The truth about remote performance reviews

The yearly performance review is coming up, but this time it holds even more challenges than before. For most organizations, the performance review is a check-box that needs to be ticked. It's the way many companies usually decide how they're supposed to determinepay and establish accountability.

The truth about remote performance reviews


This year, it's a bit more challenging. This year has been nothing but usual, especially for employees. When thinking about performance reviews a few questions come to mind:

  1. How to be objective?
  2. How do you know how someone really performed?
  3. Objectives are probably outdated because of the pandemic, how can you evaluate someone on outdated data?
  4. What about external factors?

Below, we are giving a few tips and inspiration on why you should or shouldn't hold yearly performance reviews this year.

Performance reviews in most organizations are so bad that they do more harm than good

In the past, we have already established that the traditional performance reviews and approaches to feedback often do more harm than good, and while all those reasons are still valid, a new maybe even more important one came to the surface: remote working during COVID. Employees all over the world had a very difficult, unstable period in a still unpredictable environment. We had to build resilience like never before, at work and in our personal lives. This also affected performance, objectives, motivation and engagement. Which results in it being impossible to hold a performance review this year if you cannot base yourself on real-time data.

If you do not have any of that data available, we suggest you do not hold the yearly performance reviews the way you usually do it, but rather focus on coaching and guidance. This is also the opportunity to look for a different way to hold performance reviews that in general focus more on coaching, as this will motivate employees more.

Yearly performance reviews are 90% about administration

The yearly performance review is usually characterized by a fixed set of questions designed by HR. Objectives are set at the start of the year and never updated. This makes them irrelevant after one quarter. This proves to be a challenge, especially now when there is a lot of uncertainty about the future and upcoming challenges.

We suggest you do not set yearly objectives this year, but set quarterly objectives that you review every few weeks to see if they are still relevant. If you had set yearly objectives at the start of 2020 you can still evaluate these during the performance review, but do not grade people on them because chances are that they are not relevant anymore.

Yearly performance reviews focus too much on looking back

The yearly appraisal conversation does not focus on coaching or personal development but rather looks back on the previous ear and assesses whether or not someone performed well. This is usually 'justified' with a rating and an eventual bonus. Again, without any data, that is a decision that cannot be made. And while you previously could argue that you keep everything on paper in the office, this is not the case anymore.

In order to do support their teams, leaders need a support mechanism. They need a performance management tool. This way, managers can keep the right information in one centralised place that they can then base their performance review on, whether they hold yearly or quarterly reviews or none at all. The data in the platform will help you make informed decisions about pay, bonuses, hiring, ect.

Most organisations don't hold yearly performance reviews anymore

48% of organisations don't hold yearly performance reviews but rather hold quarterly reviews. Only 25% of organisations still hold one yearly performance review. We predict that the number of people holding continuous reviews will only increase.

What people need most right now is empathy. It's important to understand what you can do better for the upcoming months, by reflecting on what you have learned this year, by talking to your employees about what they expect from a performance review. 

Discover how Unit4 Talent Management supports performance reviews at Eurofins .Screenshot 2020-11-03 at 16.00.15