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When Your Performance Review Goes Remote

performance evaluation paper with a pen on top with glasses next to the form on a brown table

Whether a performance review is conducted face-to-face or remotely — as is likely today — the goal is the same: to have a productive discussion about your work. But you may be apprehensive about putting your best foot forward or communicating your concerns when you can’t sit down with your manager in a relaxed and familiar setting. So, before you tune in to your remote video review, be sure you’ve done everything you can to set yourself up for a positive experience.

Before the review. Look at the feedback from your last review. You’ll want to point out progress you’ve made in the areas discussed last time, including improvements or simply continued success. Be especially aware of any specific areas that you were asked to work on — assume that your manager will be looking at notes from your last review as well. You should come into your evaluation with examples of how you responded positively.

Also making a list of your accomplishments is especially helpful when you’re working remotely. It can be challenging for managers to be fully aware of everything their employees are doing when no one is in the office every day. You need to be proactive in sharing your achievements and contributions while working remotely to ensure all of your contributions are front of mind for your manager.

During the review. Assuming you’ve already mastered video technology, Halverson emphasizes the need to communicate clearly. Because of the barrier imposed by not being in the same room, it’s more difficult to interpret reactions to what you are saying. So think about the best way to tell your story beyond reciting facts.

Don’t be afraid to take the lead occasionally. If your manager doesn’t touch on areas you want to discuss — specific goals, challenges, accomplishments — be proactive and bring them up yourself. After you’ve presented your ideas, ask for feedback. And take any negative observations in stride by asking what you can do to improve. Setting up a plan to deal with issues that come up during your review demonstrates your willingness to fulfill expectations and move forward in your personal development.

Following the review. Make a point of reflecting on your discussion to determine the specific things you want to work on as a result. It’s helpful to write out your plan so that you can refer to it periodically and make sure you’re staying on track. If possible, schedule check-ins with your manager to review your progress, which might not be immediately apparent in a remote work setting.

If you feel that your review was negative, consider that most employee performance problems are not because they lack the skills to do the job. Most performance issues relate to how you interact with others, handle projects, or manage your time. So if you have a negative review, you need to take a close look at behaviors that are holding you back and ask your manager for help. Development requires change, and one of the most important skills for long-term career success is the ability to change our own behavior.

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