Managing Performance Reviews for Remote Employees

Return to work guidelines

With the return to work guidelines continuing to evolve, managers and leaders have had to adapt and rethink many traditional strategies. Among those that have become more complex are performance reviews. More employers now have a workforce distributed across their service area and beyond. And this general fact has made managing employees more difficult, even though return to work guidelines are now being developed and implemented.

Under normal circumstances, employer performance reviews are stressful for managers and employees. These leaders now have to appraise work conducted from afar with remote work. Fortunately, there are some tips for managing remote performance reviews more effectively.

Tips to Manage Remote Performance Reviews

  • Evaluate the purpose of employee performance reviews. In-person performance reviews commonly address issues with work quality and habits. However, approaching a remote review with the same lens is often difficult since you may not witness work habits. You still have work quality to evaluate, but it may be more meaningful if you approach this work in light of how it helps the organization meet its immediate and long-term goals. This approach helps the employee understand how vital their role is, and it appraises work in a way that demonstrates value to the organization.
  • Reconsider goals.Performance was evaluated by goals identified in a predominately in-person environment in the past. However, these goals were set before the pandemic, and they may not be an accurate indication of what should be assessed. For instance, if your company was closed for part of the year or suffered-average sales, your employees should not be evaluated on those goals. Rather, you may want to focus on how the employee has adapted, grown, and learned from the changing circumstances. It may even be helpful to review their remote processes and help the employee identify ways to become more effective if they are struggling with this changing aspect of their work.
  • Rate on a sliding scale. Rating on a sliding scale is always a good idea, rather than simply stating an employee has met or not met a goal. Sliding scales identify both what is working well and what could be improved. It shows the employee that you are providing thought into feedback and trying to understand areas that can be improved.
  • Cast a wider net when conducting a review. It is so easy to talk with other employees about concerns or issues in the office. However, this may be more difficult with remote employees. Unless you carve out time to review any issues or allow for ongoing dialogue, there could be many issues to which a manager is oblivious. When appeasing another’s performance, it is good to check in with other employees to get feedback on how well they communicate and collaborate. This process will improve your feedback as it incorporates additional perspectives.
  • Meet in person. Meeting in person may still be difficult depending on your location and any applicable health advisories. However, if you can conduct an in-person performance review, it may be a good idea. You will get better body language feedback, and it can allow for a more in-depth and personal conversation.
  • Be understanding. The reality is that almost all employees have adapted tremendously in the past several years. And this alone is a huge accomplishment. Unfortunately, many of your employees likely faced additional challenges, such as trying to home school children or caring for sick family members. Despite these huge challenges, most employees still show up and put their best foot forward daily. While you can’t ignore negligent or incompetent work, it is important to be understanding and flexible with employees when you can. Many of your best employees may be looking for other opportunities without this.
  • Don’t forget to praise good behavior. While performance reviews provide an opportunity to identify areas where performance can be enhanced, they are also an opportunity to recognize great performance. When you have employees thriving remotely with great communication and collaboration, the performance review is a great place to document this behavior and ensure it is rewarded.

There is no denying that employee performance reviews are a vital task for any manager. However, they will likely look very different in a remote setting. Additionally, managers may want to rethink how frequently they conduct performance evaluations. In the past, these reviews may have only occurred once a year. But in a remote setting, it might be better to check in with your employees more frequently, such as quarterly. Contact CA HR Services today for additional information about return-to-work guidelines and conducting employee performance reviews.