Appraisals are a meeting between an employer and employee to discuss, evaluate and document job performance. They offer the chance to talk one-on-one, formally, with an employee to review what is going well, what can be improved and reset expectations going forward.
While based on performance and not personal opinion, an appraisal should promote open and honest discussion. And it should always focus on the positive aspects like – personal development and growth.
COVID-19 has no doubt impacted staff development and performance management, including employee appraisals. Here are some techniques for mitigating these challenges, advising on how you can best deliver remote appraisals that support your colleagues during an unsettling and challenging time.
Increase the frequency of appraisals
Remote workers often report feeling ‘disconnected’ from the business and may be left wondering if their work is valued and recognised.
More frequent appraisals, focused on employee development, can help keep your remote colleagues engaged and working effectively. If your appraisals are positive discussions focused on personal growth, then your colleagues will relish — and not resent — the increased frequency.
Imposter syndrome and the need to appear busy
Imposter syndrome and burnout are things to consider during appraisals. Are your colleagues in danger of burn-out? Are they leading healthy, balanced lives?
While the stereotype of working from home involves lounging in front of the TV in pyjamas, the reality is usually very different. In fact, many home workers achieve more (and put in more hours) because of a fear of being labelled as lazy, and because working from home blurs the distinction between both sides of our lives, it’s not unusual for colleagues to spend more time responding to messages, polishing pitches or mulling over thorny problems beyond their contracted hours.
Output > appearances
How do you track, measure, and evaluate your colleagues’ output? This might require discussions with other team members to explore their effectiveness, or checking key platforms to calculate their contribution.
The most important thing you need from colleagues is their work — the things they achieve and deliver to the company. During appraisals, try to focus on objective achievements — the things your colleagues deliver — and pay less attention to appearances.
When you can’t see your colleagues, you must be able to trust them. You need to trust that your colleagues can make wise choices about how they complete their work.
At the same time, it’s important to evaluate your team’s performance and address any issues that arise, so the appraisal process should consider the joint needs of your business and your employees. By defining clear metrics for each colleague, you can confidently give them the freedom to manage their work and their life effectively.
Some of the subtle signals that we use to evaluate colleagues are unavailable when we work remotely, but this does not mean that we can’t conduct effective appraisals. In fact, remote working may help companies to achieve fairer appraisals that are based purely on outputs and outcomes, and less influenced by outward signals or unconscious bias.
As well as the four remote considerations mentioned above, as standard it is also important to do the following before the meeting to ensure everything runs smoothly: give the employee plenty of notice; ask the employee to fill out a self-assessment form before meeting; take notes; revisit the employee’s job description; find a comfortable environment; put goals in place for the coming year; block out enough time; and have a clear structure.