How to Tackle Remote Performance Reviews

Let’s face it: performance reviews are never easy. They often inspire anxiety in employees and management alike. Managers must juggle being honest with being kind when communicating their staff’s successes, shortcomings, and growth trajectories. Attempting to do all of this remotely adds a new set of challenges. 

Due to the current climate, many people’s job responsibilities may have shifted, which can cause employees to feel uneasy about how well they’re performing their jobs. Furthermore, your constructive feedback to your team might take on a different tone than intended when delivered via an unconventional medium.

So, how can you evaluate candidates in a manner that is sincere, compassionate, and valuable on a virtual platform? Here are our top four tips:

1. Reflect on What You’re Evaluating

When it comes to assessing candidates, take a moment to consider what goals or standards you’re comparing them against. Unless you’re one of the few companies thriving during the recession, your organization’s large scale objectives are likely different then than they are now, and individual expectations should be changed to reflect that. 

Instead of judging whether your team met obsolete goals, focus on how each individual has responded to the current crisis. Have they cooperated with and helped out teammates? Have they demonstrated engagement despite their new work environment? Have they maintained a can-do attitude even in the face of adversity? Be sure to praise and reward employees who demonstrated these qualities, as they are essential to an organization’s survival during a crisis.

2. Seek Out Alternate Opinions

When you’re working remotely, it’s easy to assume that your best performers are still completing exceptional work and your less-productive team members are still struggling. Without as much supervision, it can be tougher to assess shifts in employee behavior. To generate a more holistic view of an individual and reduce any personal bias, it’s important to solicit other viewpoints.

Ask an employee’s’ team members about how communicative that person has been while working online or whether they’ve pulled their weight on recent projects. Furthermore, requesting that the employee give a self-evaluation gives them the opportunity to showcase their successes and explain any shortcomings.

3. Host Reviews Face-to-Face (Virtually)

While it’s usually easier to deliver feedback (especially negative) via email or phone call, it’s important to try to hold performance reviews face-to-face for the sake of your staff. Chatting with employees on a platform like Zoom or Teams allows you to relay voice tone, facial expressions, and body language, eliminating the misunderstandings that sometimes arise through written correspondence or even phone calls. It also conveys respect to that individual – you’re willing to carve time out of your schedule to facilitate a two-way conversation about their performance. Finally, holding your reviews face-to-face can give you insight into your employee’s living (and now work) environment, making it easier for you to empathize with their situation.

4. Be Compassionate

Finally and most importantly, be compassionate with your team when doing your performance reviews. During these dystopian circumstances, employees likely have a lot on their minds besides work. For many, childcare services have diminished, relatives have fallen ill, finances have become unstable, cohabitants provide constant distraction, and fear of virus exposure provides a constant anxiety.

If one of your team members is sparsely communicating, missing deadlines, or falling short of goals, be constructive, not condemning. If you can, give these employees a second chance. Ask them about their lives to see what might be causing this poor performance, offer support, and provide them with a grace period to turn their behavior around. If the employee is able to bounce back during that time, it will build loyalty to your organization for giving them a second chance.

With remote work becoming the new norm, managers everywhere are learning to adapt to remote performance reviews. Assessing employee performance during unprecedented times – and then conveying honest, empathetic feedback on a new and unpracticed platform – can pose many challenges. Altering expectations, seeking out diverse opinions, hosting reviews face-to-face, and practicing empathy with employees will help you ace your performance reviews this year.