I have 7 direct reports that are in 6 diffrent states.  I'm having trouble with providing daily feedback to them when I don't see or talk with them daily.  During field rides with them each month, I give lots of feedback on things I observe in the sales calls.  How do I go about increasing feedback on a daily basis when I am not observing behaviors on a daily basis.  What do I say?

ses's picture

I feel your pain!  I've led some remote teams in other contexts, and my current workplace has a mix of local and remote members on my team.  Feedback is hard, feedback for directs with whom I have limited face time is much harder.

Here are some things that have been helpful to me, YMMV...I'd be interested to learn if you've figured out anything new since you posted this, too.

  • Look for feedback-worthy items in emails, online chat, reports, or whatever else crosses my desk.
  • Track how much feedback I give and when: a steady trickle is better than an occasional firehose in terms of improving performance, and I have found that I start to see more when I force myself to meet a feedback quota.
  • Try to space out regular project check-ins, one-on-ones, and other recurring comms so that you see (at least by teleconference) each employee at least 2-3 days/week most weeks.
  • Work on when and how to give feedback to fit into the way you all work.  For example, it sounds like your team all spend time driving...if you know when they'll be on the road (and the scenario allows for a headset and some focus), you probably have a captive audience while that employee is behind the wheel.  I have one employee that I try to catch in the mornings, because that's just better with him, and another whom I try to catch after a project meeting or similar has ended, before he's had time to get absorbed in something else.  "Hey, can you stay on the line for a few minutes?" or "Have time for a 2-minute call?" works well.

I'm still figuring this all out.  Let me know if you've found anything I've missed!