How can we manage performance during a global pandemic?

Things in workplaces around the country are almost back to ‘business as usual’ – but the new normal is not the same as it was before. Now, most office-based companies have reams of staff working remotely who hadn’t been doing so previously, many have a smaller workforce than before (because of redundancies, as well as a whole host of other external factors) and lots have new working practices and procedures that are still settling in. 

During the ‘new normal’, it’s important to note that no matter how things ease, we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic; which will undoubtedly have affected your staff’s home lives as well as their work. Having moved and adapted working practices to fit remote working and extenuating circumstances, now too is the time to do so with performance management – but how best can this work on an ongoing basis? Let me explain…

Establish whether or not performance evaluations are appropriate

There may be circumstances during this time where its simply not appropriate to conduct performance reviews. In this case, stay transparent with employees and make plans for what to do should performance scores or measures be required for records. Openness and honesty here is key, and with performance reviews often being a stressor for employees, it may be time for them to take a break. Do whatever works for your firm and team.

Keep measures clear and indisputable

If you are continuing on with performance reviews, it’s more important now than ever to ensure that the measures are clear and understood. With remote workers in particular, it is imperative that they’re able to have a fair and tangible awareness of their progress, with no nasty surprises surfacing at review time itself. If measures change, fine – most should understand why – but ensure that communication on exactly what has and is changing is crystal clear.

Don’t be afraid to adjust goals

Some businesses have done spectacularly well out of lockdown measures, and others have suffered. Indeed there will be very few businesses who haven’t been affected at all! If your company needs to update its goals to stay fair and objective, don’t fear doing so. If goals need to be lowered or raised, this can be done so in consultation with staff – and involving them in such decisions will only increase engagement.

You can still judge employees on their merits

Facebook went ahead and announced that it would give all of its staff the same performance ratings and identical bonuses as a result of changed service during the pandemic. Whilst this may seem the easy option, it can reinforce negative feeling amongst staff: encouraging the under-performing to continue as they are and making the overperforming feel as though their rewards are being lessened. Instead, staff should still be judged on their own merits, taking into account any circumstances appropriate to their performance over difficult times. 

Treat your ‘human resources’ as just that – human! – and you’ll be rewarded for it in better engagement, investment and performance. 

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