During one of my many recent conversations with our Contingent Workforce Strategies Council members around the world, I was asked how to deal with challenges of program performance amid this virtual world. Challenges essentially arise from supply chain motivations, lack of physical engagement and inability to build rapport in the way that used to be possible before Covid-19.
Even the best contingent workforce programs — with the highest levels of program governance, controls, data points, supply chains and people — can struggle to deliver for a variety of reasons. When trying to identify the cause of underperformance, we look at elements such as data, trends, micro-macro influences, pay rates and sourcing channels — all of which are valid, but they don’t address the root cause.
Ultimately, program performance is a direct result of people performance, and that is maximized through motivation and the basics of good people management.
Whether there is a direct or dotted reporting line to you, there are four basic principles of good people management that every manager should adopt as the foundation to derive maximum engagement and performance. They are:
One-on-ones. At least once a week, take 30 minutes to speak with every member of your team: 10 minutes about them, 10 minutes about you and 10 minutes about work. Some say remote working has driven us apart; however, I believe that it has in many ways brought us closer together. We are seeing each other in our home environments rather than simply in our work environments. Each of us has a “natural” state in our personal lives and an “adapted” state in the workplace. Sometimes these states are close together and sometimes they are wide apart. And these lines are being blurred, which is a fantastic thing. I referred to this during a recent podcast  about the future of onboarding.
Feedback. Feedback should not be limited to the end-of-year appraisal. Be sure to give both positive and constructive short, sharp feedback bites on a regular basis. I remember a time when, as a manager, I used the following method to keep myself on task for giving feedback: I would start the day with six small stones in my right-hand trouser pocket and make an effort to transfer every stone to my left-hand trouser pocket by the end of the day, transferring a stone each time I gave feedback. Nobody ever knew I did this. Feedback does not have to be long winded, just a brief comment about something that went well or something they might want to give consideration to in the future, such as how somebody might have perceived something that they said or did. Give your feedback briefly and then move on. Do it regularly, keep in balance and make it part of your management DNA.
Coaching. People appreciate coaching from someone they respect and admire. By repeating the fundamentals of people management basics, people will be only too pleased when you offer a helping hand, a few words of advice or maybe even set aside more regular time for coaching to assist in their personal development and, ultimately, their performance.
Delegation. Finally, people feel respected when their manager delegates some of their responsibility to them. There is a feeling of trust and wellbeing that somebody believes in them enough to offer them additional responsibility to do something for which their manager is ultimately accountable. This isn’t about simply delegating tasks; it’s about sending someone to represent you in a meeting, it’s about giving someone the responsibility to present key information at a senior meeting to raise their profile and to give them recognition for the work that they have done. It’s about making them feel important.
So, when it comes to program management in this virtual world, and seeking world-class performance from your supply chain, think of these management basics and how you could apply and adapt them, even to those situations where people do not report directly to you.
Think about how you could practice the basics of one-on-ones, feedback, coaching and delegation to engender a work environment of maximum engagement, effort and ultimately performance.
Even those programs with the most fantastic governance, processes and people will struggle from time to time because of macro or micro influences around the world. But at least you know that you will be getting the best out of your people; in addition, you, as a manager or virtual manager, will benefit hugely from your enhanced relationships.