October 14, 2020
Conducting Remote Performance Reviews
It will be a challenge to conduct performance evaluations over the next several months. Managers may have concerns about fairly assessing employee performance when they have little day-to-day contact because they are working from home. In addition, managers may struggle with how to weigh employee performance against the unusual ups and downs employees have faced over the past several months, like flexing work hours to accommodate for a child’s remote learning or lack of regular daycare.
Although it may be a more difficult task, it is imperative that managers continue to provide regular feedback and assessment to their employees through performance reviews. A survey conducted by PWC in June indicates that 55% of organizations will allow employees to work remotely at least one day per week after the pandemic. Managers may need to prepare for a new normal when conducting performance evaluations.
Below are some tips managers may want to consider when providing remote appraisals during these challenging times:
Set the appropriate tone – Use video conferencing to conduct evaluations and make sure that the cameras are on. Pay attention to body language, and encourage back and forth communication to ensure things are not being lost in translation.
Increase the frequency of reviews – Employees working from home can often feel detached from the broader organization. More frequent reviews focused on relevant issues (e.g., employee development and needs, providing updates on how the organization is doing as a whole) may help keep employees engaged.
Be cautious of your perceptions – Oftentimes, the perception is that employees working from home work fewer hours than employees in the office. Many employees working from home actually put in more hours because the lines between work and personal life often blur. They frequently stay connected after hours by checking email, texting, and messaging. According to a recent research study conducted by Meyers Briggs, one quarter of individuals felt that “always being on” interfered with their personal/family life, and one fifth said it led to mental exhaustion. Managers should use the evaluation period to check in and make sure their employees are not feeling burned out and that they have the tools necessary to do their job.
Measure output – Some of the subtle signals used to evaluate employees are unavailable when we work remotely, making it more difficult to measure their work. Therefore, managers may need to check in with other team members, supervisors, clients or customers to help make an accurate evaluation.
In addition to the above considerations, here are some additional best practices for an effective performance review, whether in-person or remote:
- Provide employees plenty of notice and block out enough time for the meeting.
- Revisit the employee’s job description to ensure that it is still accurate.
- Provide well-defined employee goals in line with the company’s core values and goals.
- Utilize clearly defined metrics that show that expectations have, or have not, been met.
- Ensure mutual agreement between employee, manager and company.
Performance management should be an ongoing process that allows for discussion, improvement, and adjustments based on employee performance.
Sources: Harvard Business Review, “How to do Performance Reviews – Remotely” HRD, “Guide to Conducting Remote Performance Reviews Effectively” 7Geese Blog, “ A Guide to Conducting Remote Performance Reviews in 2020”
HR/AA consultants are available to work with you on a project, interim or ongoing basis including assistance with understanding, implementing and administering best practices related to the current COVID-19 challenges we are facing.