Performance reviews are essential to every company’s success. They’re an opportunity to reward your top performers, help struggling employees improve and grow.
At the same time, conducting performance reviews can be stressful and difficult for many managers. We need to keep our employees comfortable, motivate them to do better, and often have some challenging conversations.
The performance review process is even more tricky when we have full-time remote employees. We need to properly measure their performance and communicate it to them in a helpful way, all through virtual methods.
That leaves many managers wondering how to do remote performance reviews successfully… here are some strategies we can think about.
Why Remote Performance Reviews Are So Challenging?
First, it’s harder to connect and build trust when we’re not meeting face-to-face. It’s crucial to help our employees feel at ease within the first few moments and establish the tone for the rest of the meeting. This can be difficult when we’re only speaking virtually, especially if the employee is already nervous.
We rely on nonverbal cues like tone, body language, and facial expression every time we have a conversation. However, if we conduct digital performance reviews, it’s extremely challenging to observe the nonverbal cues of the appraise and engage effectively in the performance dialogue.
This may lead to miscommunication or inadequate appreciation of the feedback thereby often leading to frustration of employees. This is a reason why we need to prepare ourselves in a much more detailed and comprehensive manner so as to ensure objective, transparent and clear communication.
Finally, an appraiser may not always be aware of the various nuances and environmental realities that have impacted an employee’s performance during the year, and hence the limitations of a remote performance review conversation (as expressed above) further extenuate the problem of misunderstanding between the appraise and the appraiser.
What Makes a Good Performance Review (and a Bad One)?
We’ve most likely been on both sides of a performance assessment. Take a moment to think about it: which meetings left us feeling motivated, and which were just frustrating?
A strong performance review process won’t just help your remote team. It will play a key role in the success of our business as we build trust, loyalty, and more effective work habits.
On the other hand, a weak performance review will leave employees feeling uninspired, angry, or confused.
To make a performance dialogue effective and satisfying it must be characterised by data-based objectivity, transparency, intent (on the part of the appraiser) to scale up the performance level of the appraise and an open-minded approach of the appraise to accept feedback.
Bad Performance Reviews
What does a poor performance appraisal for remote employees look like? We might be missing out on opportunities for growth and success if we:
- Monologue – Performance reviews should be a productive discussion about improvement, not a recitation of all the things they could have done better.
- Overtly negative – Always be empathetic and show compassion in our performance reviews. If an employee isn’t doing well, ask why they’re struggling and how you could help. This is especially crucial for employees that are new to remote work.
- Subjective feedback – Our perceptions of them are important, but be sure that you use plenty of objective data that illustrates where they could be performing better.
- Constructive criticism – Our employees want to do better, but they need our insight. Giving feedback like “you’re fine, just keep doing what you’re doing” can actually confuse an appraise. Criticism with an intent to improve performance should always be backed by concrete data, positive strokes, and examples to emulate.
- Biasness – Make sure that we use the same standards of evaluation for every employee. Prepare reviews in advance with adequate data support, avoid biases based on length of employment, demographics, or remote vs. in-person employees.
- Feedback – Don’t save all feedback for one annual review. Check-in frequently with employees and give suggestions over time so that feedback in performance reviews doesn’t come as a surprise.
Good Performance Reviews
Empower staff to do more. Make the most out of every performance review with these best practices:
- Let employees share- Invite them to ask questions or share their own viewpoints on the work that you’re discussing. Remember that you might not have the full picture, so give them a chance to illustrate that they’re capable.
- Mention positives and negatives- Don’t spend the entire meeting focused on what an employee did wrong: it’s demotivating and just plain upsetting. Be sure to dedicate some time to the things they’re doing exceptionally well which reinforces positive behaviour. At the same time provide them with possible solutions to overcome their shortcomings.
- Use objective feedback- Employees will appreciate the chance to be measured against dedicated expectations and goals. Goal setting plays a very critical role in this process. Quantifiable and measurable goals must be set at the beginning of the year and all performance discussions must centre around achievement of these mutually accepted and agreed goals. This minimises to a large extent the subjectivity of a performance dialogue.
- Give meaningful, specific feedback. Even the most talented engineer has room for improvement. The more specific you are with your advice and feedback, the more helpful it will be to your employees and your business.
- Encourage growth and set goals. Remote employees have career goals and aspirations. How can we help them get there? Spend a portion of every performance review talking about the future.
- Extend and Commit support to the career growth and development of the employee.