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#WFH: What’s the Magic Formula?

The use of global teams is common practice in the 21st century workplace. This has the positive effect of allowing organizations to bring the best players in the world together but the negative effects of eliminating proximity, removing or severely limiting visual cues, emotional detachments, and time and space constraints. It also puts a new light on operational knowledge within a company and across organizations. It forces people to share knowledge across the boundaries of distance and time. Operating virtually effects both unconscious knowledge and explicit knowledge and how it is perceived and shared. Knowledge sharing is always a challenge. Virtual environments pose even greater challenges for teams and leaders. Think of them as a three dimensional Rubik’s cube where members can be in the same place, same time and same organization or they can be different on any of the planes.

Performance appraisals are only meaningful when they inspire, connect and contribute to success. Leadership and management are well-re-searched 20th century concepts. They are important factors in any organization’s success or demise. The success of the individual can be linked directly to the success of the organization. Measures like turnover rate, employee satisfaction and learning tell us a lot about the culture and the long-term prospects for individuals to succeed. This can be translated from leadership right down to the individual and their ability to create and sustain their performance.

When organizations attempt to measure the performance of individuals it is usually labeled a performance appraisal (PA). Performance appraisal and performance appraisal systems come in many forms. Systems were installed and semi-annual and annual performance appraisals gave HR a way to feel important. They became hugely popular, although mildly effective, in the 20th century F2F workplace. By now, many companies have given up on the per-formance appraisal and thrown them out. None of it really translated very well to the virtual environment, which is unfortunate because in a virtual workplace interactive feedback it paramount to success.

The PA process calls for the alignment of desired individual performance objectives with larger business objectives. Sometimes this includes appropriate rewards to increase motivation. Too often this is a rote process that is casually and poorly done. Rath-er than being a path to mutually agreed upon success, it is an annual ordeal that is time consuming, irritating and ineffective. Employees endure it be-cause it is tied to promotion and monetary rewards. Very little is really gained when the PA is little more than an empty exercise. The PA is not the only fac-tor in organizational effectiveness. A sure way to tell how well the PA process is serving the organization is to look at the attrition rates.

Turnover results in the loss of valuable employees, as well as the costs associated with disengagement and hiring new people. Research supports that fact that there is a cyclic relationship between PA, rewards, satisfaction and motivation. Whether for-mal or informal, a feedback system free of judgment and opinions is essential for employee success. In a virtual workplace, feedback and mutually agreed upon expectations are possible only through inter-activity. It’s a two-way street. The leaders inform the virtual teams and the teams inform the leaders. Communication is the way performance gaps are discussed and eliminated. This interactivity is essential to meeting or exceeding business objectives.

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