Conducting Performance Reviews for Your Remote Marketing Staff

Image by PDPics.
Image by PDPics.

In the fast-paced world of startups, you only have room for employees who can keep up. The pressure is doubled for your marketers. As they’re responsible for your growth, only a high-performing team will help get you to the next step in the startup lifecycle.

How do you make sure your marketers are performing at their peak? This is where performance reviews come in. For companies with employees dispersed around the world, however, conducting employee evaluations have their own challenges.

Here are a few tips to give effective performance reviews for your remote marketers:

Don’t just focus on time sheets.

With remote teams, you can’t realistically measure employee dedication based on attendance. Due to the changing day-to-day task of each marketer, number of hours worked don’t necessarily indicate productivity, either. When you can’t evaluate performance using time, you need a change of priorities.

According to Keith Ferrazi, CEO of research institute Ferrazi Greenlight, managers should focus on the “what” and “how” of work, not the “where” and “when”. Measure according to goals set, accomplished, and results rendered. In this way, “you move your employee from a “time-based scale” to a “value-based scale”” says software developer Brandon Savage.

Of course, you shouldn’t write out behavior. As you won’t reward employees who follow the rules but don’t produce, you shouldn’t compensate employees who break the rules just to get ahead, either. You can set up days where you monitor a remote employee’s process just to see if they are still aligned with company policy. You can use a tool like WebEx to watch multiple video feeds simultaneously.

Identify the most important performance indicators.

For each marketing role, there are different key performance indicators. Choose which metrics best shows productivity and effectiveness and use that as basis for your quantitative evaluation. You can use tools like BetterWorks to measure marketing objectives and each marketer’s results to see if both individual and big-picture goals are being met.

The Content Marketing Institute’s marketing director, Cathy McPhillips, suggests: “When putting your measurement program in place, start by deciding on how frequently you’ll collect your data.” For marketing teams, monthly audits will not only tell you a team member’s productivity, it can also reveal if the strategies in place are working.

Make evaluations based on various input.

It’s hard to make assessments when you don’t see or even interact with your employee every day. In order to make a fair evaluation, you need a well-rounded impression of your marketer. Consider the collaborative nature of marketing teams when you make individual evaluations. How are they faring in a remote setup? Do they work well with the rest of the team?

GitHub engineering manager, Phil Haack, considers self-evaluations and peer evaluations apart from his own. “The point of that was to help me understand how people saw themselves, how others saw them, and how I saw them and see if there's a big disconnect there.”

Pair off your marketers depending on who works closely with whom. Your content marketer frequently collaborates with the graphic designer. Have them evaluate each other if they are not directly under project managers. You can use tools like Appraisd, which offers features custom built for manager, peer, and self-assessments.

Provide regular feedback and make them frequent.

Remote team members benefit from frequent feedback. “It's easy to assume the worst about your work when you don't hear otherwise.” says Jeremy DuVall, happiness engineer for Automattic. When they’re thousands of miles away, communication keeps them in the loop. Whether it’s compliment or criticism, your remote marketers will appreciate the observation.

You do not have the luxury to wait for semi-annual reviews to point out what your employee needs to do to pick up the slack. For Formstack CEO Chris Byers, feedback should happen sooner rather than later. “If someone is underperforming or having an issue, you need to address it right away, not save it for a review that’s happening months down the road.”

Use tools like TeamOnTheRun that provide secure features to communicate private and confidential information between you and your employee.

Frequent feedback and regular reviews are especially crucial for marketing employees. You need them to deliver results. If there is something in their performance or process they can optimize to reach their (and your) goals, you need to communicate this at the earliest opportunity.

Are there other employee evaluation tips that worked for you?

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Bolton Remote helps businesses grow with dedicated remote teams. To find out more about remote staffing, visit