Knowledge Sharing

Performance Reviews in a COVID World

Dec 8, 2020 | Managing Performance

Performance Reviews are something that all Leaders in organizations (should) have had to lead at some point or another. I don’t know that I’ve ever met a Leader that enjoys conducting performance reviews, especially when we are talking about that annual review – you know, the one that is probably creeping up?

We are entering into that time of year, once again – the end of the year. Filled with budgets and data and, of course, performance reviews on top of it.  Emerging best practices suggest that employees are looking for regular feedback rather than just the once a year performance review.  Hopefully, you have already exchanged your annual performance review for a regular feedback model. If you haven’t, that’s ok…there is still time. A continuous feedback model for managing performance still includes that annual performance review meeting, but that meeting is an actual review of all the things that have already been discussed throughout the year, due to the regular ongoing feedback.

Now, we are all experiencing a global pandemic. Our situations may not all be the same, but it is affecting everyone and has forced organizations to adapt how work is performed. To bolster that statement, here are some stats from Statistics Canada:

  • Prior to February 1st, 2020 5.7% of Canadian workforces were teleworking or working remotely.
  • On March 31st, 2020 18.4% of Canadian workforces were teleworking or working remotely.

If your team is still working remotely, have you updated your performance management process to reflect the changes within the workplace?

Consider this: if an employee is now working in a different location and has a slightly different job description due to pandemic related changes, should they continue to be reviewed based off their previous position? The answer is no. Their performance needs to be evaluated in a manner that takes into consideration the way that their position has evolved, as well as the external factors that are probably influencing their work.

Performance reviews in the time of COVID-19 need to look different. But how? Here are some tips:

  1. Set clear expectations:
    This is a good performance management practice in “normal” times, but particularly important during a global pandemic where everything is unknown and uncertain. Help your team out by ensuring each team member has a solid understanding of what is expected of them.
  1. Set regular meetings:
    With uncertainty surrounding all of us, scheduling regular weekly or bi-weekly meetings with each member of your team to discuss performance and have clear lines of communication is a good idea. The continuous feedback model provides these opportunities, and this takes some of the stress of that annual performance review meeting.
  1. Adjust your data:
    You aren’t able to see your employees or interact and work with them in person on a day-to-day basis anymore, so you have likely lost access to some of your methods of assessing performance. Make sure you look to other avenues to gather applicable performance data. Are they completing work on time? Are they communicating appropriately? Are they helping others? Make sure to look for more qualitative behavioural data as opposed to quantitative data for your feedback.
  1. Be flexible:
    Be empathetic towards the external factors that are affecting everyone’s lives right now. Ensure you are communicating, listening and being understanding of situations that aren’t in your employee’s control.
  1. Gather other opinions:
    As noted in point #3, you aren’t able to see or interact with your employees every day, in person anymore. One way to gather feedback on an employee’s performance is through a 360-degree review.

The pandemic does not mean that an employee shouldn’t be evaluated and receive the feedback they have been looking for. Conducting performance management in a compassionate, supportive manner with a coaching approach will reduce uncertainty for your employees, as they know where they stand and what changes or improvements they need to implement.

Contact Pesce & Associates for further information about effective Performance Management; visit, or contact Elizabeth Hill at 416-491-1501 ext. 23.

Pesce & Associates is a full-service Human Resources Consulting Group that provides comprehensive, strategic consulting services carefully tailored to each client’s unique needs.

16 Belgate Place, Toronto, ON M9C 3Y4


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