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Effective Performance Reviews in a Remote World

Even outside of a catastrophic pandemic environment, performance reviews can conjure stress, tension, and anxiety. Add in COVID 19 into the equation, and conducting effective performance reviews becomes even more challenging as most businesses have shifted to operating remotely whenever possible. What was once was an in-person exchange is now happening less intimately as attendees talk to one another through a computer screen.

Tensions can be high for many reasons, as managers have a challenging balancing act in front of them. As a manager, you battle the delicate balance between objectively evaluating an employee’s performance and being empathetic to whatever situation they might be in, as a result of the world happening around them. So how can you conduct effective performance reviews in a remote world?

  1. Adopt Different KPIs

If you have an employee who was previously on-site, the KPIs you once measured them up against will be different from a remote standpoint. For example, a productivity score or evaluation is going to vary depending on whether someone is on-site or remote. Your organization needs to determine what those differences look like. Also, certain goals set prior to the Coronavirus crisis have to be adjusted because the original plan created to accomplish these goals has drastically shifted, or the road to get there can no longer be traveled.

  1. Read Body Language and Tone

During the actual performance evaluation, you will need a heightened sense of awareness as you observe your direct report. Zoom fatigue is a real thing, and it’s important to keep the conversation engaging and not dominate the discussion. More of an effort also needs to be put in when it comes to being personable. Due to proximity, in-person chats are going to be more personal, naturally, so it’s essential to try to encourage that aspect of the review as much as possible. Comfortability leads to a more honest, productive conversation.

  1. Be Honest but Tread Lightly

A performance review is just that, a review of someone’s performance. When it comes to confronting employees who have been poor performers, demanding improvement isn’t the way to go about encouraging development, especially during a time of crisis. Instead, pick your battles. Take a look at someone’s negative performance and evaluate the soft skills in comparison. Are they employees who have the right attitude or other intangibles that could make them a high performer? If so, be empathetic and put together a plan together to help them reach their potential.

  1. REALLY Celebrate High Performers

On the flip side, if you have someone who is killing it, especially during a challenging time, make sure you express how well they are doing. Talented employees always have another place to go, so it’s important to share your appreciation for their contribution and success. Also, give them a sense of security, mainly if something is happening on the outside to make employees feel concerned about job security.

  1. Mentally Prepare Direct Reports

Even before the pandemic hit, working from home was a norm or becoming a norm for many companies. If your organization will be conducting future operations within a primarily remote environment, it’s good to prepare your direct reports. It’s also your job to set them up for success by creating a strategy to achieve the goals they need to within a remote work situation.

What other tips can be helpful for managers to practice as they conduct remote performance reviews now and in the future? Join the conversation on LinkedIn and check out HR Policies and Company Culture in a Remote World.