Giving feedback to a remote colleague

By: Clare Kavanagh, Marketing and Administration Assistant 5 days ago Categories: Blog

Working in a team with members who are spread out in different locations is becoming increasingly common, but also very challenging. Without regular communication in person it can be difficult sometimes to gauge how your relationship is going with another colleague.

When you don’t have the benefit of informal office interactions to build rapport and trust, it can be difficult to approach feedback. Try not to let concerns build up or to avoid issues as this can create resentment. According to Harvard Business Review, there are a few techniques you can adopt to deliver feedback to a remote colleague and help the relationship to get back on track:

  • Even if issues or concerns have been building for a while, don’t just spring them on a remote colleague out of the blue. The element of surprise generally provokes defensiveness in people and can erode trust.
  • Ideally when you have the conversation, try and use some form of video in addition to the audio, such as Skype or WebEx. Facial expressions and body language can help to convey positive intentions.
  • When it comes to delivering the feedback, don’t treat them any differently to how you would do someone in front of you at the office.
  • Ask open-ended questions that engages the colleague in dialogue and helps you to understand each other’s perceptions.
  • Instead, plan time with the person for a detailed conversation about what is going well in your working relationship and what can be improved.
  • If you do only have the option of a phone call, then make sure to make it clear that you want to make the relationship work for both of you and that you’re open to giving and receiving feedback.
  • Provide crisp and clear observations of the colleague’s behaviour and describe the impact that the behaviour is having on you.

It is only human nature to put off difficult or uncomfortable conversations. This can be even more tempting with remote team mates and they can easily slip out of the loop - ‘out of sight out of mind’. Get issues out in the open as soon as possible, just as you would with someone you see in the office every day, before they affect your relationships and ability achieve shared objectives.