5 Tips for Conducting Performance Reviews Remotely

5 Tips for Conducting Performance Reviews Remotely

One of the more challenging aspects of being a manager is conducting performance reviews. And when you’re using a remote format to evaluate the employees who report to you, the situation can be even trickier and more delicate. Being in a different location than the person you’re reviewing can bring up issues that are unique to virtual performance reviews, and thus, deserve specific strategies designed to maximize the review’s effectiveness in a remote environment. 

For guidance, Remote.co tapped Tonya Tiggett, Founder of the leadership development and consulting company Tiggett & Co., for her pointers. Tiggett’s team of four is remote, and her company specializes in workshops that provide tools and strategies to large companies, specifically to prepare their female employees with effective and engaging performance discussions for greater opportunity, visibility, increased pay, and promotions. About 40% of Tiggett’s participants are managers, and almost all of them have a remote team.

Tiggett shared the following tips for managers to orchestrate an engaging virtual performance discussion.

Give a Heads Up

The first step that Tiggett recommended is to clearly communicate to employees what the performance discussion and process will look like well in advance of your virtual meeting.

She explained that this is particularly important since some of your direct reports may be new in their career, or this may be the first time they’ve had this type of discussion with you.

“Even your most seasoned people can benefit from you clearly setting expectations of what the review process will be,” Tiggett said. “By preparing your employees for timelines, the information they need to provide to you prior to the review, knowing who will be present during the review, next steps once the review is over (timelines for pay increases, promotions, or performance improvement plans), it will ensure a much smoother process for everyone and sets the tone for a well-thought-out experience that is organized and clear.”

Ensure Privacy

Another precursor to diving into the meat of the remote meeting is to create the equivalent of a private conference room from your two locations. Tiggett advised that managers set employees’ minds at ease about who is in the room with them—if anyone—while encouraging them to be in a room or space without distractions and no background noise.

“Ask them to be in a space where no one else is present to avoid the risk that another employee can overhear sensitive information being discussed,” Tiggett added. “This includes family members who can create a distraction.”

Finally, she said that while you cannot control who can overhear a discussion on the other person’s end, you can give the employee a gentle reminder that the information you will review is confidential.

Be on Camera

Once the videoconference begins to mark the start of the virtual performance review, be sure to request that all participants have their cameras on. While turning on your video camera may seem like a no-brainer for a discussion as important as a performance review, Tiggett has been surprised at the number of people—including managers—who would prefer to hide behind a blank screen.

“This is the most important discussion for your direct report in their year, apart from them landing their job, and is a way to create connectivity for both of you,” Tiggett said. “By being visible, it helps both of you read body language that will be important in the interpretation of the information being exchanged and expressed.”

The founder noted that being able to see and understand the subtle signals and cues in body language, such as facial expressions, hand gestures, and posture, is a key part of emotional intelligence and also shows your interest in the other person. “It is a professional courtesy in this specific work context,” Tiggett said.

Screen Share

Not only should you be visible to the employees you’re reviewing during a virtual evaluation, but the data you’re discussing should be too.

“For any reports, graphs, charts, or systems where performance information is archived and you will reference it, ensure that your employee can see on the screen what you are referring to,” Tiggett said. “That will help eliminate confusion and ensure they can follow along as closely as possible, even if they are far away.”

Ask for More Than Data—Ask for the F Word 

As you share details about the employee’s performance, be sure to avoid making the whole meeting data-driven.

“Everyone must manage to numbers, and yet, if you only focus on this, you risk missing important and key details that serve as business intelligence in the form of talent engagement and talent retention for you as a manager,” explained Tiggett.

She emphasized that the “F word”—feelings—has a place in a performance review. With this in mind, she suggested that managers ask their employees how they got the numbers to look the way they do, what roadblocks and obstacles they faced along the way (which shows their problem-solving ability), and how they feel about what they are presenting during the performance review.

“Someone expressing how they feel about an outcome will uncover additional details on their abilities that can help you to uncover their hidden talents,” Tiggett said. “These questions will effectively engage them when approached with sincere curiosity and will help you to get to know your employees better to foster a relationship and, ideally, trust.”

Optimize Your Remote Performance Reviews

There are unique considerations to make when conducting a virtual performance review for a remote employee. By following the strategies above, you’ll ensure engaging, productive annual reviews for your remote team members.

For more best practices on remote team management, explore how other remote managers adjust their management techniques to succeed in a remote work environment!

Learn More

By Robin Madell | Categories: Remote Management

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