Performance Reviews in the Time of COVID-19: FBG’s Experience

A salient part of the FBG performance review process is goal development. Every year we dedicate time to devising individual goals. This goal-setting period represents a blank page of possibilities. Last month, the process hit a roadblock with COVID-19, bringing most goals and plans to achieve them to a hard stop.

As we work through these uncertain times, our leaders recognized that performance reviews would not look or feel the same in 2020. Traditionally, we have mid-year and year-end reviews, with employees providing updates on goals during these one-on-one meetings. Because of the unique environment we find ourselves in currently, many of these goals are no longer possible. Some require external education, attendance at a conference or sitting for an exam at a testing center. We do not want to add additional strain to employees due to circumstances beyond our control.

In an effort to relieve undue stress associated with meetings or goal achievement, the following three options were introduced to FBG employees in our recent virtual all-hands meeting. Each employee had time to determine the best choice given his or her personal situation and preference.

Option A – Keep the process the same. Employees selecting this option want to continue with our normal process, have meetings and pursue goals as originally discussed.

Option B – Cancel the meetings, keep the goals. Employees selecting this option did not feel a need for formal meetings but want to pursue agreed upon goals.

Option C – Cancel the meetings, cancel the goals. Employees selecting this option want freedom from the process to focus on other priorities.

It is important to communicate that the best option for each employee is the best option. We do not pressure employees to choose one option over another; the decision is entirely up to the individual.

It is also important to communicate the ability to update or change goals based on the current situation for those wishing to do so. Offering maximum flexibility is essential.

Lastly, regular one-on-one meetings with leaders makes this all possible. We have regular check-ins with each direct report which continues in our virtual world.

For many, including myself, experiencing this new normal and what it means is the goal we are pursuing each day. The ability to impeccably serve our clients is of primary importance, regardless of our external circumstances. By offering these options for performance reviews, we empowered employees to determine how best to serve our clients and themselves. Employees responded with gratitude to be part of the decision-making process. They valued having a choice in how they move forward.

Should your company consider modifications to the performance review process this year, assess opportunities to provide meaningful options for employees, keeping their new normal in mind.

For more information on goal setting or how to communicate with employees during these unique times see previous blog posts:
Coronavirus, Communication and Culture
Jeff Glasbrenner & Goal Setting