( 3 MINUTE READ )
After reading the headlines of the morning paper or skimming your online newsfeed, it is hard to deny that 2020 has been a year of dramatic change. From the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak to increased regulations around international travel and the uptick in children and parents learning and working from home, change is in the air. The business market has seen more than its fair share of
fluctuations in response to the pandemic as well. And with that comes the challenge of continuing to support your employees’ development in an environment that may feel unstable or even temporary.
Take performance reviews, for example. Word on the street is that many employers have chosen to postpone or even cancel review processes scheduled to take place over the last seven months. While it may be tempting to skip altogether, it is important to consider the message you are sending to your employees. This two-part series will explore some common reasons why employers have decided to halt performance reviews.
“We are waiting until things go back to normal.”
During the first few weeks of the pandemic in the United States, companies played the “wait and see” game, and for good reason. Today’s leaders did not have experience dealing with this specific type of crisis and there was no rule book from which to draw. As a short-term strategy, many standard meetings and internal processes were put on hold so that companies could address urgent issues. Company meetings, open job requisitions, and (you guessed it) performance reviews were postponed until things went back to normal.
Weeks have since turned to months. While some employers are still deferring the decision, the time has come to talk about how to handle the elephant in the room. How will you support performance management moving forward? There is simply no guarantee that work will ever go back to normal. Case in point – how often have you heard the phrase “new normal” mentioned lately? Additionally, and more than ever, motivated employees are still looking for feedback. They still want to know how they can grow and if there is a future for them at your company. If your company is waiting to provide developmental opportunities after things go back to normal, you may just be giving another message to your star employees that they are better off at another company.
“We don’t want to give more bad news.”
Some companies may shy away from completing performance reviews because the messages they need to share are not good. That information could be that the company is not doing well or there will be limited year-end raise or bonus potential. The message could be more individualized that an employee’s performance has been subpar after repeated coaching conversations.
Are employees really in a state of mind to hear “more bad news?” The answer, surprisingly enough, is yes. Employees are likely aware that something is wrong, and in this case, their manager is adding insult to injury by avoiding the topic at hand. Refusing to address hard topics has a ripple effect as well. It affects the engagement and wellbeing of employees even in the good times. One of the signs of a good manager is the ability to be transparent and forthright even when times get tough. The Forbes article, “How Great Leaders Deliver Bad News,” points out that when a manager is honest in sharing difficult news, people assume that they will be brave in other ways as well. Employees develop further trust in their manager knowing that he or she is not going to hide information. And trust is important when dealing with chaos.
Watch for Part 2 next month!