Working remotely is becoming the norm. Companies that once relied on offices are now forced to have a team working from home in order to keep people safe during the global pandemic. While it was at first a necessity in order to safeguard our employees’ health, we’re now seeing the many benefits working remotely can bring. With new working environments comes new ways to engage your team. What worked in the office isn’t necessarily going to work in our individual homes. This is especially true when it comes to communication and employee feedback, including how we delivery employee performance reviews while working remotely.
At Kin, we’ve been working remotely for the better half of a decade. We’ve had our fair share of ups and downs when it comes to engaging our team genuinely without being face-to-face. Creating our employee performance review processes was no different.
Here are a few things we’ve learned over the years that have helped us develop a deeper level of understanding and trust with our employees while improving our ability to review their performance accurately, too.
Establish frequent communication
When you think of employee performance reviews, you often think of a one-time-big-deal communication. It’s this event where managers and employees are able to share their feedback about a certain period of time.
The way we work is different. Performance reviews are most definitely not the only time we share feedback. Managers are highly encouraged to have one-on-one conversations with their team members every single week to every two weeks minimum. It helps us get ahead of the curve if there’s a problem brewing, or lets us give positive feedback in the moment of great work.
Establishing this cadence of communication is so important in a remote workplace. We often talk about how we have to over-communicate since we don’t see each other in person often. No one can tell when someone feels lonely, or confused, or happy, or sad by the look on their face in a remote workplace. It comes from curiosity. And typically, the best leaders are curious. They’re curious about how their team is doing and they’re asking the right questions to find out.
Curiosity can’t just be planned to happen every quarter or annually. It has to happen naturally and often.
At the end of the day, frequency in communication between managers and their employees matters. HighGround recently did a study about performance conversations and their impact on the workplace. One of the most interesting findings was the correlation between a managers frequency of conversation with their teammates, and their feelings about an employee’s progress. Of the managers who have weekly performance-related conversations with their employees, 73% strongly feel these meetings help them better track their employees’ progress, compared to 67% who hold them monthly and 52% who only have them once or twice a year.
The more often we connect, the better we can keep track of progress. Simple enough, right?
Create solid objectives with metrics for success
You can’t hold someone to a standard that they don’t know exists. Objectives create clear pathways for employees so that they understand what is expected of them. When you have objectives that have metrics tied to them, it is much easier for the employee to successfully make progress towards goals that help the company succeed.
Objectives provide a lot of clarity for an employee, and they also help establish other areas of workplace relationships. Objectives can help motivate employees, form a basis to set budgets with and develop the structure for project plans. And of course, they help evaluate performance of an individual based on the goals they set out to achieve.
Wondering how to create great objectives? Check out the blog post we wrote on how to create effective employee objectives. It is always one of our most popular blog topics!
We all know there are two sides to every story. The same goes for employee performance.
Typically, we prepare our employee performance reviews with our thoughts and feedback on the employee’s work during a set period of time. Of course, we take the time to ask employees what they think about our feedback or where they believe that they have done well, improved upon, etc.
However, one practice that could strengthen your business is to encourage employees to do consistent self-evaluations, both in and out of review periods. These evaluations can be post-mortem documents after major projects, or perhaps just every month.
You can watch the evolution of an employee through these documents, and they’ll better inform not only your performance reviews with them, but also your weekly check-ins.
Last but not least, these self-evaluations may very well be the perfect tool to develop better relationships with your team members. Perhaps there’s something that they lack confidence in, but you see it as one of their strongest traits. Or, it may be vice versa. Interesting conversations are sure to be had.
Either way, self-evaluations allow you to have more in-depth conversations with the employee leading to higher engagement, more trust between the manager and the team member and better progress throughout the organization.
Wondering what employees should check in with themselves on? Self-evaluations typically review four different areas, but of course, you can create one specific to your company’s needs:
1. The quality and quantity of the work that they’ve accomplished
2. The progress of their objectives during the evolution period
3. Goals for performance enhancement
4. Next steps they want to take personally or professional
Just as frequent conversations with managers help to keep us aligned with each other, frequent check-ins help us stay true to ourselves at work, too.