Creating a Performance Appraisal System for the Virtual Workforce

Having a virtual workforce can save a company money and help them accomplish more during the workday. But that workforce will not perform as well on a long-term basis if the employees that make it up do not feel appreciated. Rewarding them and recognizing them for specific areas of value that they bring to the workforce is important. Beyond that, they also need to understand whether they are doing a good job or whether there are changes that they need to make.

In order for a virtual workforce to gauge how it is doing, a performance appraisal system will need to be in place. This will be different from the kind of appraisal system that is used for traditional employees, simply because of the global and independent way in which a virtual workforce operates. As something different from a traditionally operated model for building and maintaining a workforce, many aspects of the virtual workforce will be different. Here are some appraisal considerations.

The Virtual Workforce Includes Cultural Differences

One of the most important things to remember about a virtual workforce is that it is generally made up of a mix of people from around the globe. Because of that, there are cultural differences that must be addressed. Not every culture understands performance appraisals in the same way, and in some cultures the way information is given to an employee is different than in other cultures. A manager who is creating a performance appraisal system for their virtual workforce employees needs to be culturally sensitive so information can be imparted in a way that an employee can internalize and accept more easily.

Web and Computer Usage Activity Can Be Tracked

One of the ways a manager can help create a performance appraisal system that is designed for the virtual workforce is by tracking computer usage and web activity. While some may feel that this is "spying" on the employee, it is designed to help ensure that all employees on the workforce are doing their jobs the right way, and spending their time on the things the company wants them to be doing. Those who do so will generally have a better performance appraisal than those who squander their time or the company's resources. By tracking this usage, a manager can clearly show an employee if there is a problem.

An Appraisal System Must Be Fair, Just, and Balanced

No matter how far around the globe a virtual workforce employee is from their manager, that manager must make sure that the performance appraisal system that applies to that employee also applies to all other employees. In short, everything has to be fair. With cultural issues, location concerns, and other factors in the mix it can sometimes be a bit of a balancing act, but making an appraisal system fair for everyone is very important. If a manager is unsure how to do that, it is best if they work with others who have created these kinds of systems before. That can allow them to develop a system that addresses everything correctly.

Visual Images Can Have a Strong Impact on Performance

Many people are very visual, and images provoke emotion. Of course, images area also very good at conveying information, which means that they can be extremely useful when it comes to a performance appraisal system for a virtual workforce. Many of the employees are people who the manager has never met in person, but who that manager needs to build a working relationship with. To do that, charts, graphs, illustrations, and other types of images can all be used to show how the company and the virtual workforce are performing and where improvement is going to be needed most to secure a good, healthy future.

Setting SMART Goals to Be Met By Workforce Members

SMART goals are very important. This is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Specific. When a manager gives a performance appraisal and sets goals for the employee or the entire virtual workforce to meet, the goals should be based on the SMART requirements. Otherwise, the goals are vague and it can be hard to see how to meet those particular goals. An unclear goal is really just a dream, idea, or wish, and making it happen can be something that quickly begins to feel unrealistic. Managers who can set strong goals during a performance appraisal have a better chance of seeing success.

A 360 Performance Assessment Creates a Comprehensive Picture

Asking just one person who a particular employee in the virtual workforce is performing is not a realistic way to get a clear picture of that performance. Instead, it is very important to take a 360 degree look at the employee and their place within that workforce. This can be done by studying various aspects of their performance and looking at their interactions with others. They will have areas where they will be very strong, and other areas that might not be as high in quality. A comprehensive look at the employee will show the areas where they really need to improve, and those can be discussed during the appraisal.

Performance Reviews Are Important Opportunities for Growth

The main thing to remember about creating a performance appraisal system for a virtual workforce is that this is not a plan to criticize employees. While there are certainly areas where employees can improve, that improvement is really at the core of the appraisal system. A manager who has never met an employee in person can still know a great deal about that employee. From what the manager learns, they can then create a plan to help the employee improve.

That will be a benefit to the manager, the employee, and all of the virtual workforce, along with the entire company as a whole. Performance appraisals should show the virtual workforce what it is doing right, and help guide it toward higher quality in any areas where it may be lacking.

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