Knowledge Center / Blog
Performance Reviews During the COVID Pandemic
During the coronavirus pandemic, many employees have started working from home and have had to learn to work remotely. Employees have been asked to take on new responsibilities and adapt, including those who are still working in the office. All of us want our employees to perform at their highest level, no matter where they do their work, but how can we possibly evaluate performance during these times of upheaval, different work expectations, and new standards? If you conduct performance reviews/appraisals, recognize the “new normal” may not align with your current practice or evaluation tools.
There are many challenges in conducting performance reviews as normal. Many supervisors feel it’s difficult to evaluate performance when an employee is not physically present. Employees who are now working remotely for the first time or maybe doing new, unfamiliar work may feel their performance can’t be at a peak level because of new communication methods or a lack in-person supervision, training, or on-hand resources. Both the supervisor and employee might feel it’s unfair to hold employees to the same standards, or to appraise performance based on a job description that is suddenly obsolete.
If you decide to continue performance reviews, here are a few things to keep in mind. It is important to remember that performance reviews may need a different approach. If you plan on using your current performance management processes and tools, review them to see if they need to be revised. Are the evaluation criteria still valid? Does the tool have flexibility to reflect new duties, new operating procedures and new expectations? We also recommend a review of job descriptions to take into account how an employee’s performance may have changed because their job changed. Also recognize that many times it’s the “system,” not the person, who is failing. We as employers need to recognize that a lack of clear communication, access to resources, and taking on new responsibility without clear direction may create poor performance. If this is the case, consider whether or not it’s fair to evaluate the performance at this time with the current tools.
Instead of doing formal performance appraisals, consider scheduling frequent check-ins to have ongoing performance discussions. Focus these conversations on behaviors that will lead to success. Ask your employees what they need help with and how you can help them. And then help them.
However you choose to execute performance reviews in the new normal, it is important to remember to be flexible, be growth oriented, and be honest when identifying what the root problem may be.
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