Good managers understand the importance of employee feedback. When it comes to inspiring people to be their best at work, nothing else comes close—not even higher pay or a promotion.

Before COVID-19 you engaged informally as well as during meetings with your team which made it easier to provide real-time feedback.  However, those interactions don’t occur organically during a pandemic with a new remote or staggered workforce.  So, it’s important to “make” them happen. 

That’s why the formal performance review is as important as ever.  Performance evaluations signal to your employees that the company is handling these challenging times and that you care about their future. 

Performance reviews are a great time to let your employees know how much you recognize and appreciate their hard work.  If your company experienced recent layoffs, then those employees still on the job are probably working even harder and that needs to be recognized in a formal way. 

The New Normal Calls for a New Process

Your employees aren’t doing their job the way they used to do it before the pandemic.  Today’s performance evaluations need to focus more on ways to help improve their future performance rather than how they accomplished the same tasks in the past.

Re-think the goal of your performance review process.  It’s customary for annual or quarterly performance reviews to focus on setting goals and other quantitative benchmarks.  That’s most likely not be possible right now.  Instead of sales and production quotas, look for more qualitative measures.

Here are three ways to modify your performance metrics to turn performance reviews into motivational tools during these uncertain times. 

#1 – How well is he/she managing the pivot to remote work?  

Gather information about how the employee engages with their peers and supervisors.  How well do they utilize the new channels of communications with team members to keep projects on track? Are they maintaining a positive attitude while coping with the added stress of new procedures and technology? 

#2 – What contributions is he/she making to support their co-workers? 

Ask other team members for perspectives on the employee’s performance. What new systems or best practices is the employee creating to meet the team’s unexpected challenges? How do they support the ideas or concerns of others on the team? Are they readily available to answer questions or demonstrate new procedures if needed?

#3 – What does he/she identify as their strengths under the “new normal”? 

Ask the employee to provide examples of their newly acquired skills and insights. Listen to their self-assessment and provide guidance about how they can improve their performance. Develop a plan with your employee that will elevate their abilities to meet future challenges.  

The key to performance reviews during COVID-19 is to avoid judgment and instill motivation.  Remember to make it personal. If you can’t conduct the review in person right now, make sure the meeting is done over video. 

You may need to explain that merit increases are on hold for now.  Likewise, explain that it is important for your employee to know that they are valued and appreciated. Establish regular feedback sessions going forward to show your intent is to help them continue to improve and grow with the company. 

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