Considered a key moment in the year, the period of annual appraisals enables managers and employees to discuss strong points, areas for improvement, skills, and targets for the coming year. The appraisal cannot be improvised; it needs to be prepared. Under certain circumstances – the Covid-19 pandemic, for example – these appraisals can be conducted via video call. This is a useful solution when something unexpected turns up – a sick child or public transport strike, for example. So, how do you go about conducting an annual appraisal remotely? What good practices can help you plan it with peace of mind?
Plan the interview in advance
It is important that the manager organises the meeting in advance, just as they would if it was a face-to-face appraisal. That way, the employee has plenty of time to prepare. An appraisal via video call can seem more informal so it is important to maintain certain boundaries.
Present the appraisal format
So your employee can prepare their interview as well as possible, make sure you communicate what format it will take when you set the date. Bearing in mind that oral communication only accounts for 20% of a person’s understanding of a message, remote conversations cannot be considered in the same way as face-to-face ones. Stick to a traditional annual appraisal plan that you are both familiar with, to avoid adding any further complexity to the new format.
Plan a shorter period of time for the interview
When preparing your annual appraisals, bear in mind that a person’s concentration span is very different in a virtual setting compared with face-to-face. Avoid going over 1 hr 30 min. Any more than that and your participants will begin to switch off and look at their emails or phone, no longer taking your remarks on board.
Further reading: Teleworking: Rediscover office life without leaving home
Use a platform that will enable you to create a customised virtual space
Ideally, use a secure, welcoming virtual space customised in your company colours for all your annual appraisals. Your employees will immediately feel more comfortable. You can also create a personalised virtual space for each of your employees so they can log in prior to the meeting and even save any material they need.
Talk about the pandemic situation
Make sure you are even more available to listen during this difficult time. Ask your employees for their feedback on working from home, for example. It will help you identify those employees who would like to continue working from home in the future and those for whom returning to the office is a priority.
Rephrase the messages you want to get across
In video calls, tone and body language can be interpreted differently than in face-to-face meetings. Try to rephrase each important idea, to make sure you are both on the same wavelength and avoid any misunderstandings. Give your employees the opportunity to express themselves freely and encourage them to talk.
Share documents and take notes
If you conduct your annual appraisals on a platform offering the possibility of creating virtual spaces and document sharing, make sure you use these functions. Save useful documents, results, graphs, pictures, etc. This will make your discussions more fun and interactive and help you communicate more effectively.
Set short-term goals
This past year has shaken up everyone’s lives. Uncertainty and doubt about the future continue to dominate. If possible, try and stick to short and medium-term goals. Expectations for the year ahead may be a source of extra stress.
Leave room for informality
When conducted face-to-face, annual appraisals tend to start and finish on a more informal note, with a coffee for example. When conducting interviews via video call, try to find time to discuss more personal matters.
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