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How to conduct effective performance reviews remotely

Conducting an effective performance review can be a challenge at the best of times – for all parties involved. With the additional complexity of managing the review remotely, it’s clear that more preparation is required to ensure it delivers for both the firm and the employee.

We’re all seeing individuals’ stress levels rise due to the blurring of work and personal lives, along with the requirement to deal with troublesome technology, noisy neighbours and unavoidable family interruptions, across all remote meeting settings. These issues need to be taken into consideration and both the reviewee and reviewer need to recognise potential sensitivities and apply understanding and patience, as performance can be a delicate subject matter.

Here are some top tips for making your remote performance reviews go without a hitch:

Give everyone enough time

When scheduling the review, allow your reviewee enough time to manage the logistics of an online meeting. Don’t throw something in the diary at a moment’s notice. They (and you!) may have to make arrangements for childcare or negotiate with their partner/roommate for use of the most appropriate room in the house. If possible, be a little flexible with the scheduling and, if the original time set needs to be moved, there may be a good reason.

Face-time matters

Conducting a performance review face-to-face is much more beneficial than over the phone. So, in a remote review scenario, using video is ideal. It’s true, we’re all suffering from ‘Zoom-fatigue’ but this is a key time to switch the camera back on. With both parties able to see each other, you can pick up on body language cues, gestures and subtle signals which will allow the conversation to flow more easily.

Testing… testing… 1, 2, 3…

It may seem obvious but conducting a set-up and tech-check can help you foresee any difficulties before the main event. Do your headphones work? Is the microphone at the right level? Can you be seen by the camera? Is the background as you want it and, if not, do you need to set-up a background? Do you need any additional space for note taking, etc? Scheduling a tech rehearsal with a colleague can also be a great way to see if everything is working.


Allow some free time either side of the meeting for preparation and then any follow-up activities. We’re all guilty of having back-to-back calls and meetings throughout the day but allowing approximately 30 minutes either side of the review means you can give it the importance it deserves.

The time before allows you to get set-up properly and test your equipment; time afterwards allows for follow up on any agreed-upon actions, such as adding or approving objectives or adding post-meeting comments. Having a time buffer at the end of the review also gives you scope for the meeting to overrun – it’s important a reviewee gets the time needed for a full and frank discussion.

If you’d like to talk to any of our expert team at Objective Manager to find out how technology can facilitate your performance reviews in future, please get in touch.

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