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Performance Reviews in Covid-19 context

Alejandra Marquez | July 7 , 2020

You and your team have probably been working remotely for months now, surfing this completely new context with the Covid-19 situation. But the time of mid-year performance assessments is here nonetheless. Even if you have always been a constant excellent performer, this is a completely different scenario for everyone.

The first question in your mind might be: Do I factor in the impact of Covid-19 in the Q2 assessments? 

The truth is, not everyone can be functioning at their best and be top performers right now. And that’s OK. This is a time to focus more on empathy, resilience, and well-being than in performance as we traditionally understand it. You are not necessarily deciding who will get a raise at this time. Instead, focus on nurturing culture and values. How companies treat their employees in this pandemic context is probably going to be remembered for many years to come. Use this time to talk to your team and truly connect with them at a human level. Check-in on them frequently about how they and their families are coping with the whole situation. Especially in places where there’s still a quarantine in place, social distancing, and other measures that have a big impact on the psyche (which are yet to be discovered). The bottom line remains: help your team to cope.

Some companies, on the other hand, are suspending evaluations completely. In a scenario where even some schools are doing away with grades, you could always repurpose the assessments as self-evaluations instead and have a more narrative kind of feedback.

Also, it’s a good idea to take the time to talk with your camera turned on. It’s more humane and you will be able to see the backstage of their home offices, get a better read on what their day to day looks like, and of course, their gestures.

In terms of frequency, don’t stick to traditional semi-annual or quarterly check-ins. You may need more frequent feedback. These are times of people-focused organizations familiar with agility. Getting quick and more often feedback (like 30’ every 30 days) can be a game-changer for teams working remotely. It serves the double purpose of checking the pulse on the team and giving people rapid feedback on their work so everyone knows where they stand all the time.

In short, if we are to make the best of this situation and take some lessons learned from the pandemic, one would be to take a step back from the day to day hustle and refocus on people, emotions, and their expectations. Sooner or later, the hectic office life will return but we won’t be the same.