New ways to give feedback during the pandemic

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How do you give employees feedback during the pandemic? There’s no doubt that employees are motivated by getting regular feedback. But if your team is remote it can be harder to get a proper picture of how they’ve gone about their work, and ultimately performed. 

In these unusual times, is it fitting to rethink how you give feedback? Here are some pointers on how to tweak performance reviews to reflect the pandemic workplace.

Tackle tricky moments ‘face-to-face’

It’s definitely best to lead with empathy. Everyone has had multiple obstacles to face this year - and employees have had to quickly adapt to a new way of working with the various challenges that brings. 

But if you do need to deliver constructive criticism, don’t be tempted to do it during an audio call. A voice-only review is no substitute and it needs to be ‘face to face’ via video.

Even with the odd technical glitch, video makes the most of body language and eye contact. As we know at HR GO by guiding clients and candidates through video interviews, being able to see the other person during these situations is crucial. You can monitor how they respond to what you’re saying - as well as ensure what you’ve said hasn’t been lost in translation.

Reward particular soft skills

Soft skills have always been crucial in top performers, but so many people now working from home have highlighted some particular ones that are crucial for working in a remote team. (We also ran through what to look for in a remote employee, here).

One of these skills is time management. Without colleagues to keep each other accountable in person, or knowing that a manager could walk by and check on them, being able to manage your own time - and stay focused on your work - is important.

Adaptability counts for a lot, too. Look for examples of staff being able to adapt to a new way of working this year, with unexpected twists and turns along the way - especially if their focus and productivity haven’t slipped.

Having a positive outlook has proved to be another bonus soft skill. During dark and uncertain times of the pandemic, team members who’ve been able to look on the bright side and encourage their colleagues deserve extra praise.

Feedback more often

Even before the pandemic, research suggested that employees prefer the 'little and often' approach when it comes to feedback. A study by Gallup showed that giving regular, weekly feedback boosted staff engagement by more than 50%.

And being distanced from a team now makes it more important to have more regular check-ins - weekly or fortnightly perhaps?

Be flexible with goals

The old method of performance reviews - setting an annual or six-monthly goal - doesn’t sit right with today’s ever-changing business environment.

So while it’s still crucial to set goals, bear in mind that conditions are bound to change - and with them, so should the goals.

Show appreciation above all

These exceptional circumstances mean that it’s hard to do many things as normal - and that definitely includes performance reviews.

So perhaps it’s best to take a leaf out of Silicon Valley’s book - and just give everyone an A+ this year. In March, Facebook told its 45,000 staff that they’d all be getting the same ‘exceeds expectation’ at their next performance review.

Of course, there might be employees who’d been under-performing before coronavirus hit. And there’s still a need to give staff a clear overview of what’s going well and what could be looked at.

But being generous with the praise in uncertain months won’t just strengthen your company culture. It’ll also create loyal members of the team who give back tenfold when times do get easier.

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