The New Normal: How to evaluate employee performance now?

From tech giants to small family businesses, CEOs are at a crossroad. How to evaluate your employee in the post-COVID reality? Our answer is… go back to the essentials.

“Many companies left the era of the metric-based approach far behind. Nowadays, leaders are shifting towards What-How-Why methods, which allow them to evaluate employees in terms of integrating their behaviours with company values. Also, most CHRO use the Performance Management System with a well-defined methodology, which seems to be a must in a modern company culture,” says Thierry Goder, IMSA Mauritius.  

“Nevertheless, several companies still conduct performance reviews in the traditional way, using metrics and KPI’s. On the other hand, because of the coronavirus crisis the situation is so tense that remembering essentials is crucial when it comes to employee evaluation,” explains Marianna Carbonari, IMSA Italy.

Evaluating employee performance is always an awkward yet crucial part of every manager-team relationship. No matter how well you might improve your metrics system or how well-defined your PMS methodology is. During times of uncertainty, everyone is losing their nerves. What to do? Just breathe and focus on constant feedback.

Metrics and KPI’s can be considered old school, but not everyone is ready for Performance Management System. What is in the middle?

Several companies still conduct the performance review in the traditional way – based on numbers of phone calls taken or emails sent. If you are a CEO of one of them, consider changing as soon as possible. The metric-based approach often results in a situation where employees stop thinking about the quality of their performance. Instead, they focus on the number of actions taken, just to survive the evaluation process. As Elizabeth Brockey pointed out in HRMorning: Company cultures are driven by metrics often play to the idea of “winners” and “losers” and create a zero-sum game. While there are aspects of competitiveness that can be used for positive motivation and encouragement, many of these zero-sum cultures can drive employees to hide, rationalise, minimise, or cover up—all to avoid failure.

Metrics are important, but they should not be the primary source of performance review. For this reason, a growing number of companies have decided to abandon the pure metric-based evaluation approach. They try to empower their employee by providing continuous performance appraisal and proper management. Even for sales and production teams – hard numbers will always be the important indicator their success – moving away from pure KPI’s assessments is a common trend. The trend is hard to miss.

Feedback as an elementary tool in evaluating employee performance

  • A huge first step forward may be changing the way of giving and receiving feedbackat your company. Most common approach is the managers, who still give feedback only occasionally. They treat the annual employee assessment as an occasion to express their general impression about a team member. That may be useful but is also stressful for both sides. To ease the tension, managers can give feedback more frequently. Managers/CEO should also understand that, as human beings, team members have personal and practical needs. In a feedback session, personal needs like empathy and self-respect will contribute a fruitful session through interaction. Last, but not least, feedback should be SPECIFIC. The STAR approach (ST- Situation- A -Action – R- Result) is a good way to structure the feedback session.
  • Feedback should be detailed and refer to specific task an employee is working on. It is essential to focus on different aspects of the project and give as holistic evaluation as possible. Also, this should cover as many sources as possible. Managers should listen to what TM, superiors, peers, clients, and customers tell about the specific team member. And take it into consideration. Using feedback as a primary tool in management is a milestone of creating the more open workspace with good communications practices, where each staff member can develop their skills and make a significant contribution to business development.
  • There is one additional thing to do to speed up the whole process. For some people receiving or giving feedback may be stressful, especially when they see it is as “unwanted”. Nevertheless, employees can be encouraged to ask for input daily. Introducing this practice to your workplace is a fantastic opportunity to empower your staff, and with time it will benefit from the high quality of work.

People who receive guidance and believe that their employer respects and invests in them will see all that attention as invaluable and will work more effectively. And this will ultimately let your business grow.