Tips To Conduct Virtual Performance Reviews.

Tips To Conduct Virtual Performance Reviews.

Nobody likes doing performance reviews, whether you’re a manager or an employee. They are often tense and stressful. Having to do them virtually adds an extra layer of anxiety. So as a manager, how should you approach these virtual performance conversations? Below we offer some practical tips on how to prepare for the conversation and what to do during the call.


  • Think about why you are having the conversation. Your primary purpose should be to‘Check In’ rather than ‘Check Up’. This is more important than ever in these pandemic times. Most employees have their own personal challenges right now and need to be assured that their manager fully understands their situation and the circumstances they are operating under. How you’ve dealt with your employees and the compassion you’ve shown during these times will be remembered.
  • Gather your performance facts, supporting information and examples. What evidence have you of a strong or weak performance?
  • Diagnose the reasons behind any performance challenges. In our experience the reasons fall into 4 buckets: misaligned expectations, a gap in ability in terms of skills, knowledge, aptitude and resources, low commitment or confidence and lack of opportunity to deliver.
  • Know what messages you want to get across. Consider what you want to get from the conversation. Make sure that your feedback is balanced and that it’s not just what happened in the last week.
  • Consult your employee at an appropriate time. Consider where you hold the conversation and ask your employee to do the same. Friday afternoon is not a good time when we are all tired. While it’s now far more acceptable to see or hear ‘kids and cats’ during virtual meetings these days, the more sensitive nature of the performance conversation requires a quiet, secure area. Turn off phones, IM and email notification pop-ups.
  • Prepare yourself emotionally for the conversation. Check in with how you are feeling. Anticipate and prepare for questions and challenges. Know your triggers and have means to manage them
  • Be sure to have your cameras on; do not just conduct a voice call. Remember that much of how we communicate is non-verbal.  While less ideal than in-person discussions, video can still help convey non-verbal cues.
  • Have a back-up plan. If someone has a spotty internet connection or the video app fails, you may need to reschedule or call instead.
  • In person, we typically recommend you first share your assessment with the employee as you discuss the results. As a substitute for the virtual discussion, have a PDF of the assessment ready. Share this or your screen with your employee so you can both see and discuss your input together.


  • Turn off your self-view so that you see only your employee – this allows you to focus only on them and makes it more likely that you pick up on body language.
  • Allow gathering time to ease transition into the meeting space. Just as important as when we meet in person is the rapport building and interpersonal connections we share. Check in with how the person is doing and make sure the time for this meeting still holds. Something may have changed in their world – remember the challenges in differentiating work and home responsibilities. Many people are craving social interaction right now, especially if they live alone. Before diving into the meat of the conversation, ask about family and non-work related topics.
  • Set clear objectives, timelines and expectations for the meeting. Clarify the purpose and nature of the meeting. Make it professional. While the context may be different, this is still a very important element of the employment contract.
  • Be authentic – allow your whole self to be seen. Be vulnerable and honest. This is important in building trust. Trust is essential to engagement and engagement drives performance.
  • Give effective feedback – tread lightly with poor performers, these are not normal times. Your aim should be to support them in getting back on track. Make sure to acknowledge and reward your star performers. You need them now more than ever.
  • Listen with an open mind and curiosity to understand. Ask open questions. Check for non-verbal questions that indicate unspoken emotions. Be brave. Call out the emotions and bring them to the fore. Explore them safely.
  • If the employee reacts badly, stay calm. I recommend using the strawberry, dandelion, traffic light method. For those unfamiliar with this method – Take a breath when you smell the Strawberries, blow out the Dandelion and decide to stop, proceed cautiously or drive on! Acknowledge the emotion and use neutral and constructive words. Remember that I am responsible for my emotions but so are they.
  • Use a coaching approach to find solutions to performance challenges. While decades old, we find the GROW (Goal, Reality, Options, Wrap Up) model still works best.
  • Take brief notes during the conversation. It’s important to have a record of actions agreed, especially if you’re discussing sensitive topics like salary or bonus. Immediately after the conversation, clean them up and send them to your employee.
  • Afterwards, be sure to act on any commitments you’ve made. Follow up with your employee to check their progress against any actions they’ve committed to.

Whether virtually or in person, remember that your role as a manager is to support and enhance the performance of your employees in the long term. Show appreciation for employees who are engaged, working hard and delivering. Offer a little more flexibility and leniency to those that are struggling. We’re all in this together.

Want to know how OMT Global can help effectively manage your remote employees? Or need support with your employee development approach? Get in touch

Richard McCarthy

Richard joined OMT in 1998 and is head of Consultancy Services following a 14 year international career in project management, financial control and various management development roles. Richard specialises in working with Senior and Middle Management, focusing on critical Organisational Development Initiatives such as Strategy Development & Implementation, Change Management, and the roll-out of extensive Management & Leadership Development Programmes and One to One Executive Coaching. His previous work across Europe and Africa has helped him understand the impact of organisational culture, and change on managers’ ability to deliver successful results. Richard enjoys the challenge he gets from his work, especially working with clients who face difficult strategic choices or need to develop new skills & behaviours. Richard believes the rewards are satisfying when you know you have made a meaningful contribution.

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