Conducting Performance Reviews When Your Team is Remote

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Workplace dynamics have changed drastically over the last few months. From minimal personal interaction to increased reliance on communication technology, the word “office” has taken on a whole new meaning. As the year-end approaches, this leaves many companies wondering about the best way to conduct performance reviews. How can you evaluate your remote employees accurately, deliver clear feedback, and foster trust?

We have some suggestions for making sure performance reviews are effective and beneficial including using some of the traditional elements of the review process, removing factors that you can’t measure for remote workers, and adding others that this kind of work environment creates.  Managers should consider conducting remote reviews to follow these three steps.

  1. Give advanced notice about when reviews will take place. Your team needs time to prepare for a private and professional exchange while working from home, particularly now that so many people are juggling childcare and homeschooling with their jobs. Schedule at least one hour for the performance review conversation and letting employees know that reviews will be the dedicated focus of the meeting. If you don’t have easy access to tools that support video, make arrangements to speak with one another via FaceTime to ensure you aren’t sacrificing the value of a face-to-face conversation.
  2. Discuss changed priorities openly and honestly. Business priorities may have shifted during the pandemic, and employees might be worried about job security. Dedicate time in the performance review to discuss how they can remain valuable contributors moving forward. Clearly outline duties that may evolve or change in the coming months so they clearly understand where to focus their efforts and can evolve with the business appropriately.
  3.  Create a plan to support your employees from a distance. Although evidence suggests that remote workers are as, if not more, productive than those who work in a physical office, those statistics are typically based on employees who have chosen to work remotely. Employees thrust into remote working may not feel connected to company culture or to their coworkers. Their work arrangements can be isolating, and often require a level of self-direction, motivation, and discipline that isn’t intuitive for everyone.

Every employee has a different work style and varying needs when it comes to succeeding remotely. Thoughtful evaluations help employees identify opportunities for professional growth and reinforce the importance of their contributions, which can greatly impact their satisfaction and commitment. Performance reviews remain an important factor for a sustainable manager and employee relationship especially in these changing times.

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