10 Things HR Leaders Can Do To Enable Successful Post-COVID Performance Management
Be it the shift to remote working or the changing business goals; the on-going pandemic has completely changed how organizations are operating. In times where uncertainty and economic downturn prevail, continuing with older performance management processes that are not relevant in the current context can lead to increased employee anxiety or burnout, decreased motivation levels, and even disengagement. It is, therefore, important for companies and HR teams to reevaluate their on-going performance management software.
We’re all facing unchartered territory, so bringing together your employees and uniting them around a common business goal, can inspire them and keep them motivated during these trying times. Furthermore, having a performance review process will give your employees the assurance that your business is healthy, and the organization cares about their future.
So what can HR leaders do to make their performance management process more relevant to the current times? Here are ten things we’ve put down that can help HR leaders and managers conduct performance reviews effectively:
Reflect on the purpose:
As a starting point, try and gain clarity on why you are going ahead with the performance reviews in the first place? Whether it’s to encourage high-performing employees or to create a healthy organizational culture simply, it helps to have clarity on what it is you aim to achieve through this process.
Acknowledge the change in evaluation parameters:
A performance review is the evaluation of an employee’s performance against specific goals, so think about what you are evaluating given the goals that were set prior to the COVID-19 outbreak might not be applicable anymore. Adjust the agenda of these conversations and reviews to new realities.
Opt for 360-degree feedback:
A 360-degree approach towards performance becomes critical to foster a regular, healthy dialogue between managers, reporters, and teams. Not only would this ensure that the quality of conversations between employees and respective stakeholders skyrockets, but it will also enhance employee engagement and create a renewed approach towards the coaching and development aspect of the employee.
Be Compassionate and Empathetic:
Acknowledge the different and possibly high-pressure circumstances your employees are operating under during these trying times. Factor in scenarios such as the difficulties they are facing outside of work – be it a family member who might have been affected by COVID, or even the fact that they had to work remotely even when 100% of their tasks could not be completed remotely. Be compassionate when acknowledging any shortcomings or discussing areas of improvement.
Consider suspending numerical ratings:
Employees might not be able to give their 100% during this time. And so a more suitable approach to a performance review would be opting for a more narrative assessment of performance rather than a numerical rating. Talk about what they have done well, and share actionable and helpful information on what they can do better.
Understand biases and work to avoid them:
In a scenario where your employees are working remotely, there is a possibility that older biases are amplified, or newer biases have set in, whether they are positive or negative. Performance review processes that were created for in-office work need to be re-evaluated for these post-COVID times.
- Recency Bias: It is human to remember things that have happened recently more clearly, rather than the entire year or quarter. Ensure you are documenting employee wins (or loses) through the year, so as to avoid any recency bias.
- Proximity Bias: Ensure you are not placing a higher value on employees you are working with frequently or discounting any work you have not overseen yourself, especially in remote mode. Proximity biases can be avoided by ensuring regular check-ins and frequent conversations.
- Idiosyncratic Rater Bias: It is a natural human tendency to evaluate other’s performance based on your skills levels rather than considering theirs. Ensuring 360-degree feedback can help mitigate the risk of such biases.
Enable flexible goals:
It was previously a norm for goal setting to be an annual activity for companies. However, in disruptive times such as these, when business goals are frequently changing to keep up with the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, employee goals must keep up. Employee roles are evolving, skills requirements are changing, and they are performing newer and different activities, so enabling flexible goal setting should be at the top of mind for HR leaders right now.
Help employees plan work in short-cycles:
A key to creating visibility in a fog such as the ongoing pandemic is to encourage employees to set short goals and have review conversations several times within the same quarter. Through these conversations, focus on priorities for the next month and even discuss action plans for the next week or day. This will help employees gain clarity on the most pressing tasks at hand, as well as create focus and motivation.
Leverage data of all kinds:
Data, if used correctly, can be an HR team’s most significant asset during a performance review cycle. Not only will it give you objectivity, features such as a single view talent profile on HR Management software that allow you to evaluate employee performance on a multitude of data points, such as their growth graph, progress charts, and even give you visibility into charting out the best career path for the employee. Furthermore, enabling self-evaluations, and asking questions such as – “Is the employee communicating proactively?”, “Is the employee helpful to peers and colleagues?” “Is the employee connecting with others within the company or external stakeholders such as customers?”. Ask these questions, and gather this data before you review their performance.
Do it face-to-face to set the tone right:
While zoom fatigue could be real, a performance review conversation is not something that can be done over a phone call. Video calls will not only help you make it more personal, but it will also allow you to pick up on contextual cues and ensure nothing is lost in translation.
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