The shift from face-to-face meetings to the use of virtual platforms has led to a fundamental change in the communications approach for financial planning firms. And that includes conducting performance reviews. Steve Cox of IRIS FMP outlines practical tips you can use to help you conduct highly effective performance reviews with your team, regardless of limitations imposed by working virtually.
Performance reviews are essential to get the most out of your team by drawing out their potential. Performance reviews can seem overwhelming but with a global pandemic and the majority of the population having to work remotely, this daunting task is heightened by the environmental factors. So, when it comes to planning building and executing a remote performance review, we have some useful tips to improve their productivity and help these meetings benefit both the employee and business leaders.
To help business leaders better understand how to navigate the challenges of remote performance reviews, this article provides practical tips on how to prepare, how to track progress and what to do after the review process is complete to encourage employee growth & development during these challenging times.
Communicate the process
Many performance reviews have moved away from the daunting meeting that occurs once a year, with both parties storing topics of conversation to raise for this occasion leaving items often outdated and irrelevant. Changing the approach to performance reviews to regular meetings means you can discuss the employee’s performance, achievements and aims for the future and enables business’ to entwine their business vision based on the individual aims of the people that work there. This leaves your workforce validated, valued and a part of your business’ vision.
It’s important to inform and engage employees on how your performance review process works, what items are discussed and what type of outcomes that may occur as a result of the discussions. The aim here is to put your employee’s mind at ease. Performance reviews are not disciplinaries as they are often perceived to be. Instead, they are collaborations between the employee and business managers to air challenges faced and seek potential solutions. Providing visibility of the performance review process is the first step to gaining the employee’s buy-in that is required to make your performance reviews truly productive.
A key aspect to this is communicating the purpose of the performance review. As a business are you using it to evaluate pay or are you using it to understand the overall performance, challenges faced with the disruptions to the business and find a way to overcome them? Clarity is important.
Invest time in preparation
Like with most aspects of your business, preparation can make all the difference to the outcome of a performance review and whether or not it is valuable both to the employee and the needs of your business. All parties must put the work in beforehand. Ask your employees to fill out a questionnaire ahead of the meeting and submit it to their line manager. The questions asked should highlight employees’ achievements and challenges enabling a solution to be discussed and achieved as a result of the performance review.
This form should be filled out by the employee and the line manager to ensure that the employee’s achievements are fully recognised and any feedback from the wider team is shared with the employee.
Familiarise teams with platform
With many of us working from home, familiarity with the platform you use for your remote performance review is essential to put your employee at ease to discuss openly all aspects of their work and the business’ performance. Video conferencing offers an element of personability, if the employee is used to these. Advice firms and those working within them are likely to be very familiar with platforms such as Teams or Zoom but it pays to make sure that the employee feels comfortable using them. If your business doesn’t use video conferencing it can cause the employee to feel uncomfortable so take these cues and be understanding during the meeting. Move more meetings to video calls before the performance review to enable employees to familiarise themselves with this mode of communication.
Collaborate to gain solutions
During the performance review the business will evaluate the performance of the employee using the preparation questionnaire which has been pre-completed by both the employee and the line manager. But it is also key to keep the purpose of this review at the forefront of the assessment. If employees have not been as productive as they may previously have been in the office, can the business aid them in any way such as providing multiple screens for their home set-up? How has the wellbeing of your employee been impacted by the changes to working practice? Are there areas of support the employee can benefit from within your business? Remember that the remote performance review should not just centralise around the employee’s work but changes in their work environment that could impact their performance. If they are physically isolated from their team what objectives can be put in place to overcome barriers and challenges that often hold back productivity?
Be empathetic to the adjustment of a blended work-life balance. Parents working from home whilst juggling home schooling is a significant challenge and one that businesses need to work with their employees to find a solution. If performance has dipped, try to understand why so that the business can work with the employee to minimise these disruptions as much as possible. During these exceptional times, you want to show your employees that they are extremely valuable to you and your business is fully prepared to work with them to help them achieve results.
Agree outcomes and timeframes
Performance reviews should not be something carried out and forgotten about. If they are going to be productive, actions need come from them which will need to be worked on by both parties. Make sure that you agree objectives to encourage employees’ growth and development, with regular check-ins to provide updates on progress and next steps. These objectives become a roadmap to progress and grow whilst contributing to the business’ vision. This process becomes a cycle over time with objectives and achievements becoming a part of the performance review process and highlighting the personal development that the employee has achieved as well as their contributions to the business.
Remote performance reviews are certainly not a box ticking exercise. It is a way to show your employees that they are valued, an opportunity help them feel connected. It is an ideal chance to motivate them to invest in their own personal development as well as contributing to the business to help gain purpose without being overwhelmed. They are a tool to identify and overcome challenges which individuals are facing in the short term and the long term in order to make your business more productive over time.
This article was written by Steve Cox, chief evangelist at IRIS FMP, an international payroll consultancy providing expert, high quality global payroll solutions across 135 countries.