How To Make Virtual Performance Reviews Productive And Cringe-Free

Posted on December 11, 2020 by BWBacon. Tagged: Resources for Entrepreneurs, For Clients

Conducting virtual performance reviews on top of the stressors of the coronavirus and remote work is simply put, a lot. According to the Washington Post, a survey of over 300 employers by McKinsey & Co. shows unsurprisingly that 30% of companies are adapting their performance evaluations in response to challenges created by the virus, while 5% are cancelling them all together.

Another survey by Aon of 1,330 HR representatives found 47 percent had made changes to their employee’s performance goals, or were considering making changes. As every working professional is now accustom to such changes, performance reviews are just one more traditional office function that will need adjusting.

That’s why we wrote this post to examine the other side of the coin on evaluating your employee’s work this year. Depending on how they are approached, virtual performance reviews can have a positive impact on reinforcing your organization’s culture and values.

Are Performance Reviews Still Relevant In 2020?

If you’re a manager, simply saying “performance reviews” is likely to make your team cringe. Everyone has a certain level of apprehension when it comes to their boss analyzing their work over an entire year. However, people want to be successful and constructive feedback is invaluable for forwarding personal growth and success.

In an article highlighting stats about feedback, LinkedIn noted that 60% of people from one study wanted feedback on a daily or weekly basis. For those under age 30, 72% wanted more frequent feedback. And that’s all a performance review is right? They are an opportunity to deliver constructive feedback, align goals, and have a conversation about areas an employee excelled and areas where they could improve.

As an unforeseen impact, the increased check-ins and communications as a result of remote work have already led to greater alignment for many companies. 2020 has made businesses, regardless of their size, refocus on their values and consider the ways this year has impacted us all. In this way, virtual performance reviews can still be relevant to meet people where they are. Consider using reviews to gain an understanding of how to help your people do their best work despite the circumstances.

4 Tips To Keep In Mind When Planning Virtual Performance Reviews

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  1. Ask, what’s the intention?
    • First, ask yourself or your leadership team what the purpose of conducting performance reviews this year is for. Find a way to express that evaluations are a way to help your employees be stronger, more autonomous professionals.
    • If performance is a measure of success against a goal, how have your goals shifted this year? Do employees understand this shift in objectives? To ease nerves, you can provide each person with feedback beforehand or an explanation of how they will be evaluated.
  2. Seek out more information.
    • Typically, managers use observational insights to assess how productive or effective someone is based on work they are doing right next to them on an ongoing basis. Remote work will require making different assessments with multiple sources of information.
    • Reach out to other managers, coworkers, and project collaborators to gather more data on how someone has been working. Or, ask the employee to prepare some notes on projects they are proud of their work on this year. It’s possible based on workflow changes you may not even be aware of how someone contributed to a certain project or goal.
  3. Help build realistic goals.
    • As we face 2021 with continued uncertainty, building realistic, short term goals can ease the burden of that dread. It is about striking a balance between giving someone guidance and expectations, while helping them build a career or skillset also based on their own goals.
    • Endless studies show people are more invested in productivity when they feel supported and invested in in return. Aim to have a two-way conversation about where employees see growth in themselves.
  4. Emphasize compassion and recognition.
    • Be careful of falling into the trap of assuming that your stars are doing great and those who struggle are doing worse, as it may not be the case. Top performers could be feeling burnout and not sharing that stress with anyone, and others may have picked up slack where you least expected.
    • Make time for asking questions about reactions to feedback like, “what resonated with you? How will you use these reflections to create a new focus or goal moving forward? What do you need to be successful in this role?” Despite echoes on Zoom and potential interruptions that come with the territory on virtual performance reviews, these questions get to the nitty gritty of making progress.
    • And finally, give employees the recognition they deserve. People need to hear how they are appreciated and how their ability to keep going despite a global pandemic is admirable and valuable. Passing on that message face to face (even digitally) is important.

There’s No One Size Fits All

When planning virtual performance reviews, remember one size does not fit all. Show compassion, and come from a place of knowing that everyone has had to take on additional responsibilities that no one could have predicted. People have reacted differently to working remotely, and those feelings have also changed as time goes on. In short, checking in on a personal level matters, and your employees won’t forget it.

On that note, virtual performance reviews can actually ease some of the anxiety of an in-person meeting where someone can’t glance at their notes or can be seen wringing their hands. Perhaps Zoom performance reviews will live on in the future to give people a better chance to prepare and have a productive conversation.

And finally, it’s fair to say that while we all have experienced changes in the last nine months, leaders have had the back cart on the roller coaster, absorbing the most whiplash of supporting their teams throughout this massive upheaval. Our hats go off to those doing what they can to make on-the-fly adjustments, and bring flexibility and kindness to their decision making this year.

Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.

If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!