Like it or not, COVID-19 has made remote work more normal than ever. In the wake of restructuring nearly every part of life as we know it, teams that previously worked together in offices are working hard to develop strategies to adapt to remote work. For the most part, they’re doing a fine job.

We say “for the most part” because remote teams may allow extremely helpful–even critical–business practices fall by the wayside: namely, giving and receiving feedback. Separated by distance and limited in communication, remote teams are far less likely to take the extra step of providing feedback to one another. Perhaps seeing feedback as “non-critical” or “non-essential,” they may communicate only out of urgency or absolute necessity.

Separated by distance and limited in communication, remote teams are far less likely to take the extra step of providing feedback to one another. Click To Tweet

Here’s why that’s a problem: giving and receiving feedback is critical to running an efficient, healthy team that continues to grow and evolve. In fact, most employees want to receive feedback–a study by Harvard Business Review reported that 57% of people desired constructive feedback over pure praise. 

In this article, we’ll look at why feedback is important, how to give and receive feedback on a remote team, and how to create a feedback strategy for the long haul.

Free Download: The Remote Worker’s Guide to Healthy Communication

Feedback: The Key to Success on a Remote Team

If you’re tempted to think of feedback as non-essential – an “extra” step that can be afforded to be overlooked – think again. As a remote team, you can’t afford not to give and receive feedback for the following reasons.

Feedback Facilitates Communication

When a team gives and receives feedback regularly, that’s a strong indicator of healthy communication. By creating a space for team members to honestly and openly communicate about weaknesses in a workflow, problematic habits or behaviours, or other challenging topics, feedback nurtures better communication (even if it feels uncomfortable).

On a team where employees are working on their own remotely, this kind of communication is especially critical. When workers are encouraged to provide feedback on overall workflows as well as their colleagues, they continue to feel that they are part of a team–not just an individual unit working on their own. Their thoughts and opinions are valuable and important to the overall success of the team. 

Feedback Facilitates Communication

Feedback Helps You Identify Blind Spots

Feedback doesn’t only encourage healthy communication; it’s also an actionable tool to help strengthen the business through resolving blind spots.

One of the reasons that blind spots (such as an inefficient workflow or toxic relationship pattern between teammates) often get overlooked in a business context is that only one or two team members may actually be aware of the problem.

On a remote team, this problem is only compounded by the fact that employees typically only communicate about issues that are of an urgent or immediate nature–not an ongoing pattern that may be damaging. By creating space for feedback, however, businesses give team members the opportunity to acknowledge these weaknesses without feeling awkward.

Feedback Feeds Progress

Giving and receiving feedback can help teams evolve and grow on a macro-scale as well as a micro-scale. Feedback helps businesses to make wiser, more informed decisions about moving forward; it also helps encourage an attitude of continual learning and adjustment, and increases engagement. In fact, 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once per week. 

For teams that aren’t able to meet together–which can sap vision and motivation over time–feedback can serve as a critical source of inspiration and motivation to improve.

Feedback Creates a Healthier, More Productive Team Culture 

Healthy team cultures put people first; they value communication, passion, and integrity, and seek to help their employees grow. Some of the most well-known and influential companies in the world–such as Netflix and Google–have been able to succeed as a result of their investment in individual employees and team culture. 

Giving and receiving feedback feeds a healthy team culture by giving a voice to every member of your team and creating space to evolve and grow. Companies like U.S.-based food producer and distributor Cargill have integrated employee feedback into their everyday processes to improve performance and employee happiness. In fact, Cargill reports that feedback has increased performance by 40%–not only that, but 70% of their employees feel valued and have received helpful feedback. 

Cargill reports that feedback has increased performance by 40%–not only that, but 70% of their employees feel valued and have received helpful feedback. Click To Tweet

Feedback Strategies for Remote Teams

As mentioned, remote teams face a particular set of challenges when it comes to giving and receiving feedback. Without frequent face-to-face communication or in-person interaction, team members are unlikely to organically provide feedback to each other or to their leadership. Not only that, but remote workers typically have a lesser degree of accountability than employees who work in an office, and may be less likely to actually integrate feedback.

Fortunately, there are feedback strategies that will work for remote teams–helping them overcome the challenge of distance, remote communication, and autonomous work.

Use Nailted

One of the most effective ways to introduce a feedback strategy onto your team–remote or otherwise–is to make it a regular part of workflows with Nailted. Nailted delivers weekly feedback surveys to team members to make providing and receiving feedback both easy and normative. You can also run special campaigns for more targeted feedback concerning team members’ goals, progress, and alignment with your business. Finally, Nailted gives you actionable insight for responding to feedback and implementing real solutions. The best part? It’s all online…no in-person meetings necessary.

Try Video Call Check-Ins

It may not be realistic to host regular, one-on-one video calls to gather feedback from individual team members, but you may want to host an occasional team check-in via Zoom or Skype. This is an opportunity for team members to share feedback and address ongoing issues that may be hindering team progress or damaging workflows. Here are some tips for conducting an effective video call check-in with the whole team:

  • Encourage team members to share specific examples when giving feedback. Rather than saying, “X is a poor communicator,” for example, they can say “I was confused by the directive X gave at the end of the email on Tuesday. I had hoped for more clarification.”
  • Always look for specific solutions. If the person providing feedback is unable to provide an actionable solution to a problem, then encourage the team to collaborate to come up with one.
  • Talk about strengths and successes as well as weaknesses. You want your team to finish the call feeling motivated to do better…not discouraged and disheartened.

Make sure that you’re properly prepared in terms of technology and logistics. Provide your team members login information ahead of time, and give guidelines in terms of meeting flow and expectations. A video call check-in with the whole team should be efficient and productive–not a time-sucker.

Video Call Check-Ins

Follow Through

Finally, follow through on feedback. Because accountability may be more of a challenge on a remote team, you’ll want to develop a strategy for ensuring follow-through on actionable advice and insight collected from feedback. Whether you assign a single team member to lead out on accountability, or you send a weekly email with action items for follow-through, you’ll want to ensure that feedback doesn’t go overlooked…and that action is taken to improve both individual and corporate performance.

Don’t forget to download: The Remote Worker’s Guide to Healthy Communication

Getting the Whole (Remote) Team on Board

The more your whole team is on board with giving and receiving feedback, the more effective your overall strategy will become. Nailted ensures that feedback becomes part of regular workflows, and it introduces feedback in a way that’s convenient and non-intrusive. Nailted doesn’t focus only on “constructive” feedback; it also creates a fun weekly loop of “claps” that team members can give each other when a job is well done. Nailted can help your remote team to communicate, collaborate, and thrive through giving and receiving authentic, actionable feedback. If your team would like to try a free trial of Nailted, click here.

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