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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

How to Evaluate Employee Performance Virtually Amid COVID-19

Now more than ever, employees need consistency. Managers must be able to have transparent conversations with their staff and to talk about what they are excelling in, or where they may be falling short and what can be done to improve their performance. While delivering critiques in a time of high personal and professional stress is not easy; it may be necessary. 

As human resources and managers plan future virtual employee performance evaluation conversations, here are some tips to consider: 

Maintain normalcy as much as possible. Whatever your typical structure or schedule of performance reviews is, it is important to stick to it. Now more than ever, employees are craving consistency. Employees are facing a great deal of uncertainty and routine communication, especially about their performance and role, should be kept as normal as possible. While it may look different having reviews virtually, maintain the same structure, same set of questions and topics, and same the communication style as much as possible. 

Communicate expectations beforehand. While some employees’ roles may have shifted during work-from-home mandates, there should be no surprises during a performance review. If expectations or roles have been shifted, it is important to communicate these with the employee outside of the context of a performance review. 

Speak to the here and now. No leader, regardless of their tenure, is able to predict with full certainty what is to come. It is important to speak only to your knowledge and replace phrases like “moving forward, I would like...” with “for right now, I need you to...” so that employees know to expect change and flexibility. 

What employee traits are especially valuable during COVID-19? 

While conducting an employee review virtually while quarantined, stick to your typical considerations and structure. If their role has shifted while working from home, or if you’d like to consider additional metrics, consider keeping a mental or physical “score card” of these traits: 

Accountability. Have the performance review be employee-led to evaluate how well they have kept themselves on track while working from home. While no longer having the structure of an office to establish work hours, an employee’s responsibilities are left to their own discretion and time-management skills. Encouraging the employee to self-report allows them to feel further engaged and empowered in their work while working remote. 

Grit. Leadership may be busier than usual, and in a difficult economic climate, there is little room for employees to not be pulling their weight. Tenured and new employees alike should be going beyond their typical responsibilities and metrics to provide additional value to the company. 

Flexibility. While many areas of an employee’s performance may be challenged, none more so than their adaptability. Chances are work looks very different now than even one week ago and an employee’s responsibilities may change minute-by-minute. An employee’s ability to live “in the gray” rather than having a black and white job description at this time is key to their success. 

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