Written by MSU HR Organization and Professional Development
Whether your department plans to continue remote work, switch to a hybrid model, or bring everyone back to campus ASAP, Performance Excellence discussions likely have a different feel this year. The reality is that Performance Excellence—annual, probationary, and interim reviews, performance planning and goal setting—is very much needed despite all the recent and upcoming transitions and unknowns. Here are some tips to help you stay on track with these important discussions regardless of how and where the conversations take place.
Keep with it
Do not postpone coaching, feedback, 1-on-1 sessions, or performance reviews during this time. Our instinct may be to put off these conversations until things are “back to normal.” However, the opposite is true. Due to the highly unusual year we’ve all experienced, it’s imperative to connect with employees right now. Even in times of crisis, people still want to know that their long-term growth and success haven’t been forgotten.
Now’s an ideal time to revisit goals and keep the focus on the future. Identify opportunities, quickly communicate changes to your staff, and prepare them for potential pivots. Don’t ignore performance issues or delay accountability conversations. It’s as important as ever to address these matters as soon as possible. Put in the work now to help avoid larger issues in the future.
Establish, re-evaluate and reiterate criteria for success
Amid so many changes, consider establishing new definitions of success. Think short-term, well-defined, and task-based. Take a goal-based approach to performance measurement that focuses on clearly defined expectations and standards—for example, SMART and HARD goals or objectives and key results (OKRs)—to allow for a more flexible or task-based approach where metrics don’t exist or can be deceiving.
This is especially important when evaluating teams working from home. It is critical for those teams to focus on clearly defined outcomes and performance indicators (e.g., metrics, goals, deliverables). Don’t mistake activity and participation—such as emails, meetings, or hours on a timesheet—for high-quality, productive performance outcomes. Clear, established goals provide a straightforward way for both the supervisor and employee to truly gauge success.
Shift your perspective
As some employees remain remote and others return to the office, it’s important to re-tool our ability to read performance. Put effort into deciphering the increasingly blurry line between work and life. As one manager put it, it’s necessary to now “balance the need for flexibility that’s specific and supportive to the individual’s needs with the need to also somehow be equitable to others.” This will require effort on your part with thoughtful consideration of what your employees need as individuals and as a team.
With a few changes to our thinking and approaches, the Performance Excellence components of goal setting, performance planning and measurement can continue to benefit your employees, your team as a whole, and you as a supervisor. Visit the Performance Excellence pages on the HR website to find tips, tools and relevant forms. The Conducting Annual Performance Reviews Remotely page provides additional assistance for working with remote employees.