Planning for 2021— It will be different!

January 14, 2021

By Tom Jackson, Tom Jackson Resources, Speaker/Facilitator/Coach

2020 is a year that no one planed for. The ink was barely dry on annual goals and objectives when many organizations were impacted and upended by COVID-19.

While 2020 was anything but normal much uncertainty in 2021 remains. Conducting performance and development reviews in a normal year can be a challenge. So, although performance reviews should not be skipped at this time, they should be approached in a different manner. In fact, the slated reviews may be the most important such meetings a leader will conduct. Performance evaluations involves reviewing what an employee has accomplished since the last review, especially in terms of meeting goals and making improvements in agreed-upon areas. The timing of performance evaluations vary by company to company but many hold these employee meetings on a quarterly basis.

When preparing for upcoming performance evaluations, being flexible is important, especially in a year that poses so much uncertainty. Keeping employees accountable for the same goals that were put in place last year is not fair or realistic considering the impact of COVID–19. However, these performance discussions are an opportunity for recognition. This is the time to shine the brightest light possible upon achievements, successes, and good results. During this unusual year we know that small things can be significant. By making small adjustments to the annual performance and development reviews, management may create an experience that fills the deep need many employees have.

It is vital to recognize the whole person. When the pandemic sent a vast portion of the workforce into a work from home mode, we suddenly expanded our knowledge and understanding of our team. This is a time for empathy and not just for performance and development, but an opportunity to see the whole person. It is important that the use of effective questions will demonstrate leadership’s concern for the individual. Questions like:   How are you doing—honestly?

How is working from home, working for you?

What can we do to be more helpful or supportive?

How are you doing in balancing work time, family time, and other responsibilities?

Asking these kinds of questions demonstrate leadership’s concern and support of their most valuable assets – – their people. And these questions, will generate feedback. Feedback is a gift, and it should be immediate and bidirectional. This is another opportunity to give your employees the gift of feedback and implement channels for them to give it to you as well. Reframing reviews is a way to get indications of how your team is feeling and that is more important now than ever.

One of the key benchmarks for these reviews is evaluating their adaptability. Recognize managers and employees who showed leadership during the efforts to transition to remote work without much planning. Seek to identify adaptable behaviors on how employees handled the pandemic response. Probably, there are some employees who have really engaged themselves during tough times and have proven to be good performers. This review time is a perfect opportunity to recognize them by praising the positive attitude they brought to the team.

In summary, these reviews are an important chance to connect.  During this time of performance reviews don’t talk at them, but rather ask them how they are really doing and listen carefully to their answers. Remember feedback is a gift of giving and receiving. By adopting a positive and somewhat a celebratory approach these performance and development reviews will be timely and extremely effective in obtaining increased productivity and commitment from the employees of your company. Planning for 2021—It will be different, but your preparation will be key!