November 17, 2020 | 5 min read
How To Conduct A Virtual Performance Review


Conducting a performance review is just one of your many responsibilities as a manager. While you may go through the same motions every year to prepare, things are going to change. With most businesses continuing to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new challenge stands in the way – virtual performance reviews. Not only will you be conducting this meeting in a new remote setting, you’ll need to consider how taxing this year has been for most people. So, what are the ways you can ensure you give a great performance review no matter the circumstances? Our four tips below can help:

Set expectations for the review

Since this may be the first virtual performance review for both you and your employees, it can be uncomfortable. That’s why setting expectations can ease the employee in preparation for the review. If you can, provide documentation on how the meeting will go a few days prior to the review. This will help the employee manage expectations and make them more comfortable to discuss feedback.

Set the right tone for the review

While performance reviews tend to be pretty standard, this year’s reviews can be more challenging than others. Ensure you are setting the right tone for the review to make your employees comfortable. For example, the meeting should ideally take place over video so you and your employee can chat face-to-face. This will also help you read their body language and put their nerves at ease.  You’ll also want to be compassionate during this meeting. This year’s performance reviews shouldn’t be based on KPIs and numbers alone. You’ll need to consider your employee’s personal circumstances and the challenges the business has faced as you give your review.

Set new, realistic goals for the year

One of the most important aspects of an employee’s performance review is goal setting. If your employees want to succeed, they need to know what is expected of their performance. However, it’s important to set new goals during this time. Look at the priorities you set before the pandemic. Have goals shifted? Did your business pivot this year during the pandemic? If they have, you’ll need to re-evaluate how these goals impacted your employee’s performance. You’ll also want to set new goals based on the current state of the situation at hand. This will not only help your entire team focus on the overall goals ahead. It will also give your employees the confidence they need to succeed.

Prepare and keep the big picture in mind

The last thing you want to do is simply wing a performance review, especially during these times. Most importantly, the review should not serve to discuss your employee’s most recent work behavior. If you are conducting a yearly performance review, keep in mind all the employee’s projects, accomplishments, and feedback from the entire year. This will ensure a fair review that will be most helpful to the employee. Again, it’s important to consider the impact this year has had on people. While some have struggled during these unprecedented times, you’ll need to look at the overall picture of your employee’s performance to give them a fair review that will help them in the year to come.

Be empathetic

This year has been challenging for many people, whether they’ve been directly impacted by COVID-19 or not. It’s important to remember this while conducting your performance reviews with your team. Understanding where your employees are coming from will help you set an empathetic tone to the entire process, which will only strengthen your team’s morale. Your employees are watching how you treat them during this period. If you choose to ignore the pandemic during this time, they’ll remember. That’s why you’ll need to be more careful during this year’s performance reviews. If employees are struggling, it may not be best to reprimand them. Instead, ask them what they are struggling with during this time and figure out a way you can help them with their performance. This type of actions will be remembered fondly once the pandemic is over—helping build loyalty and team morale.

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