ALWAYS conduct performance reviews in person, or NOT!

LeeAnn Bailes Foster

If you have been around prior to 2020, you know the drill: find a private, comfortable, and safe place to conduct Performance Review Interviews. Never would we consider holding a Performance Review over the phone or via the internet. NEVER! How very impersonal. Show the employee he is worth your time and effort to meet face-to-face. 

Now, fast forward to 2021! As you well know, over 46% of Americans will be working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Well then, you might think, I will just surpass all Performance Review Interviews until we are back in the office, plant, classroom, etc.  Wrong again!  

Dear Readers, performance feedback to our employees is more important than ever in 2021. Each has been shoved out of the comfort zone. As our valued employees are relearning how to work in this pandemic environment, our feedback is even more integral to their success. And we need their feedback, too.    

A fabulous organization Team Foster Strategy LLC works closely with is called Relations Research LLC. Kimberly Evans, CEO, is extremely knowledgeable in providing breakthrough innovation for better outcomes and fewer risks. Danny McCall, Founder, wrote a book called Work is a We Thing. In the bookDannyexplains through a storytelling style how to ensure that the organization knows what the employee needs AND that the employee knows what the organization needs from the employee to reach or surpass goals. How will we ever figure this out if we do not conduct our Performance Review Interviews? 

What Should Managers do about COVID-19?
Be Compassionate, Encouraging, and Understanding! 
Being evaluated induces a level of stress amongst employees. Most supervisors and employees prefer to avoid these conversations. As you know, remote working has created a sense of isolation and loneliness. Social time at work is missed.  Remote Performance reviews might add to the stress.

Stay agile. 
The process you choose to follow in January may be totally different in April due to what you learn along the way. Keep in mind such problems as physical distance, technology hiccups, communication difficulties, and other factors that make remote Performance reviews more difficult for many managers. Change is GOOD! You must adapt. 

Communication Prior to the Performance Review Meeting
First, acknowledge that both the organization and its employees have had to undergo significant challenges this year. “During COVID-19 restrictions, compassionate leadership should be a priority. As a manager, you need to adapt and tie the employee with well-being,” says the November 2020 Creately Blog.

Below are items to consider as you prepare for 2021Performance Reviews:

  • Process: Explain in writing how the 2021 review will be conducted. Lay out the steps, how the employee needs to prepare, whether it will be done through a video call and on what platform, etc.
  • Participants: State who will be present during the review.
  • Date and time: Send a Meeting Request at least a week in advance to allow adequate time for preparation. 
  • Agenda: Attach the agenda and the performance review tool you will be using. 

Conducting the Remote Review
Connect via video
Video calls are the next best thing to being in the same room with an employee.  Try your best to deliver the review via a video call.  

Have a conversation guide in front of you.
Use the Performance Review Form as our outline. Be structured and focused; while you should have some flexibility, it’s important that you get through all the review in the set time without seeming rushed. 

ASK! Set aside time for the employee to discuss any questions or concerns they have.

Setting clear expectations can help you and your team stay on task throughout the review, even in a virtual setting.

Use learning tools to help the employee prepare the career ahead
Following are 4 tools you will want to integrate into your pre-Performance Review process:

Personal SWOT
This is a thought-provoking tool. Send it and the other tools to the employee prior to the review meeting to allow for time to self-examine. 

SMART goals
In preparation for the new evaluation year, use the Team Foster Strategy SMART goals tool to set goals (contact us for form). We all need targets. These goals should align with departmental and company goals.

Create a Career Aspirations Plan
Have you ever played Chutes and Ladders? Oh yeah – it’s a great game when you land on a space with a ladder on it and you get to skip ahead spaces. But there are chutes, also, which slide you back spaces. Our employees could feel like 2020 has been a big, long chute to their career. 

Help employees focus on their future by creating a Career Aspiration Plan. Assist them in determining their current state and desired state. The gap between the two is the Career Aspiration Plan. Fill the gap with Traction Items to move to desired state. 

What are Traction items?
Each SMART goal should have at least 2 – 3 traction items attached to it. At Team Foster Strategy LLC, we use the term “traction” instead of “action.” Have you ever been stuck in the snow? Your tires can experience a lot of action but get no traction. Think of tasks that once they are completed, you will make traction towards accomplishing your goal. 

Now it is time to begin scheduling, writing, and conducting the 2021 Performance Reviews. They need your guidance! Also, remember to recognize and show appreciation for the people who are working hard and are engaged. This time next year all of us will be shouting, “We won in 2021!”