Working remotely is hard. Managing remote workers is, in a lot of ways, even harder. Many of the most important management tasks are difficult to do at a distance, when things can so easily get misconstrued or lost in translation. One thing that managers are finding particularly hard, as the workforce becomes increasingly remote, is performance reviews.
Performance reviews can be difficult in the best of circumstances. Some managers find it awkward or difficult to give feedback (especially negative feedback) to their employees, no matter the place or time. But when you’re giving a performance review to a remote worker, there are a few things that are good to keep in mind.
Set up a video call.
Yes, video calls are stressful in their own right. But a face-to-face conversation makes it much easier to get your point across in a clear, concise way. There’s a lot to be said for using the right tone when you’re giving feedback, and that’s incredibly difficult to get right over email or chat. So even if a video call feels inconvenient or unnecessary, make it a priority. The review will go much more smoothly if you do.
Talk to their team.
If you don’t work with the employee directly, it can be difficult to form a clear picture of their performance. Talk to anyone that works with the employee on a daily basis in order to ascertain what their strengths and weaknesses are. This will help you give more useful and relevant feedback.
Write it up.
It’s important to document any feedback you give your employees (for HR reasons), but that’s not the only reason to write up every review. Write up your feedback before the meeting, and send them a copy before the meeting starts. This will give them a chance to look over what they’re being reviewed on, so you can avoid the emotional reaction that might come if you catch them by surprise. Keep the feedback on that document at a high level, and you can get into the details during your meeting. Writing up your feedback will also keep the meeting on track, and it will give the employee something to refer to when working to implement the feedback later. Basically, it’s a good idea all around.
Effective performance reviews offer specific feedback to the employees. You should offer feedback about their performance, of course, but that means more than just the work they output. It also means soft skills: communication, teamwork, availability, attitude, and so on. Be specific with your feedback. Address specific behaviors that demonstrate any shortcomings. Make sure the employee understands the feedback you’re giving.
Talk to them about goals and growth.
This is an important, but often overlooked, part of a performance review. Ask the employee about their professional goals. What skills do they want to learn? How do they think they’ve grown during their time with your company? What challenges are they facing with remote work? What are they excited about for the future? Listen to these answers and tie them in with the feedback you give. This will help your employees feel valued and heard.
Explain any new expectations.
What things need to change going forward? How do you expect your feedback to be implemented, and in what timeframe? Be as clear as possible, and if you can, help the employee create a plan that will help them execute this feedback. Remember: it is in both of your best interests to help the employee succeed and grow!
Performance reviews for remote workers can be difficult to do properly. Follow these tips to increase your chances of giving helpful feedback that will help your employee, your team, and your entire company, succeed.
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