4 minute read – Last updated: May 5, 2020

Running remote performance reviews

Ask the Expert with Robert St-Jacques — Episode 8

Our GM of Professional Services Robert St. Jacques has been answering the questions we continue to receive about HR and people management changes during the health crisis.

Q: What are some tips for running remote performance reviews?

RSJ: Here, I think we need to start with the best practices for regular reviews. Let’s take them one-by-one and see what tweaks we need to make for remote performance reviews. 

The first one, if you look at any list of how to conduct fantastic performance reviews, is to include a step called preparation. Typically there’s an exchange of information, so the employee doesn’t come in and feel like they’re being ambushed, so to speak. They’re given the reviews ahead of time — the manager’s feedback and maybe some 360-degree feedback, and they’re able to absorb it and come to the conversation a little bit more educated. When you’re doing these remotely, you need to ensure that they have all the information. Maybe have a pre-performance review meeting where they can ask questions ahead of time, to clarify and be prepared for the actual performance review conversation. In terms of preparation, you need to do a little bit of extra work and do that check ahead of time before having the performance review conversation. 

The second one is a conversation. When you’re having these conversations, remember we lose a lot if we can’t see each other. If you only see a face, you lose some of the body languages. I know it sounds a small and pedantic thing, however, when you’re doing the video, I would suggest both you and your employee are away from the camera. That way you’re able to see more of the person’s reaction, expressions, and general body language, to better understand the whole communication piece. 

The third area that I suggest in terms of performing great performance reviews, especially with high performers, is high performers want more feedback in general. When we look at a global survey, 82% of employees want more feedback from their managers. The interesting piece is when I asked managers, only 14% thought that they should be giving more feedback. In this case, especially when you’re dealing with this, the employee has the information, they prepared ahead of time. 

For your high performers, they want the feedback. Being in the top one percentile is not good enough, they want to be in the top half of one percentile. Help them get there. The other piece is providing a takeaway. Prepare this in advance — when you look at the surveys, 90% plus of employees find performance reviews useless. So what is the takeaway aspect of it? Is it a learning-related takeaway? Is it a development-related takeaway? Is it a performance-related takeaway? Make sure that you prepare that ahead of time and then coach them through the next steps they should take. 

To sum up, when you’re looking at remote performance reviews, it’s still the same framework that you should follow for in-person ones. 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.


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