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Delivering a Performance Review After COVID

Performance reviews have always been stressful for everybody. This year, however, COVID has complicated everything. Working during the worst pandemic to hit America in over one hundred years often seemed impossible, but we did it. Now we’re expected to look at our employees and evaluate the work they did over the last year. How are we supposed to do that?

Performance reviews are still relevant after COVID

Should you give performance reviews based on your employee’s performance over the last year? In a word, yes. Employees need to know what they’ve done right, where they need to improve, and where their focus should be going forward. Even if the goals your team was aiming for became moving targets, you still need to talk about what happened. More importantly, you need to show that your employee’s efforts were noticed and appreciated.

That being said, 2020 was not “business as usual”, and your company’s performance reviews shouldn’t be either.

Grading on a curve

Last year was hard on everybody. Productivity, in particular, took a big hit due to all the disruptions in work. Many people didn’t hit their original goals for 2020, but they still had achievements, triumphs, and successes. Just because they weren’t the ones that were originally planned for doesn’t make them any less important or noteworthy.

It’s not fair, or constructive, to base an employee’s review on what their performance should have been in a typical year because last year wasn’t typical. Acknowledge the fact that all of the changes COVID brought to business have been a challenge for everybody and expand your evaluation criteria accordingly. Being flexible, learning how to work remotely in an effective manner, and adhering to your company’s code of conduct may not have been your team goals at the start of the year, but they soon became very important. Be sure to use these factors during your performance evaluations.

A performance evaluation is one of the most important tools a company has to recognize the achievements of its employees. Employees who rose to the challenge of working through the pandemic should be acknowledged. Team members who developed creative solutions should be recognized and rewarded, as should those who demonstrated commitment to the success of their team and their co-workers. This will strengthen employee engagement and can be a key factor in employee development.

Anticipate More Disruption in 2021

Today, we have a better idea of what to expect out of the virus, and thanks to the vaccines, we are (hopefully) moving toward a brighter future. That’s the good news. The bad news is that our difficulties aren’t over yet. There are still plenty of challenges on the road to economic recovery, and business has a long way to go before we get back to anything resembling normal.

An important part of the performance review is setting goals and plans for the next review cycle. How can you do that in a time when we don’t know what the next quarter will bring, let alone the next year?

We need to accept the fact that long-term goals aren’t going to be as useful as they were before. So, we should adjust. Working with your employees to set short-term and medium-term goals will make it easier to make adjustments to those goals as they become necessary. And if 2020 has taught us anything, it is the necessity to adjust goals. If your company isn’t already doing mid-year reviews, now would be a great time to get that started to make sure everyone is on track.

Everybody wants to get back to normal, but until we do, we have to move on. The best way your company can succeed in an uncertain environment is to embrace change. Being flexible when reviewing your employee’s performance is a big part of that.

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