March 05, 2021
15 Tips for Conducting Effective Virtual Performance Reviews
As long as companies are doing business, employee performance and productivity conversations will not go away—regardless of where employees are physically working from. Work has changed dramatically in the last year and so has the performance review. Many nonprofits are still overseeing a remote workforce which means they’ve had to conduct performance reviews remotely as well—one of the more challenging meetings to conduct virtually.
Employees already tend to be nervous when the time comes for evaluation but with a thoughtful approach and the right structure, leaders can make the processes productive (and comfortable). While you may be able to comment on goal achievements, with limited in-person interactions properly evaluating your staff can be challenging and becomes even tougher when you’re delivering feedback while dealing with technical issues, screaming kids, or barking dogs. You want to make sure employees feel at ease by reminding them that it is a two-way conversation simply meant to help recognize accomplishments, identify strengths and weaknesses and to establish future goals. It’s also important to remember that employees have been under extreme and unusual circumstances since the global pandemic presented itself nearly a year ago. By taking into consideration the elements over which your employees had no control and making scoring adjustments, leaders can show both fairness and appreciation for their efforts and dedication to the organization.
Consider these tips when conducting a remote performance review to help make the process more efficient and effective—even in a virtual environment:
- Provide feedback beforehand – this allows the employee time to review and process your remarks so they can ask more thoughtful questions during your call.
- Connect via video Chat – for these kinds of conversations video is the only way to go. It not only provides the opportunity to personally engage but can also provide further insight into an employee’s reactions.
- Be kind and show compassion – bear in mind the vastly different and varying circumstances your employees are operating under and provide a little more compassion, flexibility, and leniency.
- Allow for small talk – many people are still craving social interaction so before diving into the performance review itself start off by talking about anything that’s unrelated to work.
- Set the tone – performance reviews can be uncomfortable enough when done in-person and maybe even more so virtually. Be open and pay close attention to body language—both yours and theirs.
- Use screen sharing –
- Gather a variety of data - working remote with decreased visibility into everything that might be going on, direct input through self-evaluation and peer feedback can help round out review conversations.
- Don’t forget to mention COVID – recognizing your employees’ ability to adapt and overcome obstacles caused by the pandemic are worth mention—they not only had to establish home offices, navigate virtual meetings, and adjust their processes but they also had to overcome the isolation of remote work while finding work-life balance.
- Listen carefully and with intent – make sure you pause to give them time to respond or ask questions without interjection and pay special attention to the words they chose to use
- Speak compassionately – when discussing areas for improvement keep in mind that everyone is human and susceptible to hurt egos. Offer helpful advice, thoughtful recommendations, and constructive criticism.
- Solicit feedback – a great performance review should be a two-way conversation. If you’re dealing with an employee who is uncomfortable being honest ask open-ended questions that encourage a response.
- Provide details for any high or low ratings – it’s important for employees to know what they are doing well and the areas where they can improve, and specifics are critical to their success.
- Establish attainable goals – employees still need to know they can grow within an organization, even during a pandemic. Create specific goals for career development and provide specific details on how to achieve them.
- End on an upbeat note – ending on a positive note is imperative to boosting employee self-esteem, performance, and engagement. Make sure you take the opportunity to recognize and show appreciation for your employees.
- Follow up in writing – as soon as possible after the conclusion of your meeting, forward documentation of the call to your employee. A lot can get lost in translation so ensure everyone is on the same page especially when sensitive topics like low scores or salary were involved.
Going forward it can be helpful to implement stronger tracking systems such as utilizing online project management tools like Monday.com or Microsoft Teams and scheduling regular check-in meetings to discuss workload, accomplishments, and frustrations.
Performance reviews give employees the feedback they need to improve job performance while also enabling them to work with their managers on career development plans. When done properly, virtual reviews can be highly beneficial to both the employee and the organization—increasing productivity and engagement.