Fairer performance reviews in a hybrid workplace

In hybrid workplaces, creative approaches to performance evaluation are necessary to ensure that all employees, regardless of where they do most of their work, are evaluated and developed according to their performance. Workplaces that have successfully managed hybrid employee reviews do three things. First, they define performance in terms of customer satisfaction, company values, core activities and project completion. Second, they include regular goal setting and feedback sessions. Finally, they encourage collaboration and team building by spreading performance appraisal responsibilities across the workforce. With these needs in mind, each company can develop its own performance appraisal system that will help its employees to grow and improve, regardless of their location.

One of the biggest challenges of managing in a hybrid work environment is finding ways to accurately assess performance. With some employees working in the office most of the time and others working from home most of the time, it is important that reviews are not unduly influenced by the time a manager sees their employee face-to-face.

In writing The Whole-Person Workplace, I interviewed representatives from over 40 companies as they grappled with the challenges of remote and hybrid work brought on by the pandemic, focusing in part on employee reviews. While there were many examples of how important traditional good management still was, I found that there were new hybrid-specific approaches that were smoothing the playing field and allowing employees and managers alike to do their best work. Here’s what I learned.

Emphasize culture and values

For hybrid workplaces, it is crucial that all employees understand and act according to your company’s values ​​- regardless of where they work.

One way to reinforce shared values ​​is through your approach to performance appraisal. For example, the online retailer Zappos evaluates employees on both performance and whether they promote the Zappos culture in their daily work. According to founder and former CEO Tony Hsieh, “We fire people if they’re not good for the culture, even if they do their jobs perfectly.”

Similarly, the performance appraisal program at Johnstone Supply, a New Jersey-based HVAC supplier company, puts its values ​​front and center. According to CHRO Chris Geschickter: “When we conduct performance reviews, our most important criteria are our values. The bulk of our performance evaluation consists of reflecting on our core values ​​and then assessing whether an employee’s behavior in relation to customer service, teamwork and the like aligns with them. For us, performance appraisal is a year-round conversation with a lot of self-evaluations.”

Values-based appraisal approaches create a common platform for evaluating employee performance in different situations while promoting a consistent workplace culture. While the incorporation of values ​​into performance evaluation isn’t exactly new, duplicating efforts in this regard seemed to resonate particularly strongly in hybrid environments.

Continuously track key metrics

Dallas-based tax services firm Ryan, LLC transitioned to a results-driven work environment in 2008 that allows employees to work from anywhere, anytime. Their transition has been a huge success – sales have plummeted; Morale, engagement, customer satisfaction and financial performance have all skyrocketed.

Key to making it work is a performance appraisal approach that uses a set of agreed performance metrics that are tracked consistently and can be accessed at any time from a convenient intranet dashboard. Former CHRO, Delta Emerson explained, “Managers and employees can log in and see their dashboard. It shows their sales targets and other performance targets, as well as their position and how their performance contributes to the performance bonus. Finally, we hold managers accountable by tracking revenue and engagement metrics across their groups.”

It’s important to note that Ryan’s approach – which provides clarity about goals and continuous performance measurement – translates perfectly to hybrid work environments. Their system is fair and transparent to both those employees who primarily work in the office and those who primarily work remotely, and most importantly creates accountability for managers in employee engagement and retention.

use technology

With agreement on which metrics of employee performance to track, companies can use the technology to further level the playing field. For example, General Electric uses an app-based system that allows employees to share performance milestones with their teams and managers.

While the company once prided itself on its formal, competitive annual performance review process, this new approach encourages collaborative performance discussions. Managers use it to provide employees with frequent feedback on performance “touchpoints.” And colleagues use it to provide real-time development feedback and recognition.

This approach focuses employees and managers on continuous improvement and development, and supports decisions about raises, promotions and development opportunities, which now take place throughout the year. As a result, the app-based system helps level the playing field by ensuring employees, managers and colleagues can better “see” each other’s work and provide feedback no matter where the work is being done.

If your workplace has changed, your assessment process must change as well

The move to remote or hybrid environments has been a bumpy one for many organizations. However, what I’ve seen in my research is that traditional good management, including frequent goal setting, peer feedback, and progress reporting, is still important. The difference was how companies must now apply these principles. And while I’ve seen companies use them in the ways outlined above, they’ve all been successful for three reasons.

First, they defined performance in terms of customer satisfaction, company values, core activities and project completion. Second, they included regular goal setting and feedback sessions. Finally, they encouraged collaboration and team building by spreading performance appraisal responsibilities across the workforce.

The lesson, then, is that creative approaches to assessing performance in hybrid workplaces are not only possible, but required. This is the only way to ensure that all employees are evaluated and developed according to their performance, regardless of where they do most of their work.

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