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Many companies have grown their global remote workforce since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. In March 2021, 70 percent of CIOs worldwide reported they were working remotely, and 31 percent expected to continue working remotely indefinitely. Further, Globalization Partner’s 2021 Global Employee Survey revealed that 48 percent of respondents felt happier about their job after shifting to remote work.
Many companies have adapted operations to these newfound circumstances; however, employers might not know how to conduct performance reviews remotely. When holding remote performance reviews for a global team, the first order of business is to decide what criteria to use to assess performance. During the meeting, ask qualitative questions focused on your team’s growth and future. Also, recognize the challenges of leading a remote global workforce, and adapt your management systems and policies accordingly.
Regardless of how you choose to evaluate your remote employees, the purpose of every evaluation should be to ensure your team has the resources and skills to achieve the company’s overall objectives. Remote performance reviews help foster a unified company culture based on a shared mission while also helping employees advance in their careers.
Decide how to assess performance
Before conducting remote performance reviews, you’ll have to develop a strategy for these assessments. You should evaluate the various types of performance reviews to determine what works best for remote team members from different cultures. Then, consider the periodicity of these feedback sessions before deciding what you’d like to achieve through your remote assessments.
1. Evaluate common types of performance reviews
People from different cultures have varying expectations for how they prefer to receive feedback. Therefore, the type of performance evaluation you choose depends on where your remote team is located. The two most common performance review methods include the competitive evaluation method and the coaching and evaluation model.
- The competitive evaluation method ranks employees based on productivity and expertise and dismisses those with the lowest performance. While this model provides quantifiable data, it lacks the accuracy of other assessment styles.
- The coaching and development model helps employees improve their skills and advance as professionals. Most modern employers prefer to use this model to help employees grow in their careers and, ultimately, contribute to the company’s mission.
Two other popular performance review types are 360-degree feedback and thetop-down approach.
- In 360-degree feedbacks, all members of the company can evaluate one another. Rather than feedback coming solely from managers, employees’ peers can help give them advice for growth.
- A top-down approach, on the other hand, is a traditional evaluation method in which managers provide constructive feedback to employees.
2. Choose how often to give feedback
You’ll want to give feedback more frequently when you conduct performance reviews remotely. While you might consider holding yearly reviewsto follow the traditional office practice of providing annual or bi-annual feedback, quarterly or monthly feedback better supports employee growth.
Communication is more accessible in an office setting, as your entire team is in one place for a specific duration of time. However, employees in a remote environment might find difficulty communicating with team members in various locations and across different time zones.
Prioritize continual communication and keep regular contact with team members in the weeks following formal feedback sessions. By holding frequent conversations with employees, you can coach your team throughout the quarter to help them grow professionally and achieve their goals. Routine communication will also help team members get to know each other and feel part of the unified company culture.
3. Determine your evaluation goals
Centralize your company mission when considering what to evaluate in your remote performance reviews. Instead of using these meetings to criticize employees, prioritize helping your team members become more confident and strive toward continuous improvement.
Before conducting performance reviews for remote employees, contemplate the actions each member of your team can take to further your company’s goals. Your management team should work together to develop specific objectives for each department and employee. Establish a feedback system that flows in all directions to encourage company-wide growth. Train managers to empathetically help employeesexpand their skills and encourage employees to voice concerns to managers.
Remember that each team member has different working conditions and resources. At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, employers worldwide sent employees home for remote work. Employees rapidly had to adapt to new working conditions. Many quickly learned that the home environment is rife with distractions, as family members, pets, and noisy neighbors proved to be everyday interruptions.
These new circumstances prompted employers to adapt how they evaluated their employees. Pre-pandemic performance no longer sufficed as the baseline for evaluation. When developing evaluation criteria, you should compassionately consider how remote work might impact your employees. Ask what you can do to support your team.
Conduct the remote performance review
After deciding how to evaluate productivity, determine the best way to conduct the remote performance reviews. You should develop and implement a company policy on how to do performance reviews remotely. Like any evaluation, first prepare your materials for the meeting. Next, set the meeting’s tone to make team members feel comfortable asking questions and voicing concerns. Finally, during the evaluation, you’ll want to ask qualitative, future-focused questions to help your employees grow in their careers.
1. Prepare for the meeting
When preparing to conduct performance reviews remotely, you should create a pre-meeting checklist to ensure all team members understand what to expect during the remote meeting. While your list can contain information specific to the performance evaluation, it should also include the following instructions for both managers and employees:
- Check your technology: Make sure your computer, webcam, and microphone are working. To ensure all team members have working technology, consider supplying your employees with modern communication equipment.
- Find a quiet place: If you have family members at home, notify them of the time and duration of your meeting so they know how long you’ll be unavailable. You should also check that your background isn’t distracting and looks presentable for a business setting.
- Prepare materials: Prepare for the meeting by reading over notes, the employee’s work, and other relevant materials. You can also create a visual slideshow that includes team members’ specific achievements and areas for growth. During the meeting, share the slideshow with all present parties’ screens to keep the discussion focused. This visual resource is also a record to track team member growth and accomplishments.
Remember to send the meeting invitation and checklist to all employees who will be present at the evaluation. Include the date, time, and virtual meeting link in the communication.
2. Set the meeting’s tone
You should set the tone of the meeting at the beginning of the remote performance review. The nonverbal communication during in-person meetings is lost during remote conversations, so make sure your camera is on to mitigate this. By having each member turn on their camera, you’ll be able to make eye contact and read employees’ body language to identify what they may not be verbalizing.
Communicate that you’re empathetic to your employees’ needs by establishing that the conversation is two-way and that the team member under evaluation can voice concerns at any time. You should also make your expectations for the meeting clear by highlighting that the purpose of the assessment is to recognize strengths, target areas for improvement, and set goals to help the team grow.
Although each remote performance review you conduct will be different, aim to personalize evaluations for each employee. Customized assessments will help team members feel like a valued part of the larger company. Encourage questions throughout the meeting and ask how you can better support your team. Assure team members that you’ll follow up after the feedback session to build a company culture of ongoing communication.
3. Ask qualitative, future-focused questions
Rather than relying on traditional employee ranking methods, ask future-focused qualitative questions when conducting performance reviews for remote employees. Asking team members about their remote work experience instead of numerically ranking them will help account for employees’ different remote working conditions.
Evaluations should also look toward the future, and only about 30 percent of the meeting should focus on employees’ past performance. The remaining 70 percent of the assessment should be used to address the employee’s professional growth. Discuss upcoming projects and help your team set goals that are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Focus on ways to improve the remote experience, as happier employees are more productive and engaged.
Beyond asking questions, you should also request that employees complete self-evaluations. Self-reviews provide valuable insight into employees’ professional objectives, assess their sense of belonging at the company, and whether they feel valued. These evaluations also help management discover how to better assess, assist, and motivate team members. Include both open-ended and rating-scale questions to get an accurate picture of the employees’ views.
Recognize the challenges of global remote employee performance management
In a multinational company, you’re likely to have team members working remotely across the globe. Globalization Partner’s 2021 Global Employee Survey found that 30 percent of respondents worked on a team with employees from other countries. Working with a global team comes with many advantages, including diversifying your company culture and broadening your reach. When considering how to do performance reviews remotely, you’ll have to be aware of cultural differences, consider various time zones, and implement policies consistently across the entire company.
1. Be aware of cross-cultural differences
Team members from different cultures have different expectations for the workplace. Because of varying cross-cultural priorities, you’ll want to adaptremote performance reviews to meet these expectations. Research shows that feeling connected is an aspect global teams struggle with. When evaluating and building a remote international team, you’ll want to consider how employees’ cultures may impact their communication methods, working and management styles, values, and time perception.
For example, while some cultures value individualism and independence, others might value collectivism, leading to more collaborative working styles. Further, some work environments might be more competitive or cooperative depending on the workplace culture. Understanding different cultural practices and expectations can help you conduct performance reviews more accurately, fairly, and consistently.
Provide cross-cultural training for team members to raise awareness and become more sensitive to different workplace practices. You can advise and educate team members on general cross-cultural communication and standards.
2. Work across time zones and language barriers
Survey respondents answered that scheduling across time zones was the biggest challenge when working with global teams. Significant differences in time and distance impact when and how you’ll conduct performance reviews for remote employees. Make sure all team members attending the evaluation know when the meeting is taking place in their time zone.
Try to maintain a company culture of having a four-hour overlap of working hours for team members in different time zones. An overlap ensures that employees will be accessible for those four hours regardless of their location. However, you should still ensure your team is flexible with remote employees working in different time zones.
For the past several years, communicating across language barriers has also been a challenge for global teams. Companies with employees who regularly use more than five languages have the most difficulty effectively communicating. Consider how many languages your team speaks as part of your remote employee performance management. You can ask team members for recommendations on ways to facilitate interactions.
3. Implement policies equally company-wide
Finally, you’ll want to ensure your company policies are implemented equally across all departments. Focus on larger organizational goals to set global standards that apply company-wide. While the practices and standards in different departments may vary, all team members are working toward the same mission regardless of location.
Although remote teams have more difficulty with collaboration and connectivity, you can help your global employees feel valued by implementing remote-first policies. While you may still have some employees working in the office, you should tailor all meetings and activities to include remote workers.
To make your company remote-first, consider prioritizing asynchronous communications. While you should still encourage team members to communicate in real-time, when necessary, asynchronous communication is the most accessible form of workplace correspondence for remote teams. You should also ensure your management team is employed remotely across the globe rather than only working at in-person headquarter buildings.
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