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Lessons from FMA's Convention – Feedback Loops for Teleworkers

Members from the Federal Managers Association (FMA) descended upon Pentagon City this week for their 77th annual training seminar.

With a theme of "Building the Government of Tomorrow," this four-day seminar featured speakers from OPM, OMB, and EEO, as well as a keynote address from Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA).

FEDmanager was honored to be among those exhibiting at the convention, and took advantage of the opportunity to sit in on a few of the training sessions.

Tuesday afternoon, Rebecca S. Ayers, Ph.D., Manager, Performance Management Solutions, HR Solutions, Office of Personnel Management, taught a session on employee feedback best practices and how to build camaraderie among a team of employees who telework.

Ms. Ayers herself is the manager of a team who teleworks and she said it is a constant struggle to make everyone feel included and supported. If you find yourself in a similar situation, Ms. Ayers recommends encouraging your team to communicate often via instant messages, and plan to hold many virtual meetings or teleconferences, and use document sharing applications for collaboration.

When it comes to providing your employees with feedback, Ms. Ayers said to follow the feedback cycle of planning, monitoring, rating, and rewarding for best results.

When you are faced with an underperforming employee who needs a nudge, begin by considering the cause of the problem. Are the standards to which you are holding this person clearly communicated? Does the employee understand the mission of the company and their respective department? After taking this into consideration, begin thinking about the best way to deliver such feedback.

Ms. Ayers noted the important differences between formal and informal feedback, and when each is most appropriate. While formal feedback tends to occur behind closed doors, informal feedback can take on a number of forms, including: water cooler chats, an impromptu call or email, or a team meeting.<\/p>\r\n

When giving either form of feedback, she highlighted the importance of the "Feedback Circle" where the conversation begins with positive feedback, moves into constructive criticism, and finishes on a good note again.

No matter how go about providing your staff with feedback, Ms. Ayers said it is crucial to document the conversation and follow-up the conversation with an email.

Even if all your employees are star performers, there will come a time when you need to deliver constructive feedback, and planning ahead for that day will equip you with the tools you need to go about it in the most successful manner.

For more information about the annual FMA training seminar, visit their site: Federal Managers Association.

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