Virtual team members contribute to your company from remote locations, so it only makes sense to stick with that setup when conducting their annual performance reviews. The evaluation should just be another piece of your flexible work arrangement.
“A team that is accustomed to working remotely will simply use the tools that exist to allow for great communication and collaboration. It should feel very comfortable and natural,” says Carol Cochran, director of people and culture for FlexJobs. “You have the same goals, regardless of how or where you are conducting the review. You want to get and give honest and constructive feedback—what’s working, what’s not, how could it be better.”
To that end, Cochran offers these best practices for conducting annual performance reviews in a virtual environment:
- Be intentional.
- Schedule the time on both calendars and respect it. Unless there is a compelling reason, a review shouldn’t be bumped aside.
- Communicate the format and expectations well in advance. If the employee has a questionnaire or form to fill out, you want to give them plenty of time to work on it.
- Use video, if possible. People will be more comfortable with the conversation when they are able to see the non-verbal cues and evidence that they have your full attention.
Cochran also notes that the review is not the place to mention concerns about someone’s performance for the first time.
Employees need real-time feedback to deal with the day-in, day-out things that need improvement. Rather, reviews offer the opportunity for employers to gain insight about team members and get them energized for the upcoming year, she says.
Many companies, in fact, see timely feedback on an ongoing basis as so important that they question whether annual reviews are even necessary.
Accenture, Deloitte, Microsoft, Adobe, and Gap are some of the major corporations that have made annual review changes, ranging from fewer questions to complete elimination.
Millennials, a group known for their love of instant feedback and encouragement from leaders, seem to especially appreciate in-the-moment evaluation. As they continue to make their mark on the modern workplace, expect more businesses to put a premium on natural conversations over formal appraisal.