December 21, 2020

The New York Times Turns to Susan Kline for Tips on Remote Performance Evaluations

In the article “How to Manage Performance Evaluations in the Work-From-Home Era,” The New York Times spoke with labor and employment partner Susan Kline about best practices for managers to consider when conducting performance reviews in a remote environment.

Kline told the publication that an important first step for managers is to gather information before giving the performance review. “You won’t have as much information to go on when you aren’t in the office together every day, so ask other team members, customers or partners for feedback on the employee,” Kline said. “If two people have similar responsibilities but you learn that one person is the “go to” for advice and problem-solving among their teammates – that matters.”

“Ask who stood out so you can celebrate them,” Kline added.

Kline also emphasized that employers and managers should remember that employee goals may have been changed or upended due to challenges in 2020.

“For goals that remained or were added, evaluate what the employees had to work with to accomplish them and how they adapted,” Kline said. “Personal qualities like flexibility, creativity, initiative and teamwork might have loomed larger than task lists and should be recognized. Even just keeping a positive attitude and encouraging and helping others while the work world changed means a great deal to a team and should be called out.”

Lastly, Kline told The New York Times that managers should end the reviews in an upbeat manner. “Recognize emotional contagion — a manager’s attitude and mood can affect the team. If it’s sincere and not too corny, end the meeting upbeat with language like, ‘We got this’ or ‘I have your back.’”

“Reflect on 2020 as a year of upheaval,” Kline added, “then transition to what shared success will look like in 2021.”

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