Connection and Performance Management in the Hybrid World

August 24th, 2022

Hi RedThread Fam,

If you've been reading the industry literature recently, you've probably seen one or several pieces on the role of connections and relationships at work. You can add this newsletter to that list. A couple of months ago, we published our report on performance (PM) for hybrid work. Based on data collected in 2021, it was one of the more fascinating studies we have done on PM for a couple of reasons:

  • It allowed us to compare 3 sets of data collected in 2019 (pre-covid), early 2020 (beginning of the pandemic), and pandemic peak (summer / fall 2021)
  • Culture and capability of managers continue to be important factors for driving performance, although companies need to think more broadly and target a broader range of practices under each.

But the biggest reason we were excited about the study was that we saw connection emerge as a critical factor that impacts PM for the first time. When combined with culture and capability of managers in organizations, employees were 4 times more likely to give their employer a positive NPS score and 1.6 times more likely to report high engagement.

There has been a growing focus on the importance of connection-building during the past 2 years (we just launched a study on it as well). One of the reasons it has come under the spotlight is because genuine relationships within a company can help create a workforce that's generally more satisfied and less stressed. Another reason is the loneliness experienced by remote workers, which could impact engagement and performance. Finally, the loss of networks and relationships outside one's group or team could make collaboration a challenge.

How do leaders build a connection? One way is through check-ins. Our research shows that daily check-ins increased by 8% from 2019 to 2021, while monthly structured conversations increased by 10% from 2019 to 2021.

This makes sense. As companies shifted to more continuous goal-setting approaches, they needed frequent conversations between managers and employees. Also, leaders fearing that employees might feel cut off from company culture likely made a greater effort to engage employees through regular check-ins. Additionally, as managers lacked previous levels of visibility into an employee's work—it resulted in managers speaking with their team more regularly. Finally, the informal means used before the pandemic to provide "in-the-moment" feedback to employees disappeared—leading managers to set more frequent conversations.

While a step in the right direction, our study revealed a greater desire for conversations among employees. Seventy percent of employees want more daily or weekly check-ins than they're having with their managers.

We believe that building and managing connections will continue to be important for PM—if not more so—as hybrid work becomes a reality for many. This is why we recently launched our new PM survey. Our goal is to find out which practices organizations are doubling down on or letting go of in the hybrid work world. And like everything we do, we want you to be a part of it.

There are 3 ways we seek your participation:

  1. Take our survey before August 29. We will donate $20 to American Red Cross's Disaster Relief Fund for every response completed!
  1. Join our roundtable on September 8 for a highly collaborative discussion.
  1. Let us interview you. Reach out to me at [email protected].

We look forward to your participation!

Priyanka photo
Priyanka Mehrotra
Research Lead at RedThread Research