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As the time for appraisals draws near, are you struggling with how to effectively adapt your evaluations to the new circumstances you and your remote/hybrid teams face? 

Worry no more. Times have changed, the way we work has changed, and your perspective on performance assessments can change too. Feel confident about your evaluations by pivoting to a more remote-friendly approach; it’s time to change the way you look at performance reviews.

Before we jump into the “how-to” of remote and hybrid employee evaluations, let’s first take a look at the “why,” including how COVID has changed the way we look at performance, how the roles of HR and management have changed, and the role digital transformation plays in remote workers management and modern employee assessments for hybrid teams.

14 Effective Ways to Conduct Remote and Hybrid Employee Assessments

How has remote and hybrid work changed the way you should be conducting your performance assessments? And what steps can you take to ensure your performance appraisals are aligned with this new way of working? Read on to find out!

1. Provide Continuous Feedback Throughout the Year

Performance reviews have traditionally been conducted annually. But, especially when it comes to managing remote and hybrid teams, managers must move towards a year-round continuous feedback model if they want to cultivate a high-performance culture. Gathering employee feedback throughout the year will help you shape your evaluation when the time comes. 

Curious how to provide continuous feedback through the year? 

  •  Implement regular one-on-one meetings

Employees with managers who hold regular one-on-one meetings are three times more engaged than employees who do not receive frequent check-ins. Regular check-ins should be a 2-way conversation for exchanging feedback. It’s good practice to check in for one-on-ones at least once a month. 

  • Set and track goals

Goals should not be set only once a year. Make sure you are discussing short and long-term goals with your employees year-round. This ensures that your teams stay focused and have the support they need. Set goals by using SMART goals (broken down into actionable steps), OKRs (focused on larger objectives and key milestones), or a 30-60-90 plan (focused on 30-day milestones).

  • Follow up on projects

Following up on projects after they are completed is just as critical as tracking them while in progress. This is where you can garner valuable retrospective insight into what went wrong and what went right and discuss how to leverage the learnings for future growth. 

  • Recognize employee achievements

One key factor in ensuring employees maintain a positive attitude towards their work is to always promptly and publicly recognize employee accomplishments. Acknowledgment of achievements inspires morale and drives motivation. Be careful not to neglect recognition in favor of waiting for yearly reviews; you will lose the momentum of the moment. 

2. Continuously Engage Remote Employees

In line with continuous feedback, managers must ensure they keep their remote and hybrid teams continuously engaged. A continuous engagement model is designed for the purpose of providing and sustaining a workplace dynamic that stimulates feelings of motivation, dedication, interest, and creativity within your workforce. 

Managers who do not see their teams face-to-face on a daily basis need to be especially attentive to engagement. Conduct regular virtual surveys to measure engagement throughout the year. This will prevent any unpleasant surprises when conducting formal performance evaluations.

How can you keep your employees continuously engaged?

  • Give continuous feedback

The continuous feedback model outlined above is essential for maintaining continuous engagement. Clearly communicate your expectations, give (and receive) feedback, and acknowledge achievements. 

  • Make incremental improvements

Focus on making small improvements and avoid frequent large overhauls to the way your team works. Sudden big changes can stress and confuse your employees and damage morale. Be sure to also communicate the reason for changes and explain new standard procedures. Don’t forget to reward improvements and growth!

  • Allow for innovation

As a manager, it’s important to tap into the creative potential of your team and encourage new ideas. Enable innovation by cultivating a fun, creative working environment that provides the opportunity for employees to explore and test their ideas.

  • Focus on continuous improvement

Strengthen work processes, operational efficiency, and company culture by having your team engage in cross-departmental collaborative projects and activities. Doing so will keep people connected and create a culture of continuous improvement

  • Value your workforce

Remember that every employee matters and brings intrinsic value to the company. A good manager is able to uncover and tap into the unique value that an individual brings to the company and help them develop it. Embrace diversity and use it to discover new ways of thinking, problem-solving, and decision making to inspire best practices. 

3. Explain the Review Process 

Since remote performance evaluations are likely new for both parties, explain to your employees beforehand how the remote assessment process will play out, so they know what to expect. This will help alleviate some of the usual stress of the process. 

What should you explain before the review?

  • The value of the evaluation 

Be sure also to reiterate why the evaluation process is important and how it will help the employee, their team, and the company grow. 

  • The format of the evaluation 

Evaluations for remote and hybrid teams will likely be done remotely, and this may be a new approach for a lot of employees. Outline the following: what communication channel will be used to deliver the review, what data and criteria the evaluation will be based on, what visuals will be presented, how the evaluation will be structured, and if the conversation will be 1-way, 2-way, or mixed. If you choose to use a 360-degree appraisal model, then it will be important to mention who the appraisers will be. 

  • What happens next

Be sure that your employees fully understand how to use the information in the review to  apply it for future growth and development. Outline how you plan to follow up on the goals discussed in the review and track their progress. 

4. Encourage Self-Assessment

Ask your remote team to assess their own performance. Doing so provides valuable insight into how employees perceive their own value and position within the company. Getting their perspective will allow you to understand your employees better and make up for any unknowns. Once you understand their day-to-day experience and career trajectory, you’ll be more equipped to coach and incentivize them effectively. 

You’ll want to ask employees questions that measure their overall performance, strengths, areas in need of improvement, their relationship with their manager, and how they feel about their current role and their plan for the future. 

Not sure what to ask? Here are a few good examples:

  • What achievement this year are you most proud of? 
  • What could I do differently to better manage you?
  • Which job responsibilities/tasks do you enjoy most? Which do you least enjoy?
  • What do you want your next position at this company to be? How would your responsibilities change?
  • What working conditions allow you to be the most productive? 
  • What will you focus on in the next quarter to help you grow and develop?
  • What can I do to help you better meet your goals?
  • How do you think your role helps the company succeed?

5. Supplement Appraisals with Visuals

When conducting an employee appraisal remotely, provide visualization to supplement your talking points. A visual presentation is easy to share using video conferencing tools and will help keep the conversation focused. 

Consider the addition of a visual presentation as a kind of “scrapbook” outlining the employee’s performance over the past year and the vision for their future development. Visuals can include written communications, highlighted achievements, and data provided in graphs, charts, and timelines. Use the visual presentation as a foundation to build upon for future reviews as well. 

6.  Turn Your Camera On

The face-to-face element of reviews helps us better understand and react to the emotions that arise through body language. Be sure to turn on your camera to create a more personal connection.

7.  Focus on Reinforcing Core Organizational Values

During COVID, it was a company’s ability to rally its employees around core organizational values that enabled many to persevere. But as the pandemic winds down, the importance of a strong organizational core should not be neglected. 

Use performance reviews as an opportunity to strengthen company culture by demonstrating to employees the role that core values play in achieving company objectives and personal career goals. Be sure to explain how personal goals tie into the company’s larger strategic objectives. 

8. Focus on the Future

Of course, discussing past performance is an essential part of an employee “review,” but it shouldn’t be the sole focus. Only one-third of the meeting should be spent discussing past performance, while the remaining time should be focused on discussing future tasks and setting goals for the coming months or year. Discuss lessons learned from past performance and how to apply them to the future. 

Focusing more on the present and the future is an essential part of a manager’s new role as a mentor and coach. Furthermore, involving your teams in their own goal setting will make them feel more accountable for them. As remote and hybrid employees work more autonomously than ever, accountability is essential. 

9. Don’t Forget Soft Skills

Soft skills have become more important than ever since the pandemic and are particularly applicable to remote work. Remote employees need to know how to effectively communicate and demonstrate autonomy, accountability, self-discipline, adaptability, and work ethic. Don’t forget to recognize these skills in your reviews and to provide coaching in areas that may be lacking.

10. Establish Procedures

As the way we work changes, so too does the way we measure performance. Be sure to explain to remote employees how they can expect their performance to be measured and what will happen if they do not meet expectations. Clearly establish how poor performance will be managed and be sure that employees are clear on procedures. This may encourage them to better manage their own performance. 

11. Gather Diverse Data

The inability to frequently interact with your employees in person means that the first-hand performance data you have for them may be lacking. Diversify the data you gather on employee performance by utilizing other sources; get feedback from clients and colleagues about communication and collaboration skills, request a self-assessment from the employee, and use employee performance monitoring tools for productivity insights. Doing so will enable you to offer a more well-rounded evaluation as well as eliminate any potential biases.

12. Recognize High Performance 

Don’t focus only on poor performance and issues that need correcting. Make sure to also praise employees for their achievements and acknowledge when they performed well. Doing so will make you a more empathetic leader, show that you’ve been paying attention, and will be good for your team’s morale. 

13. Double Down on Digitization 

As organizations invest more in developing their workforce, digital tools that help management, HR, and individuals manage performance have come in handy. For example, work performance monitoring tools are fantastic for managing remote and hybrid teams. An invaluable asset, a productivity tracker is a manager's go-to tool to track employee productivity and get real-time data insights and visualization of their team’s performance. Use employee computer monitoring data to actively manage performance throughout the year and to back up your employee evaluations. 

14. Show Employees How to Manage Their Own Performance

Individual employees can view the easy-to-understand dashboards provided by most remote workforce monitoring software, allowing them to see and manage their own performance too. Show your employees how to leverage the actionable sights provided by computer tracking software to monitor and adjust their own performance throughout the year.

Level the Playing Field Between Remote and In-Office Employees

The added stress of needing to evaluate a mix of in-office and remote employees can be alleviated by implementing pc tracking software for all employees. It is particularly useful for assessing hybrid teams, as it can help even the playing field between your in-office and remote employees. 

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