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Tracking and Assessing Virtual Team Performance

Assessing results is a key component of our Partners in Development Long-Distance Leadership ModelTM. This model represents the prescribed stages and steps within each stage that, when followed, create a path that dramatically increases the chances for success. Many virtual teams struggle to reach high performance levels, especially at first. In this Tip of the Month we’ll examine a real concern of virtual team leaders and members—tracking and assessing performance. We’ll uncover some of the reasons for their concerns and ways to address them.

Tracking and Assessing Virtual Team Performance

Virtual team leaders often ask themselves, “If I can’t see my team members, how do I know if they are really working?” Virtual team members may also wonder, “Does my leader really understand and appreciate what I do or is it ‘out of sight, out of mind’?” In either case, performance may suffer, and team member engagement is likely to plummet.

Management consultant, author and educator, Peter Drucker often said, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” This certainly applies to virtual teams’ performance. In our research, we discovered that:

  • According to research by Gallup, team members who work remotely average four more work hours per week than their onsite counterparts. Yet, our research shows …
  • 57% of employees have no clear measures in place to assess individual and team performance.
  • 45% of employees say their team does NOT use a tool or system to track milestones.

You simply cannot track your team’s performance unless you have clear measures to assess it.

When tracking and assessing performance, there are two types of indicators—lead indicators and lag indicators. Lag indicators are the “after the event” outputs that can serve as the quantitative and qualitative signposts of results achieved. Examples include balance scorecard postings, stakeholder feedback, project management Gantt charts, and production reports. Lead indicators are team member behaviors and work processes that provide predictive information about how team members are interacting and completing work activities/tasks that lead to measurable results. Examples include sales calls made, observation, one-on-one coaching conversations, participation in team meetings, and team trust audits.

By differentiating and tracking lead and lag indicators, leaders and team members can be proactive in monitoring progress and detecting issues before they become serious problems. The indicators become a feedback mechanism that enables teams to identify and make small course corrections before they become major ones.

As a virtual team’s leader, it is important to set goals with employees and use appropriate rewards and incentives to reinforce them. Furthermore, these rewards must align with the individual’s – and the team’s – key performance indicators.

Here’s a Tip:

Here are some tips you can apply to effectively track and assess your virtual team’s performance.

Lag Indicators:

  • Ensure that team and individual goals meet the SMT criteria—Specific, Measurable, and Timebound. Verify with team members their understanding of each goal.
  • Identify data sources such as progress reports, project plans, and milestones to assess. progress.
  • Regularly share with team members the status of progress toward goals to maintain focus and, when necessary, address options for getting things back on track.

Lead Indicators:

  • Select appropriate lead indicator data sources such as observations of behaviors, stakeholder and team member feedback, and behaviors indicative of self-awareness, self-management, and relationship management.
  • Conduct regular coaching conversations with each team member to discuss progress toward their goals and address obstacles. This enables team members to make “five-degree course adjustments” before they become major. When there are goals involving more than one team member, involve them collectively.
  • Hold team members accountable for the right behaviors and directly address destructive ones. Team member behaviors are the lead indicators of team relations and engagement. When behaviors such as poor listening, personal attacks or withholding information occur, they should be addressed quickly and not allowed to fester. Use visual technology when coaching team members on behavioral issues.

Measuring and incentivizing performance are critical tools for aligning team members behind a single purpose and vision. They also lead to increased team member engagement.

Partners in Development are experts in navigating the virtual teams work environment. Our Long-Distance Leadership ModelTM provides a path for virtual and hybrid team leaders to engage their team members and Prepare, Plan, Produce, and deliver timely Results. If you’d like to obtain more actionable items and resources to implement with your team, visit http://virtualteamresources.com/

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