Adapting Performance Reviews for Success in a Hybrid Work Environment

As organisations navigate how work should be done in the future of work, they are revisiting their long-held assumptions on business processes, practices, and people. One of the key focuses is on management models. With the prevalence of hybrid and flexible working, organisations are reimagining the role of managers, who serve as the crucial connectors between the wider organisational network and their people.

According to the Harvard Business Review article “Managers Can’t Do It All,” co-authored by Professor Lynda Gratton and Diane Gherson, the role of managers is undergoing a significant transformation across three dimensions: power, skills, and structure. Managers are shifting their perspective from “me” to “we,” focusing on empowering their teams over individual success. They now prioritise coaching and providing wellbeing support instead of solely overseeing work. Additionally, managers are encouraged to view their teams as dynamic entities in a hybrid context, emphasising adaptability and flexibility.

A case in point is performance reviews. Performance reviews have traditionally been a key measure for assessing and evaluating people’s performance, providing feedback to support development. However, the shift to hybrid and remote working introduces complexities in the review process. Managers face challenges in evaluating performance as people work in increasingly flexible ways. Scott Behson, a professor of management at Fairleigh Dickinson University, highlights that biases and subjectivity can be amplified in a hybrid workplace when using traditional evaluation methods.

To address these challenges, organisations can adopt a hybrid-specific approach to performance reviews. Managers need to modify their review processes to ensure fairness and effectiveness in a hybrid work environment. There are several ways to do this:

Establish Clear and Objective Performance Criteria – Relevant and measurable metrics, such as output levels, should replace subjective measures like working hours. Clear performance criteria specific to each person’s role provide a foundation for fair evaluations.

Create a regular cadence of 1-to-1 Coaching Sessions – Implementing recurring coaching sessions allows for real-time feedback and guidance, fostering performance improvement and positive wellbeing. These sessions provide opportunities to address challenges and align goals with changing work dynamics.

Minimise Biases through Upskilling – Organisations should provide upskilling opportunities to help managers recognise and minimise workstyle biases during performance assessments. By fostering objectivity, managers can conduct evaluations that are accurate and fair.

The transition to hybrid work requires organisations to reimagine of the role of managers; what good performance looks like; and the process of performance reviews. By shifting from individualist perspectives to team-centric approaches, incorporating clear performance criteria, regular coaching sessions, and bias-minimisation upskilling, organisations can enhance the fairness and effectiveness of performance evaluations. Embracing these adaptations enables organisations to support their people’s career development and foster success in the evolving landscape of work.

Read the full Harvard Business Review article “Managers Can’t Do It All” here.