performance review conversations

Performance review conversations amidst COVID-19

Where in the past you’d be sitting down face to face with your team members, keeping the review aligned to BAU, there’s no way to have this year’s performance review conversations without speaking to the changes we’ve all experienced throughout 2020.

Let’s take this opportunity to review the performance review process, and explore how you can approach performance conversations differently over the coming weeks.


Preparing for performance review conversations

Regardless of whether your place of work is completely reshaping it’s review process or wheeling out the previous templates, you now have an opportunity to take what’s normally an underperforming process and give it a makeover. Here are some pointers to get you started.


#1: Acknowledge the elephant(s) in the room

There’s been a whole lot of change in the world and in your workplace over the past few months. The global pandemic has touched the lives of everybody in different ways and it’s worthwhile taking some time in your performance review conversation to acknowledge the situation.

It’s useful in this context to discuss the ways in which the individual has stepped up, shown initiative or otherwise embraced what’s happened and adapted to the times. Positive reinforcement is powerful stuff, especially if there’s been some great behaviours displayed that you’d like to see more of over the coming months.


#2: Get clear on your expectations for individual performance

 Let’s come back to our foundations of performance reviews – they should be more aligned to performance preview than review. That’s not just word play.

You can’t change the past, but you can craft the future. That’s where your effort should go, especially in a rapidly changing world. Consider in your upcoming performance conversations which areas you’d like the individuals in your organisation to focus on. 

Are there particular behaviours you’d like to see more of? When you come into a performance review conversation with clarity on ideal outcomes, you’ll be able to provide your people with actionable steps that will make the entire process much more effective.


#3: Use visuals when communicating virtually 

That process you complain about, those forms that need to be filled in; they’re not the problem, they’re the solution…if used effectively.  

Your performance conversations need to be directed to a non-personal space. This allows you to separate the person from the behaviour much more effectively than just talking.


#4: Treat them for what they are; the start of an exciting conversation

Too many managers approach performance conversations with dread, fear or contempt.

If you turn up with this energy, then what do you expect the results will be?

Instead, imagine what the result could be if you approached these conversations as a lightning rod, a catalyst or a fire starter to the best performance this person has ever achieved? 


#5: Consider what you could change or adapt

Can you be more creative around the outputs of work? Can you be clearer around expectations? Can you establish some simple non-negotiables that are reviewed regularly to shorten your feedback cycles? 

With the massive disruption we’ve faced, now’s the time to look at everything with fresh eyes rather than hang onto something that never really worked, and that includes your performance review framework.