8 minute read – Posted by – March 23, 2021

Everything we learned in one year of remote work life, Part 2: Tips for better meetings

It’s been over a year since the sudden shift toward remote work. This is Part 2 on tips for better meetings.

This is part two in a two-part series. Here’ the first part: Everything we learned in one year of remote work life, Part 1: key insights

After a full year of remote work resulting from the pandemic, we have had countless conversations with our clients and partners about what has and what has not worked for them. 

As thought leaders on culture and performance management, we spent that year sharing what we were learning. We were receiving questions all year and prioritizing them to answer all of them on our YouTube channel. We made over 60 videos in the past year alone.

Here, we present a curated selection of those videos on the theme of improving virtual performance management meetings. If you want to step up your remote meetings game, watch the videos below. There are nine in all, at an average of roughly three minutes each. In fewer than 30 minutes, you take a masterclass in the learnings we have been sharing over the past year. 

Tips for conducting remote Performance Reviews 

The usual remote 1-on-1 tips still apply:

  • Turn your cameras on
  • Have an agenda with consistent topics, so each of you knows what to expect
  • Allow some small talk at the beginning to allow for relationship-building and context-switching
  • Check-in frequently on how feedback is landing and what topics need to be further unpacked

“When you’re looking at remote performance reviews, it’s still the same framework that you should follow for in-person ones,” says our GM of Professional Services Robert St. Jacques. “However, keep in mind the communication aspect and the preparation aspect because you’re losing a lot of that face-to-face communication and things that you can see in terms of body language, and so on.”

Should you continue to do performance reviews while your team is working remotely? 

“100% yes, is our answer,” says 7Geese Performance Coach Ashleigh Myerscough. 

Q1 and Q2 of 2020 may go down in history as a turning point in the way we work and respond to crises. Now, most companies have made the adjustment to remote work models, with new priorities and goals in response to how their companies were affected. It’s natural for leadership to wonder whether performance reviews still have a place. Is it fair to be evaluating our people for their work during a period of time when “performing” had to take a back seat to pragmatism and forced change? In a word, yes. 

Giving feedback on a quarterly basis and focusing on the quarter not only provides an element of certainty but also provides shorter feedback loops in order to see what’s working and what’s not. 

How to improve the quality of remote 1-on-1s

The first key is consistency, says Robert. 

Sticking to the rituals and giving team members a chance to discuss their issues can identify problems early and build trust. 

When we are facilitating our 1-on-1s remotely, we are missing some key situational and non-verbal cues that help make our 1-on-1s really effective. As a result, we may be starting to feel the 1-on-1s are less of a connection and more of a checkbox activity, which is the opposite of the goal of 1-on-1s. 

Making small talk, bringing just your 1-on-1 materials and focus to the meeting, and turning the non-verbal into verbal will help you put some of the connection back into your remote 1-on-1s.

To lighten your 1-on-1s, change up your questions, change up the way you answer them, revisiting the purpose of your 1-on-1s and add some variance to your topics. Your team members will begin to appreciate 1-on-1s as an opportunity for a connection and an uplifting experience.

It’s the same as when our gym routines can become a little boring if Mondays are always leg days, Wednesdays are always core, and Fridays are always upper-body. Asking the same questions each week can become rather monotonous. Ask your team member specifically what they need to get out of your 1-on-1s.

When it comes to remote career conversations, follow these three tips:

  1. Avoid yes/no questions
  2. Keep a record of career progress
  3. Revisit the plan

Even with remote work, by following our remote 1-on-1 tips and creating a documented process, everyone can feel invested in their career growth at the company. 

Keeping remote meetings fun

We heard from all kinds of companies about the ideas they had for keeping remote meetings fun. Meeting themes are popular, like wearing the team uniform of your favorite sports team, or when everybody gets dressed up and it’s somewhat formal.

Another way to keep things fun and have a dual purpose of people learning about their colleagues is to have quizzes. Whether it’s on the project they’re working on, or the subject matter they’re passionate about. 

What about celebrating wins remotely? Robert points out that in times of remote work, celebrating wins is just as important, if not more important than ever. Acknowledging a team member’s effort can go a long way toward helping the while team feel connected to the mission. 

He also notes that in remote work environments, the presence of a physical gift takes on a whole new meaning. Sure, your team might be distributed all over the map, but is that any reason NOT to enjoy a pizza party? 

Whether it’s remote work or post-pandemic new-new-normals when some of us start returning to the office, we will always aim to bring you the most up-to-date information about performance management. 

Have a question that we can answer for you? Want to learn more about how we do this at 7Geese using our own tool? Reach out for a tour

May Chau

May is a Content Strategist contributing to the improvement of modern performance management at 7Geese. Connect with her via may@7geese.com