Performance manage your flexible employees

Many HR teams are able to convince
their boards that flexible working brings benefits to the business case, but
few know what to do on a day-to-day basis.

Performance management
is one of the key areas to consider and one in which HR can take the lead. It
is important to set clear and measurable performance criteria, especially in
the case of flexible working.

It also needs to be
established from the outset how the nature or emphasis of the job may have
changed. Should some of the performance indicators be prioritised slightly
differently from a competency point of view? Areas such as communication,
planning and organising may need to be highlighted as particularly important in
order to achieve the job effectively through a more flexible pattern.

If there are any flaws
in the processes, flexible working has the potential to magnify them. It will
also be important to develop softer skills, such as interpersonal sensitivity
and awareness of morale and motivation.

You need to establish
regular communication channels as you may have less contact with your team
day-to-day in the office. As a manager of a flexible worker, you may want to
ensure those processes are happening, perhaps in a more structured way.

Communication should
be considered not only in terms of objectives, but also in the overall identity
and building of the team. If people are working in different ways, you have to
work harder at making everyone feel part of the whole.  

The flexible worker
needs to be accountable. If they are working remotely, or fewer days, there
needs to be a regular catch-up opportunity, particularly in the early stages.

Frequent progress
reviews need to take place and the manager must feel he or she is getting
sufficient information and feedback on how that individual is performing,
especially as this may not be coming through the more traditional routes. It
may mean a more creative approach to how and where reviews take place. When you
meet for more operational reasons you may need to put time aside for a general

The individual and the
manager should also encourage feedback from peers, clients and subordinates on
how the arrangement is working.

HR support should be
given to the manager to encourage creativity in the way they achieve the team’s
objectives to up the dividend offered by flexible working. The line manager
needs to be briefed, supported and acknowledged for the extent to which they
are supporting flexible work. It should be emphasised that this is something
the organisation rewards and recognises as a key management skill.

By Carol Savage, managing
director, Flexecutive

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