Managing remote performance reviews

Conducting an effective performance review can be daunting at the best of times, for all parties involved. However, when these are done remotely, during difficult times (as we currently face) we have to be more prepared. It’s important for both reviewee and reviewer to understand everyone’s emotions are heightened at present, so that needs to be taken into consideration, as this needs to be taken into account when conducting a review conversation. Hopefully, these simple tips will help make the process run more smoothly.

1.0 Remote Technology

  • Ensure the reviewer has tested the technology to be used for the review meeting is tried and tested and all users have been trained on its use as required – you don’t want to have the meeting hampered by poor connectivity/outages.
  • Wear a headset where possible. The quality of the audio is usually significantly better and it’s important you can hear each other clearly.

2.0 Using Video

  • If video is available, it’s a good idea to switch it on to increase the feeling of engagement/involvement. The reviewer should check first with the reviewee if this is OK as they could be in a physical location where they feel self-conscious / uncomfortable to share video e.g. living with parents or in their bedroom!
  • If video is being used, and its strongly recommended that it is, then ensure you’re engaged with that person and can gauge their response. It’s obviously harder to do this over video, so it’s even more important to pay attention to body language and expression.

3.0 Interruptions

  • Make sure both reviewee/reviewers won’t be interrupted during the call – by children, pets etc. Especially important for the reviewer to ensure the reviewee has their full attention. It’s getting more acceptable now to endure interruptions when working from home, but best to avoid during a review discussion (a stray cat walking into shot is funny sometimes, but probably not during a review).
  • Same goes for online interruptions – turn email and all other applications that send notifications off.

4.0 Preparing for the Meeting

  • Both reviewee and reviewer need to be prepared for the meeting. The reviewer should set an agenda for the discussion, send it out a week or so in advance of the meeting so the reviewee has time to consider it and prepare. 
  • When planning the date and time for the meeting try and avoid numerous video calls on the same day – especially before the review conversation. Everyone gets video call fatigue at the moment, but you do not want to feel drained for another video call before a review discussion!
  • Leave an hour either side of your meeting time – this will give you both time to prepare beforehand and not rush into the call straight from another, and allows time afterwards to follow up on any actions such as adding or approving objectives, or adding reviewer or post-meeting comments into ObjectiveManager. This also allows for the meeting to run over – it’s important a reviewee gets the time needed for a full and frank discussion.

5.0 Managing Expectations

  • The reviewer’s preparation needs to set expectations and the intent of the meeting e.g. to review performance, focusing on key achievements, in order to identify strengths and areas for further development, and in order to set clear and appropriate goals for the next year. Depending on your process the call may be solely about the performance and not, for example career progression, – it’s important the reviewee knows what is going to be discussed beforehand so they can prepare.

6.0 Reviewee Self-Assessment

  • In most instances, the reviewee should have completed the review form and released their comments to the reviewer at least a couple of days in advance. As a reviewer, ensure you have read their self-assessment thoroughly before the meeting.

7.0 Reviewer’s Comments

  • Depending on the individual firm’s process, if the reviewer has completed an appraisal of the reviewee, this would ideally be released to them a few days prior to the meeting so they have time to consider the comments and reflect on them. If doing this, it’s a good idea to position the feedback as the provisional assessment which can be altered by the reviewer following the discussion – otherwise the conversation can seem a bit redundant as the reviewer’s mind is ‘made up’ going into it.

8.0 Using ObjectiveManager ‘On Screen’

  • Both parties can have ObjectiveManager up on screen at the same time, to ensure they can refer back to the reviewee form as necessary. The reviewee can also input the objectives they are discussing for the year ahead within the discussion, ensuring they’re accurate – alternatively, the reviewee should add the objective as soon as possible after the discussion to ensure they are as discussed – that way they can be approved quickly, whilst both reviewee and reviewer have the discussion and the outcomes fresh in their minds.

9.0 Preparing for Goal Setting

  • There are some assumptions underpinning the approach described above (i.e. that the reviewee has a clear set of goals they are being appraised against and there have been conversations throughout the year between the reviewer and the reviewee). If that’s not the case for any reason, use the conversation to establish this baseline for the following performance period.

10.0 Get More Feedback

  • Since direct contact day-to-day between reviewer and reviewee may have been substantially reduced, the reviewer will not have witnessed first-hand the reviewee’s job performance to the same degree as might normally be the case. If that is the case, make sure you get as much feedback as possible from people who have worked with the reviewee during the current remote working environment.