Performance Reviews During The Pandemic

I wrote recently about how and why to conduct regular performance evaluations of your employees. Unfortunately, COVID-19 and work-at-home orders have made this exercise even more challenging. According to a Gallup survey, 62 percent of employed Americans say they’ve “worked from home during the crisis“, a number that has doubled since mid-March.” That means all of those quick hallway conversations that helped people get their jobs done disappeared. 

Regarding evaluations, leaders of organizations should consider two options. Formal assessments could be postponed until things stabilize or until performance goals can be recalibrated. The other option is to move forward with scheduled reviews with some modifications. 

In the early days of COVID 19, many human resource managers advised that evaluations be postponed. They assumed that business would get back to normal in six months. That didn’t happen. If organizations continue to delay evaluations, it is a sure sign that the exercise is unnecessary. 

Even in the best of circumstances, managers and employees may not like doing regular reviews, and unless you update your process during these difficult times, their reputation will not improve. And you will miss an opportunity to show leadership while providing necessary feedback to your colleagues. 

According to a recent survey, Only 14% of workers strongly agree that their performance reviews inspire them to improve. And that is during normal times. Moving forward now with a review will require you to take a different approach:

The goals that you set for staff members six months or one year ago may have evaporated as the coronavirus arrived. You can’t hold your staff accountable for things that they are no longer able to accomplish. 

As you review the work of your employees, be sympathetic that your workers have been distracted by children at home or sick family members. 

I always believe that asking staff members for self-evaluations is an integral part of any review. During COVID, it may be even more critical as managers may not also be aware of special circumstances that have impacted their performance. 

Leaders should use this as an opportunity to coach staff members in a positive way. Workers need to see the future through their boss’ eyes as well as see their fate through the vision of the organization. 

While it is tempting to do away with evaluations now or into the future, doing so does not show leadership or interest in seeing your staff succeed. 

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