Pandemic Performance Reviews

How Working Daughters Can Prepare

Most companies made shifts over the past year in an effort to adjust to the realities of a pandemic that impacted the global markets and changed where and how people work. Businesses adjusted their financial projections accounting for overtaxed suppliers, reduced production capacity, and lowered sales volumes. Employee-focused shifts ranged from remote work, to furloughs in some cases, to Zoom-based happy hours and other efforts to infuse company culture and defuse worker stress. But did those companies also shift their performance evaluation processes?

If you are a working daughter facing an annual performance review this spring, you may find yourself looking at a familiar evaluation form and wondering if it has been translated into a language you don’t speak. Don’t fret. Here are some tips for approaching your review this year.  

First, consider your collective performance on both the work and home front. If 2020 taught us anything, it is just how blurred the lines between work and home actually are. If, like so many other family caregivers, you were as, if not more, focused on the health and well-being of family members this past year, than you were on the health of a key account, that’s perfectly normal and reasonable. Take some time to think through all that you accomplished across all aspects of your life. Did you move a parent in with you? Did you suffer a loss and are you grieving? Did you spend the year advocating for a parent in lock down? Were you also juggling home-based school for your children? Think about your year in its entirety before you home in on your work performance. You may not share all of this with your employer, but it’s important than you recognize and acknowledge all that you have achieved.

Second, evaluate your workplace performance. What were the highlights? Make a list of your accomplishments and successes. Be thorough. Are there things you did that fell outside the scope of your job? Did you help out a coworker or another team?What were the misses? Be honest. What were the things you were expected to achieve but didn’t?

Third, consider how you can and will adjust in the coming year. What lessons have you learned? What resources do you need – at home and at work? What can your manager expect from you moving forward?

Finally, prepare for your meeting. What do you want to communicate based on the three steps you’ve just taken? Based on your company culture, what level of detail should you share about your caregiving responsibilities? If you do choose to mention them, be sure to do so in the context of what you accomplished while caring for family, what you learned in 2020, and what you’ll put in place to succeed in 2021. Ideally, focus the review on your goals for the coming year with a realistic plan in place to accomplish them.  

And if you are the reviewing manager, do consider that your pre-pandemic performance process may no longer fit the realities of your business. Do allow for your employee to share the context under which they are working and living. Yes, you have a business to run and key performance metrics to meet despite what is happening in the world and it is reasonable to plan to achieve those. But it is realistic to understand the outside factors that your employees are dealing with so that you can make the adjustments you need to run the business effectively.

After the meeting

Both the employer and the manger should document in writing what was discussed and any agreements that were reached. Then take the steps necessary to build the support systems you need. And then recognize that we are still grappling with the pandemic and we all need some grace.

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