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People Management

How to Deliver Effective Performance Reviews as a First-Time Remote Manager

March 29, 2022
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5 mins

It's important to give effective performance reviews to your employees to improve employee morale, productivity, and growth. Here's how to lead an effective review as a first-time remote manager.

Marie Lamonde
It's important to give effective performance reviews to your employees to improve employee morale, productivity, and growth. Here's how to lead an effective review as a first-time remote manager.

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As a manager, it’s crucial to regularly review your employees' performance fairly and provide honest and relevant feedback. It affects employee morale, productivity, growth, and retention, so you want to get it right from the beginning. 

But that might not come as natural to you if it’s your first time in a management role — here’s how to hold an effective performance review as a new remote manager. 

Why are performance reviews important?

A performance review is a process in which managers evaluate an employee’s work performance. The purpose of a performance review is to learn more about your team’s strengths and weaknesses, offer constructive feedback for skill development and assist with goal setting.

Your performance review allows you to provide recognition and encouragement to your team, as well as improve their engagement. Not only that, but it can help create employee growth and improve your employees’ performance. It’s important for employees to know where they stand so they can improve their performance and feel like their progression in the company isn’t stalling.

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How to ensure fair performance reviews

The first thing to keep in mind when holding performance reviews is to stay as fair as humanly possible. 

Many managers think, “Of course, I’ll be fair!” but sometimes being fair isn’t as straightforward as it looks. Here are points to consider in order to review your employees fairly. 

1. Avoid biases 

As humans, we all have biases, it’s how our brain works. But as a manager, you have to not only be conscious of your own biases but take them into account during your performance review. 

If you don’t particularly like someone, or on the contrary, if you really vibe with them, it should have nothing to do with their performance review. So make sure you keep your biases in check all throughout the process, from the questions you ask, to the feedback to provide.

2. Show empathy

Employees are first and foremost human beings who go through different challenges. Maybe an employee is particularly tired, has a sick kid at home, or is going through relationship trouble — that’s all okay and normal. 

Put yourself in their shoes and understand what they may be going through. 

The same goes for any problems at work — show empathy if someone discusses an issue with you. You don’t want to blame them automatically or treat them like robots. People make mistakes. Keep that top of mind.

3. Use examples

If you want to see improvement in a particular skill or attitude, an example is the best way to explain it. 

Mention real-life examples of situations where the person should improve to make it clear. 

A good example could be: “When you think about a project you’d like to do, I want you to take the initiative by scheduling meetings, setting deadlines, and taking that project as your own responsibility.” You can get even more detailed by mentioning what can specifically be improved from past projects. 

Avoid being too vague like: “Take more initiative.” 

However, don’t use other people as examples, like: “be more like Brenda.” This creates unwanted competitiveness and can make your employees feel like they are not appreciated compared to their colleagues.

4. Allow room for employees to give feedback

It’s important to give your employees time to answer questions and give their honest feedback so you can improve as a remote manager. Give them time prior to their review to write down feedback, as well as time at the end of the review to add something or clarify. 

It’s important that they feel comfortable and heard, so listen, clarify, and act on the feedback you hear every time. 

How to conduct a performance review?

Now that you know how to get ready for a fair review, how should the performance review go? 

Hold a private video meeting

First off, make sure you discuss privately with your employee in a virtual meeting with the cameras on. Non-verbal communication is key. Seeing the face of your employee is crucial, as they might disagree, be surprised, have something to say, or have strong emotions and you want to be able to see it and act accordingly. 

If you’re delivering feedback you thought was obvious and your employee seems very surprised, it might be good to stop to clarify and discuss further. If you have a remote team, you can use your usual video conferencing tool, or do the meeting in your virtual workspace.

Come prepared

Be sure that before the meeting you have a few things prepared: review any data you have on this employee in regards to performance — number of sales, customer satisfaction, what they produced, what projects they worked on, and if it went well, their past reviews, etc. With that information on hand, analyze their progress and evolution since they started at the company. 

Take notes on what you think went well, what you think would need improvement, what you’d like their opinion about and any other relevant information. 

Be specific when discussing strengths and weaknesses

Comments like: “You’re doing a good job” are all good and dandy but, what does that even mean? 

What specifically are they doing that’s good? What should be improved? Make sure you help your employees improve by being specific. For example: “Your sales are through the roof! You’re doing amazing on that front! Just make sure you also ask about XYZ program when speaking to your clients.”

Create a development plan

At the end of the virtual meeting, summarize what was talked about and share the next steps so that the employee comes out of the review knowing exactly what to do. You can set up goals and deadlines to meet these goals, like improving their performance on XYZ by the next quarter. 

Now that you know how to conduct your performance review, it’s time to get started! Invest in a virtual meeting tool, analyze your employee's performance, and share a fair and empathic review. Remember to be transparent in between performance reviews so that feedback doesn’t come as a surprise and your employee can improve along the way. 

Meet the Author

Marie Lamonde

Marie is the content marketing lead at Remo. She loves to write helpful tips about virtual events and aim to help humanize online gatherings.

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