For many of us, it’s that time of year again – the time where supervisors and employees sit down to go through the annual performance review process. (Ideally, however, you are meeting and sharing feedback throughout the year.) This year, instead of sitting down face-to-face, many of us will be conducting performance reviews virtually. While many of the basic principles of the review process still apply, there are some important considerations to be mindful of given the current environment and our virtual reality.

  1. Consider your evaluation criteria. Performance reviews this year are going to look a lot different than they have in prior years. We’re all working under extenuating circumstances, and in many cases measures and metrics have evolved as we all learn how to function and thrive in unchartered territory. Look at how you are evaluating employees and consider making adjustments to your templates or process based on the values and goals of the organization at this point in time.
  2. Use video technology. While being in-person is ideal, that’s just not an option for many of us. Schedule performance reviews to take place over Zoom, Teams or another video platform so you can see the other person face-to-face.
  3. Prepare and set expectations. Make sure that your employee understands how they will be measured and how their review will be conducted in advance of the conversation. Solicit feedback from others who work with the person to ensure you are presenting a well-rounded point of view. Whenever possible, share documents or feedback in advance so the employee has time to digest the information and prepare for the conversation.
  4. Focus on strengths. If we’re being honest, a whole lot of us are feeling pretty beat up this year. Many of us have been working from home, homeschooling kids, and worrying about a whole host of things we never could have imagined. Give everyone a little grace, and consider a strengths-based approach. Focusing on what the employee did well – how they managed to deliver despite the circumstances – and the opportunities that lie ahead. 
  5. Make it a two-way conversation. No one wants to be talked at – ask the employee for their thoughts and ideas, and truly listen to the response to engage in a meaningful dialogue. Ask questions to better understand your employee and what motivates them, and make sure you’ve scheduled enough time to have an open and honest conversation.
  6. Demonstrate compassion and empathy. See number 4! This has been a tough year for all of us – acknowledge it. And if an employee isn’t performing the way you’d like, take the time to ask why and understand how you or the company can help.
  7. Set realistic goals. More than a look back, performance reviews this year should really focus on the year ahead. Look at how your business has changed over the last year. Understanding that we are still in the midst of a pandemic, set reasonable goals designed to motivate – not discourage – employee progress.

Ongoing feedback is a part of continuous learning and development. Performance reviews are an important part of the process, and with proper planning and thoughtful conversation can be a powerful way to drive employee engagement.

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