personal growth is critical to company success
Feedback Culture

Performance Review at Hybrid Workplace

November 28, 2021
5 minutes
Emily Vo

Emily Vo

Growth Hacker
a guy pointing to feedback form for peers review
November 28, 2021
Feedback Culture

Performance Review at Hybrid Workplace

5 minutes
Emily Vo

Performance review is a process of assessing an employee's strengths and weaknesses at the workplace. It supports their personal growth through constructive feedback and continuous learning. When done right, performance reviews are a critical component to improving productivity and engagement across an organization. As we are near the end of the year and performance reviews are approaching, managers might find it is challenging to share meaningful feedback and career advice with employees. Especially when they don't have the opportunity to spend much time together due to the pandemic. However, the show must go on as performance reviews play a vital role in the employee's career development and overall organization's success.

A few words about performance review

Talent development is not a new term for human resources experts. Companies are under competitive pressure to upgrade their talent management efforts to build a high-performance workforce who are skilled and can respond quickly to changes. Firms are doubling down on people development by allowing their employees who are deeply motivated by the opportunities for learning and advancement in charge of their personal growth. Instead of an annual performance review, this approach requires commitment and rich feedback with frequent, informal check-ins from supervisors or managers.

One can classify the performance evaluation process into personal evaluation and professional evaluation. Personal evaluation emphasizes reviewing characteristics such as attitude towards work, behavior with stakeholders (peers, managers, customers, and suppliers), punctuality, and reliability. Professional evaluation emphasizes reviewing the work-related aspects such as skillsets, problem-solving ability, job-related knowledge, and the ability to meet deadlines.

According to Gartner, organizations with top-notch performance management practices report 14% higher employee engagement and 24% higher workforce performance than those with poor performance management practices. Nevertheless, performance reviews have become challenging for HR teams and managers because workplaces are getting hybrid after the COVID-19 pandemic. Employee are spending more time working from home and it is difficult to monitor their performance when thing are done through computer screen. Sometime, unfair perception against remote and hybrid mode can affect how employee performance is accessed. Research from Stanford once found that while remote worker were more productive and efficient, they didn't get promoted often compare to their in-office counterpart.

On the other hand, meeting the employees in person for the first time can also cause biased perception and affect the evaluation. To avoid bias while conducting performance reviews in hybrid workplaces, managers should develop a holistic approach that considers personal characteristics and professional competencies to judge employees.

Best Practices for Performance Reviews at Hybrid Workplaces

1. Develop an Evaluation criteria

An evaluation criterion is essential to conduct performance reviews in a hybrid workplace. The evaluation criteria ensure that every employee undergoes the same review experience. The performance evaluation criteria comprise several measurable elements or performance variables against which the performance of an employee is measured. The criteria may vary from one department or hierarchical position to another.  

For example, the following performance variables can be used to measure the performance of sales executives throughout the company:

  1. How many qualified leads were generated?  
  1. How many sales were closed?  
  1. How much revenue has been generated?  
  1. How many existing clients were retained?
  1. What was the sales closure rate?

Remember that the parameters used to review the performance of an in-office employee will not be suitable to assess the performance of a remote employee. In such circumstances, it is a must to redesign the evaluation criteria that reflect the working conditions of remote and hybrid workplaces. Annual reviews may not be effective for remote workplaces. It is better to ask remote workers to submit self-evaluations once every three months. Informal check-in or bi-weekly 1-on-1 also effective to keep track with the employee's progress. Besides self-evaluations, we suggest managers collect feedback from peers using standard performance evaluation criteria.

2. Evaluating success based on goals

Goal-based review is a process of evaluating to what extent an individual or a department or a program achieved its goals. Companies who are using OKR framework to manage company's and individuals' objective, these goals can become a straightforward way to measure employees performance and success. OKRs enable managers to create objectives, derive key results, and come up with activities the employees should do to achieve these objectives at the start of a performance review period.

In addition, in the setting where face-to-face coaching is missing, employee goals is a focal point to monitor progress. Mangers can measure employee performance against the goals they are working towards and use this information to deliver accurate and relevant feedback.

We’ll take a copywriter as an example to explain how OKRs can be used in the performance review.  

Goal: To increase the revenues of the organization.

Key Results: To achieve a conversion rate of 10% from the organization's online marketing efforts.

The brainstorming discussion between the manager and the copywriter at the start of the performance review period (3 months) may have determined that the latter should do the following tasks to achieve goals.  

  1. To create and publish a set of 4 long-form blog articles every month.  
  1. To write conversion-oriented landing pages for social media and paid-search advertising.  
  1. To write emails that educate customers and encourage transacting with the organization.

The performance of the copywriter can be measured against the key results to determine if she achieved the objective. If the copywriter has met all the goals, she performed strongly for the review period. If the employee fails to achieve certain goals or fall short of their OKRs, managers should take action to find out the reason and

Most organizations believe in using OKRs at the department level rather than at the individual level, but that is not effective. OKRs become less relevant in performance evaluations of employees at hybrid workplaces if they aren’t used at the individual level.

3. Avoid Bias and Take Notes

Evaluation of the personal characteristics of an employee is tricky because decisions can be influenced by biasedness and discrimination. Several factors, including region, religion, race, and gender may trigger bias and discrimination during the evaluation of the personal characteristics of an employee. McKinsey reported that 13% of managers see gender diversity programs as a hurdle to their career advancement. If these kinds of people involve in performance reviews, they discriminate against employees of opposite genders.  

Recency bias can also have a devastating impact on the performance review. If the manager does not take notes, there is a high possibility that the employee’s performance is judged on the recent performance rather than the overall performance of the entire review period. This kind of appraisal can be unfair to employees who performed their best throughout the period but lost their way in the end due to various known or unknown issues.

So, evaluation of personal characteristics is all about avoiding bias, observing consistently, and taking notes. Managers can show these notes as pieces of evidence of inappropriate behaviors or attitudes of employees. Besides, the notes would also help analyze if there is an improvement in the personal character of the employee over a period. Platform like Talbit provide meeting memo where both employee and manager can put in their evaluation and use that to reflect the progress in the next meeting.

When it comes to professional evaluation, whether you are evaluating in-office or remote employees, managers should deliver constructive feedback based on observation and interaction with employees, rather than the perception of how things should be done differently. Actions such as show up prepared for meetings, give constructive self-evaluation or meeting deadlines are insights of how employees perform even if they are carried virtually.

4. Leverage 360-Degree Feedback

Why should an employee be judged based on the opinions of just one person when he regularly interacts and collaborates with multiple people at the workplace? In hybrid locations, managers may not be able to closely observe the personal characteristics and professional competencies of an employee working at a remote location. This is where the concept of 360-degree feedback comes in.

360-degree feedback is a process of taking feedback about an employee from all the stakeholders he or she interacts with. The stakeholders may include colleagues, supervisors, senior managers, suppliers and, customers. The 360-degree feedback enables a manager to consider the feedback and ratings from all stakeholders and develop a holistic performance evaluation report of the employee. Over 85% of Fortune 500 companies use 360-degree feedback as part of their employee development process.  

Final thoughts

As hybrid work is here to stay and many companies consider shifting to fully remote - it's important to invest in building an exceptional employee experience for each individuals starting from the performance review process. Creating fair and inclusive performance review helps ensure all employees have opportunities to improve, develop and advance based on their skills and contribution.

Managers can use practices such as avoiding bias, taking notes, developing evaluation criteria, implementing 360-degree feedback, and using OKRs to increase the efficiency of performance reviews.

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