Support vs. Privacy: Conversations about performance can quickly get personal these days. However, there is a fine line between empathy and privacy, Ms. Holland said. Managers can ask employees what’s stopping them from doing their best job or inquire about specific accommodations they might need. However, you should leave it up to employees to decide what personal information to reveal. Once an employee has shared a concern, the manager can brainstorm fixes like changing the group session time or reimbursing noise-canceling headphones or ergonomic office furniture.
It’s okay to check in, for example, and ask how the employee’s parents are doing or how the online school is going once they mention it, Ms. Holland said. “Managers can also share their own challenges” to provide advice and to show they can empathize with the struggles many people have faced this year.
Recognize that the target posts have moved: Did the employee achieve the previously set goals? If not, it could be because the chaos and change of the year has overtaken goals from six months ago or even last month. For remaining or added goals, evaluate what employees had to work with to achieve them and how they have adapted. Personal qualities like flexibility, creativity, initiative and teamwork could have been greater than to-do lists and should be recognized, Ms. Kline said. Even if you just keep a positive attitude and encourage and help others as the world of work changes, it means a lot to a team, she said and should be called.
The closer to the person, the better. When it comes to scheduling the review interview, video chat suggests a phone call to communicate nuances and understand responses, said Dr. Rock man. Better yet, he suggests planning a socially distant face-to-face meeting. If possible, meet in a park or an outdoor cafe, or go for a walk, he said. “A manager who is ready to meet an employee shows that they really care about helping that employee improve,” added Dr. Rockman added. “It also makes it easier to socialize and talk about difficult topics.”
Help them rise: An open discussion about the employee’s career goals is more important than ever when performing a performance review from home, said Ms. Holland. Without the usual face-to-face encounter with other groups, employees can feel like they are working towards company goals, but not towards their own. Take the time to discuss the employee’s career development opportunities and ways each person can advance on the team. The manager should leave the meeting with action items to take on the employee’s behalf and check back in with the employee regularly to report on progress.
The longer the pandemic lasts, the more difficult it becomes to keep worker engagement and productivity high. However, managers need to make sure their top performers are satisfied or they may be looking for another job. Pandemic-proof specialties like technical and sales functions are still in high demand despite the downturn, said Ms. Holland.
End upbeat: Recognize emotional contagion – a manager’s attitude and mood can affect the team. If it’s sincere and not too cheesy, end the meeting upbeat with language like “We have this” or “I have your back”. Ms. Kline thought about 2020 as a year of upheaval and said: “Then move on to what the mutual success in 2021 will look like.”