes. Figuratively if not literally.

But even with the best bunch of employees a team leader could hope for, because we’re in a crisis, you need to make an extra effort to stay connected with them as they’re working from home. This relates directly to their goal-setting. By encouraging frequent, bi-directional communications, you’re able to make sure they’re working toward their goals and are aligned with the team’s priorities. Beyond that, and importantly, you should use these interactions to check on their workloads and wellness.

It’s too easy to think that if you’re not busy everyone else isn’t either. Or if you’re crazy busy, so’s the rest of your team. When you were in the office, you could look up and see a team member stressing out from too much work. You could adjust that imbalance right away. A work from home construct doesn’t offer that quick and easy visibility. Which is why you need to stay in touch.

Along with being in touch with your fellow managers, your team members, and they with their peers, all should reflect on their performance at the end of each week; to think about productivity. Did you and your team members achieve what they set out to do at the start of the week? How did they feel about what they accomplished? What will they do differently next week?

This act of reflection makes for better goal setting with every week your team works from home. And, from the look of things, they’ll be working from home for several more weeks. Each week will mean a new set of goals for each team member. To give them purpose and focus, and to keep your business driving forward.

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