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A Guide to Conducting Remote Performance Reviews in 2021

One Minute Takeaway

  • Performance reviews shouldn’t stop just because workers are remote
  • Instead, remote reviews can play an important role in employee engagement
  • Like all talent development, regular feedback is required—annual reviews aren’t enough

Should you continue to hold performance reviews while your team is working remotely? In 2020, companies had to abandon their offices at short notice and it made sense to press pause on normal routines. But as we all adjust to new remote work models, talent development can no longer be ignored.

In a crisis, “performance” takes a back seat, but it can’t stay that way going forward—when done properly and for the right reasons, reviews give employees the kind of feedback and recognition they crave. Everyone on your team deserves feedback, whether they are remote temporarily or working out of the office for the long-term.

How the switch to remote work has affected productivity and performance management 

For companies who are experiencing remote work for the first time, it can be unsettling to have less transparency into what employees are doing. Leaders feel in the dark about how much progress has been made on projects, and worry about accountability.

The solution isn’t micromanagement—instead, it’s increased transparency and more precise communication. It’s also important to acknowledge that when working practices change, it might not make sense to use the same measurements and objectives as before.

Why reviews are as important as ever 

In times of uncertainty, we need to communicate more, not less. Don’t allow remote workers to operate within an information vacuum—you might need to communicate (or even over-communicate) far more than you did previously. Remember, the goal of a performance review is to improve performance by influencing behavior. Operating in unusual circumstances doesn’t mean there aren’t valuable lessons and opportunities worth reflecting on.

The reality is, the right course of action will differ by individual. High performers won’t want to waste an opportunity to grow and may seek acknowledgment that being remote won’t knock their career trajectory off course. Others will need managers’ support as they align their own performance with company goals. For many, remote work doesn’t come naturally—and their efforts to adjust should be recognized.

Should you be having compensation conversations with your team? 

Whether you continue with compensation discussions depends on the kind of position your business is in. Unless you’re really in a crisis and unable to action any salary improvements, then the answer is yes. However, old criteria might not apply—it’s more important than ever to focus on rewarding behaviors, not strictly “performance” or outcomes alone.  

How to conduct remote performance reviews

Here are a few helpful tips for conducting remote performance reviews:

  1. State the purpose of the review
    Make sure employees know that this is part of an on-going conversation, even when you’ve had to change-up your performance review process. If you’re doing talent development right, your team will already be accustomed to regular feedback conversations.
  2. Reflect on lessons learned and how to apply them
    The best employee feedback is future-focused, and that’s never been more true than now. Even if moving to remote work was tough at first, the important question is how an employee is set up for future success. Acknowledge the challenges that have gone before, and work together on how the lessons learned can provide opportunities for growth.
  3. Turn your cameras on
    So much of our communication is non-verbal, and this is lost when cameras are off. You’ll never recreate the rich non-verbal communication of in-person conversation, but making an effort to really be present in video calls makes a big different.

A transparent performance review process, even in these challenging times, helps companies perform and align around their goals. It’s instrumental in shaping behaviors, encouraging ownership, self-direction, peer recognition and openness.  

More tips and info about conducting effective performance reviews

Follow best practices to make your performance reviews as effective as possible. Here’s a quick checklist of what a strong performance expectation should include: 

  • Alignment with core values and company goals 
  • Culturally aligned behaviors that drive optimal organizational outcomes 
  • Demonstrations of optimal outcomes 
  • Metrics that show expectations have been met 
  • Mutual agreement between employee, manager and company

Ensure that employee goals are well defined, especially in the context of your company or team’s performance review process. Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), a popular goal-setting methodology, can help you achieve this.

Performance management should be an ongoing process that allows for discussion, improvement and adjustments based on employee performance. To make the review process easier, consider conducting check-ins and tracking that you can reference often. Paycor Talent Development can help turn your performance management process into an ongoing conversation and create a culture of continuous development—including for remote employees. 

How Paycor Helps

Paycor builds HR solutions for leaders. With Paycor, you can modernize every aspect of people management, from the way you recruit, onboard and develop your team, to the way you pay and retain them. See how Paycor can help the leaders of your organization solve the problems of today and tomorrow.