Have you thought about conducting a performance review with your virtual administrative professional?
Performance reviews are a typical and expected part of work life when you’re co-located in an office, but employers often seem to hesitate over the virtual performance review. In light of the pandemic, many are wondering how to conduct the review while remaining sensitive to the situation, as well as determining review goals.
There are plenty of good reasons to go ahead with virtual administrative professional performance reviews. It’s even possible to adapt your review to be appropriate to the current environment (whatever that may be for you and your team!).
Here are some of our thoughts on conducting performance reviews effectively from a distance:
Why conduct performance reviews with your AP?
There are several good reasons to conduct performance reviews with your virtual administrative professional. For one thing, as a valued member of your team, your AP, like most other workers, wants feedback. In one poll of 1,000 U.S. workers, 92% wanted feedback about their performance at work more than once per year. The overwhelming response was that workers want fair, frequent, and accurate feedback.
Performance reviews not only help workers to know where they stand in the eyes of their employer, but to know that their contribution is valued and that someone is paying attention! Sometimes lack of feedback is interpreted as lack of engagement with employees, or simply feeling they aren’t worth spending the time on.
Another big reason to conduct AP performance reviews is to set goals for your team. During a challenging period such as the pandemic, it’s not necessarily about identifying poor performance or determining who gets a raise, it can be to strengthen company culture and relationships, too. Performance reviews give you the opportunity to seek feedback as well as give it.
This give-and-take feedback is a great opportunity to ensure that you and your AP are on the same page with regard to company goals. After all, APs play a big role in helping you to achieve them! Performance reviews that are conducted well will help you to get the full picture of what is going on, including any challenges your AP may be facing.
What should you consider in setting up a review?
Establish the purpose (or set of goals) for the review. Managers often seem to feel a sense of dread over conducting reviews and see them as a “necessary evil” but they can be valuable. Remember, they are an opportunity to work together.
Should you consider the impacts of the pandemic? Yes! It’s better to be sensitive to the challenges and changes it may have brought for your employees. To give just one example, even those who have been accustomed to working remotely may have had other impacts. A lack of available childcare has been one that has reverberated nationwide, as have the various health impacts of Covid. You can be sensitive to these issues while still working together toward goals.
With these things in mind, be clear on what you’re basing your assessment on. If its contribution toward ROI now as compared to prior to the pandemic hitting, it may be a situation of the goalposts needing to move. Obviously companies still want to reach successful milestones, but in the spirit of a fair review, consider aspects such as how resilient the person has been, or how willing they have been to adapt to a new environment.
As a manager, the hardest line you could take is to look only at deliverables, while ignoring what has gone on in the home life of the employee during a public health crisis. A flexible, compassionate approach will tend to be the most effective. Employees will remember what your response was at this time and it can either help or hurt team culture.
To help set up for a productive review, it’s a good idea to set expectations and send any paperwork ahead of time. This helps to make your employee more comfortable with the process and open to discussing feedback.
How should you conduct the performance review?
Here are our tips for conducting a remote performance review:
Have cameras on
With so much of how we communicate being non-verbal, one of the challenges of communicating remotely is missing that element. When you can’t be together in the same room, simulate the experience by having cameras on.
This also helps to show that you are “present” and that your AP has your undivided attention. With cameras off, you could be doing anything else behind the scenes.
Gather different forms of data
How are you measuring performance? Where does the information come from? Being careful to gather different forms of supporting data helps to keep the review fair and transparent. Fairness is important for maintaining morale and staff engagement.
That data could also include a self-evaluation. It’s important to know how your AP views their own performance and why. What if there’s something you’ve completely missed when you’ve made your own assessment?
Review goals and talk about any changes
Goal review and the setting of new goals is a key part of any performance review. Look at the priorities that you set last year (or prior to the pandemic) and talk about how they went - were there challenges in the way to achieving them? Did the business have to make pivots during the year?
Setting realistic goals for the next period should be part of your review. Consider what needs to change or what needs more work. Acknowledging how performance was impacted by events such as the pandemic will help to give employees confidence in the fairness of your review process going forward.
As a final tip on goals, make sure they align with the values and goals of the company as a whole, too.
Prepare well ahead
You should never just “wing it” at a performance review. Everyone can smell lack of preparation from a mile away and it just sends the message that you’re not serious about doing a good job.
Because the review is for the ENTIRE period, consider all of the APs projects, feedback, and accomplishments. Sometimes there’s a tendency to be biased by recent performance, whether positive or negative.
Make sure your AP has plenty of opportunity to speak
Performance reviews should be a two-way conversation, rather than simply a manager reading out a report to an employee. Leave room for your AP to speak, as this also gives you the opportunity to gather needed feedback.
Virtual performance reviews can still be a valuable way to not just encourage high performance with your AP, but to bolster company culture. They are a great opportunity to get one-on-one time and gather feedback, as well as give it.
Remote reviews can be just as effective as in-person, but make sure you are sensitive to the environment. Have factors outside of the AP's control impacted performance? This is a common story across the pandemic and should be considered.
To get the best results, keep performance reviews fair. That’s what all employees want. Maintain transparency with how you assess performance and give the employee their say. This is one way to build up culture and engagement moving forward.
Need a high-performing virtual administrative professional for your business? At Worxbee, we hire the best. Talk to us about how we can help you today.