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5 Best Strategies for Conducting Remote Employee Performance Reviews

Throughout this pandemic, businesses have had to overcome many obstacles and adapt to new remote working environments and the processes that come along with working remotely. One of these processes that employers may not have dealt with in the remote setting yet is employee reviews. Employers already know that a performance review is a key tool for boosting employee engagement and retention, so it is important that this tool is not forgotten even when employees are working remotely. Here’s the 5 best strategies to help make sure that your team members are getting the feedback they need.


1. Before the review, ask employees to complete a self-reflection assessment questionnaire that will enable employees to address certain points they may want to bring up at their performance review. Managers will already be prepared with a list of topics to discuss, so allowing employees the opportunity to come up with points they want to discuss can help increase the productivity of the performance review. Ask employees to reflect on any feedback they previously received and ask them to provide examples of how they implemented that feedback to increase their productivity. Managers may also ask employees to make a concrete list of their accomplishments, which may include any tasks they took on, goals they reached or exceeded, deals they closed, or great feedback they have received. This list may remind managers of an employee’s success that they would have otherwise overlooked or forgotten about. Employees can also address areas where they think they need improvement and to develop plans to help them improve certain areas of their work. Managers can then help to provide any additional support resources that the employee might need to help them make those improvements. This step prior to the performance review is important for employers to take because it enables the employee to actively participate in the meeting rather than passively listen to their manager’s feedback. Don’t forget at the end of the employee’s performance review to allow time for the employee to provide feedback to their managers on what is working and how the employee could be better supported.


2. Meet with your managers and supervisors who are conducting employee performance reviews prior to the start of reviews to discuss how the company wants to approach performance reviews. If your primary reason for conducting a performance review remotely is due to the pandemic, recognize that your reason for doing the review might require a shift in your approach. Employers may not necessarily be looking to weed out poor performers or decide who gets a raise during this pandemic, rather employers may be looking to strengthen their organization’s culture and reinforce its values. The pandemic can make this process of performance reviews feel even more uncertain so an employer’s goal should be to focus specifically on growth toward a common organizational goal, along with professional and career growth of the individual employee.


3. Conduct remote employee performance reviews using a video tool. Since a large part of our communication comes from body language, for managers looking to understand how their employees are coping with remote work, and receiving feedback, the use of a video conferencing tool is necessary. Before the actual performance review, ensure employees test out the video tool to make sure it works so that the meeting time is not spent trying to establish a good internet connection. Employers should remember that it is important to maintain the normality of these one-on-one meetings during a pandemic such as this one and best way to maintain normality is to ensure there are no interruptions caused by tech issues. Most importantly, employers do not want a technical issue to be used as an excuse not to move forward with the performance review.


4. Employee performance reviews should prioritize performance and flexibility. Now that many employees are working remotely, they are likely missing out on the opportunity to discuss their career goals and personal growth with their managers and supervisors. The pandemic has caused many employers to take a myopic approach to viewing and assessing employee performance. But taking that singular approach is doing a disservice to your employees. Employers are forgetting that the real currency of their success is derived from the success of their employees, so employers should be utilizing these performance reviews as a tool to assess what can be done to increase the success of their employees. Additionally, employers should also take into consideration that the pandemic has made it difficult for managers to assess performance relative to the company’s goals. For instance, it is unfair to judge key performance metrics set prior to the start of the pandemic, as many aspects of the business has been out of your employees’ control. Instead, the focus of an employee’s performance review should be on everyone’s growth and learning and how they adapted to the circumstances in relation to their job responsibilities. For example, employers may want to shift from assessing the transactional key performance indicators (such as projects completed, sales closed and hours worked), to assessing behavioral traits that can be rewarded.


5. At the end of the performance review, managers should setup and implement a consistent feedback system to be used in the future. Since many remote workers often feel isolated and unsure of where they stand performance-wise, this is an important step in the performance review that will increase the value of the performance review. Setting up regular check-ins throughout the year (maybe monthly or quarterly) before the next performance review is a good tool for managers to use to provide employees with real-time feedback and to address topics discussed in the employee’s last performance review that might need continued work to reach previous goals set. Employers need to remember that remote employees will require managers to be more proactive to check in with them and to provide effective feedback.


When approaching the process of conducting employee performance reviews, employers should keep in mind that due to the remote working environment, the process may seem a little different, but it can be even more effective if done correctly.