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3 Days, 3 ThinkPad X1s: Test-Driving the Lenovo Fold, Yoga and Nano

Editor’s Note: This post, sponsored by our friends at Lenovo, represents the authors’ views.

There’s no question that work, especially since the pandemic began, has become multifunctional. Like so many people I know, I’m continually moving between meetings and research, emails and team collaborations, running webinars, brainstorming, and so much more. In addition, my remote team members and I switch functions constantly. As a result, I now realize that while I do have an office, it’s no longer my professional hub; it isn’t the center of what I do.

Now, more than ever, the work happens wherever I am.

This reality means the quality of my work depends on the technology I’m using. So when Lenovo approached me about testing three devices from their ThinkPad X1 line, I jumped at the chance. After all, I’m a firm believer in enabling people to function at their highest level. And we can’t do that unless we provide the right equipment and platform. You can’t lead if you’re constantly dealing with tech hiccups or having to make awkward shifts between platforms.

HR’s Role in Facilitating the WFA Future of Work

I’ve also been having many conversations about how best to facilitate remote, physical, and blended workforces. Business leaders and common sense dictate that HR take on this role. Of course, while filling that role, they must be capable performers themselves. Having worked with many innovators in the HR tech space, I know the best iterations of technology respond to needs and shifts in the workplace.

Among the factors Lenovo considers when developing products for the ThinkPad line is how we work, an understanding that is gained through in-depth research and customer feedback like that which is presented in the Lenovo Future of Work study. Its findings reflect the profound transformation the workplace has gone through recently. Not just in how we’re working, but what Information Technology Decision Maker’s (ITDM’s) must focus on as a result:

  • 89 percent of large companies currently use collaboration software to enable their work.
  • 88 percent of employees prefer to continue to work from home at least some of the time.
  • Half of ITDMs say their budget for software and tools grew during the pandemic; 41 percent expect growth next year.

With all this in mind, portable devices will remain a staple in the future of work. We can’t live without them, let alone be productive and collaborative. But keeping up with how we work isn’t enough; today’s technology platforms must make work easier. Based on my experience with the ThinkPad X1 line, this alone makes Lenovo a strong HR partner.

The Power Trio: Lenovo’s Fold, Yoga, and Nano

The three ThinkPad X1 products provided by Lenovo included two Intel Evo vPros — the Nano and the Titanium — and the Intel Hybrid Core Fold. I have to say that, in general, all three devices blew me away. Each delivered an outstanding digital experience packed into a sleek, intelligent design. In the end, each device made me think even more about how we work today — and tech’s role in the future of work.

Ultimately, while exploring the three Lenovo devices, my own goal was to test all three, then pick the one that best met my requirements. In the end, my choice surprised even me. The bigger surprise? How each of these B2B options presented themselves as viable business solutions for today’s workplace.

Day 1: The ThinkPad X1 Fold   

I’ve been in the tech space for long enough that I don’t look for novelties in my hardware. Instead, I look for sturdiness and dependability. But I was certainly excited to have a day with the first foldable display PC, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold. Novel, to be sure, but the unit is also remarkably — maybe even surprisingly — sturdy.

First Impressions

Upon starting my day, I immediately noticed the Fold has a work from anywhere feel. Running on Intel Core processors with hybrid technology, it seemed compact but very powerful. The Fold’s brilliant 13.3-inch 2K Flexible OLED display also caught my eye.

While this device felt like a hardcover book in my hand, it acted like a rocket, with very fast connectivity no matter where I was – best on its Wi-Fi 6 and 5G-ready support. The sound delivered from its Dolby Atmos system was far more than I’d expect from such a small package. During the series of hectic video calls that came next, the four microphones certainly helped.

As my morning progressed, I noticed both the wirelessly chargeable keyboard and the stylus pen attach to the Fold. Because I didn’t need to backtrack and figure out where I last left them, I found this very helpful.

Intelligent Design

In the afternoon, while convening with my team on some complicated projects, the split-screen functionality became a huge plus. It was easy to be on a call and look at documents on the bottom in landscape format. Apparently, I was multitasking more seamlessly than usual because a colleague asked about the tech in use during the meeting. The stylus also made it extremely easy to express ideas visually, something we too often lose when remote working. It added a level of creativity that we all found inspiring — and energizing. Within a short while, I felt like I’d picked up a new way to work. I love technology that triggers positive new behaviors — that’s the essence of intelligent design.

Thinkpad X1 Fold: A Game-Changer

After a dinner meeting, I took another research dive. Again, the machine seemed to make the work as easy as possible, intuitively. As I moved from room to room, portability was again a plus. To my pleasant surprise, so was the all-day battery — which really was all day. Hours into a day of super high use — conference calls, research, streaming and writing — the battery was still going strong.

As I entered the evening hours, I discovered an after-work bonus: Reading an e-Book on the Fold really does feel like reading a hardcover book! That’s a remarkable sense of evolution — recreating the feeling of reading to its original form, but in digital format. If it hadn’t already, the Fold completely hooked me now.

Day 2: The ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga

Full disclosure: I love yoga. I’m all about flexibility in any form, and this premium convertible laptop was a joy to use. I’ll start with its 360-degree rotating hinge, which enabled me to turn the laptop into an easel, a tent, or a tablet. It just so happened that Day 2 was a very intense, stay-at-home day of reviewing documents and research, back-to-back video calls, and serious ideation sessions with my team. To get through that day, I needed equal amounts of form and function.

First Impressions

In many ways, this laptop feels familiar: It’s that dignified titanium gray that says it’s all business. But it’s also quite sleek in a way that promises versatility and power. It’s one of the thinnest laptops I’ve held yet, but its features give it substance. The 13.5” 3:2 screen is a neat feature: The taller, tablet-format height means you don’t have to scroll constantly. As I enjoyed a green tea, I took comfort in knowing the Yoga is spill-resistant and rated military grade. I set the Yoga up in tent mode — which quickly became the preferred position.

Speed and Security

For anyone looking for something powerful and fast, this fits the bill; it’s a speedy machine, to be sure. The Intel® Evo™ vPro® platform is impressive — it boots up lightning fast with superb connectivity and offers an incredible array of choices and compatibilities. The touchpad was super responsive and intuitive, a welcome alternative to using a mouse. I grabbed the pen and joined my team for a super cool brainstorming session, making the whiteboard one of my favorite features.

The security system — Lenovo ThinkShield — felt outstanding and well-thought-out. The platform has features designed right into the hardware to protect against any attacks — including a thumb-print security feature.

Overall, the Titanium also has a whole range of hardware, software, and services to keep business secure. For those of us working on sensitive materials, traveling, or working from anywhere, these are vital features.

Performance

Like the Fold, the battery life on the Titanium is fantastic. I barely stopped working and never had to worry about racing to plug it in. All in all, the Titanium felt like a turbo-charged combination of business-, IT- and creativity-oriented features. And the Dolby Atmos Speaker System and Dolby Vision were a great reward at the end of the day — with vibrant colors and sound for games and movies. We chilled out on the sofa and watched a great film. It felt like we were in a mini-movie theater.

Day 3: ThinkPad X1 Nano

By the time I switched to the Nano on the last day, the ThinkPad X1 line had me talking about these devices with friends. Then I got my hands on this sylph of a laptop (it comes in at two pounds or 907g — the lightest of the ThinkPad line) and I was even more impressed. On a day of comings and goings, I could slip it into my bag without feeling any weight. I loved the portability.

First Impressions

Like the Titanium Yoga, the Nano is phenomenally functional. In terms of the operating tools offered by the Intel® Evo™ vPro® platform, it’s a heavyweight. Lenovo engineered the 13” screen for maximum scrolling and eye space: the display has a 16:10 ratio and an attractively narrow bezel, so you can see more at one time and don’t have to scroll. This feature was perfect for a day when I had to check various materials as they came in and discern what was needed quickly.

Features Galore (Including Human Presence Detection)

On Day 3, I ran from my home office to the car to my office in town — and then made four different stops on the way back. So throughout the day, I appreciated how the Nano’s HPD (Human Presence Detection) enabled me to jump back on. With instant responsiveness that works in conjunction with its camera, HPD scans to see if people are present. When the laptop owner approaches, the Nano wakes up.

Another plus: The Nano has Rapid Charge, meaning when I did finally run down the battery after some very heavy-duty streaming, it didn’t take long to be back in business.

The most surprising aspect of this machine, though? It is so light; according to Lenovo, the most lightweight laptop ever made. In that way, the Nano felt very much like the future. There is no doubt: This would be an excellent laptop for staying agile and productive no matter where you are.

For Me: The Fold, Titanium, or Nano?

So what’s the verdict? Which Lenovo Thinkpad X1 best met my needs?

I appreciate the power and solid feel of the Nano and the Titanium. And the multifunctional ease of the Evo platform thoroughly impressed me. And yet, I found myself gravitating towards the ThinkPad X1 Fold. I loved the foldable display, which broke me out of the flat keyboard and vertical screen configuration just when I needed it the most. Granted, the day I used it was the most collaborative day of all. But when it came to brainwork, I found myself innovating and reacting faster with the split-screen. All in all, the Fold made me think of just how much I’ve conformed the work I do to the tools I’ve had at hand — not the other way around.

For me, the Fold felt right.

For HR and Recruiting Teams

If I were advising an HR or recruiting team on the best equipment for how we’re working now, though?

I’d likely recommend the entire Lenovo ThinkPad X1 line. Each has tremendous merits; each pushed the envelope on portable PCs in a new way. It was a blast to use each device. And that speaks to a new culture in which the match between people and technology is more important than ever.

During the pandemic, we saw a rise in the number of frustrated employees; disengagement caused by technical problems grew dramatically. As HR facilitates the further transition to remote, physical, and blended workforces, we must level the playing field. In many cases, that means providing — or suggesting the purchase of — the technology that best matches the needs of our WFA people.

These three days convinced me: the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 line should be at the top of the list for any company considering upgrading their devices.

Learn more about these Lenovo ThinkPad devices here.

 

Photo by Visually Us

5 Best Tactics for Optimizing Remote Team Collaboration

Many companies have been doing remote work for some time now. But most haven’t yet optimized remote team collaboration.

Many businesses will remember 2020 as the year that forced them to go remote. And the reality is: Some have adapted more quickly than others.

While many managers feared the switch, citing fears over lost productivity, others embraced remote team collaboration. They recognized the trend that had been boiling under the surface for quite some time. In fact, what 2020 did was accelerate the ongoing changes already happening in the workplace.

The Workplace is Changing (And Has Been For a While)

As we look towards the post-coronavirus environment, we are likely to see more businesses adopt new ways of working. Those new methods will leave them better-suited to foster remote team collaboration. Those methods include management models based on trust, transparency, and more autonomy; digitization of all work; next-generation online tools for team communication, and; work management (more about this below).

For a long time, many have associated remote work with startups and tech companies. Indeed, our company Digicoop has operated as remote-first since our humble beginnings in 2015. While we do not expect more traditionally-structured companies to adopt a fully remote model – a hybrid one is more likely – we believe that businesses of all sizes can benefit from a more flexible environment.

Tried-and-Tested Tactics for Remote Team Collaboration

Whether you work with fully remote teams or your current model is a mixture of home and office working, there are five remote team collaboration tactics worthy of emulation. At Kantree, we started implementing these long before the pandemic began; we hope they will come in handy for your organization going forward.

1. Embrace a New Management Mindset, Company-wide

The changing, more distributed workplace requires an environment where employees take control of their processes. In other words: More trust and less micromanagement. This transition starts with the buy-in of everyone in the organization.

Within our team, which operates as a worker cooperative, we derive our approach from co-op values: Team collaboration, shared responsibility, self-management, accountability, and flexibility in terms of when and where you work.

When you hire the right people and trust them with such a high level of autonomy, teams will feel more invested in their work. They will produce better outcomes, allowing businesses to take full advantage of their skills and stay competitive.

2. Improve Communication with Synchronous & Asynchronous Tools

Once everyone gets used to operating remotely, the next crucial step in digital transformation and improving remote team communication is providing the right mix of digital tools. Without them, teams will be stuck with clunky spreadsheets, post-it notes, email overload, and the real productivity killers: excessive meetings.

What is the right mix? First, asynchronous tools (e.g., email or discussion boards) where team communication doesn’t occur simultaneously. Second, synchronous tools for real-time communication (instant messengers like Slack or Mattermost and video tools such as Zoom, Google Meet, or MS Teams). Lastly, flexible project management and work collaboration platforms like Kantree. These platforms enable teams to keep a pulse on their work from anywhere and at any time.

3. Digitize Work; Make it Accessible from Anywhere

Online work management platforms perform many functions. For instance, these platforms serve as project HQ for the whole distributed team: Remote, in the office, and on the go.

Kantree, for example, can replace spreadsheets and to-do lists. The platform also helps reduce email clutter with built-in tagging and project assignee features. And Kantree provides an overview of the work at hand (displayed as a kanban board, spreadsheet, timeline, calendar, or interactive checklist). Just as important for some, platforms like Kantree allow sharing chosen information with ‘external’ people, such as clients or other departments, limiting the need for conference calls. Teams can start any project instantly with workflow templates, from sales to IT to HR.

It’s important to remember that to ensure successful remote team collaboration, all work needs to be digitized, and everyone needs to be on board. Providing clear guidelines and training sessions at all levels while fostering a learning-oriented culture will help avoid frustration and reverting to old methods.

4. Encourage Self-Management and Accountability

Self-management in the remote business setting means two things: First, you are trusted by management to do your job and do it well, and; second, you trust yourself to organize your work in such a way as to stay productive and motivated.

In a company culture that encourages self-management, the project is the driving force and becomes “the boss.” The idea is that relaxing control-based management models will lead to a more engaged and content workforce, positively affecting the company’s bottom line and further growth.

5. Last But Not Least: Focus More on Employee Well-Being

More people than ever now work remotely (43% in the United States alone). That means many are still going through a period of adjustment. For some, it’s not an easy switch. This is especially true if you don’t have a quiet home office or need to juggle working remotely with homeschooling children.

Therefore, managers and teams must be empathetic and communicate openly about remote work challenges. Encouraging flexible hours, physical exercise, good nutritional habits (including proper lunch and work breaks) can help maintain employee well-being. Of course, this also helps keep employees engaged and performing at their best.

It’s Time to Do Remote Right

Digital transformation and fostering successful remote team collaboration don’t happen overnight. And, for many organizations, it may prove to be a daunting and time-consuming task. But with the right management approach, long-term strategy, and digital tools, building an effective remote team more than possible and is quickly done.

 

This post is sponsored by Kantree.

 

William Daigneault

5 Post-COVID Global Work Trends in HR and Hiring

Working from home. Schooling from home. Social distancing. New workplace norms. New consumerism rules. Mask mandates. It’s difficult to identify one aspect of personal life or society left untouched by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Not surprisingly, the global workforce — including hiring after COVID-19 — will also look different for the foreseeable future. Here are five global work trends that will most affect human resources professionals.

1. Some Previously On-Site Employees Will Work Remotely Forever

Working from home was already a widely accepted option before COVID-19 happened, but some employers still decided not to offer the possibility. Once remote work became the safest arrangement for many companies during the pandemic, some decision-makers realized that people stay productive at home, and many get even more done.

Netflix, Microsoft, Shopify and Fujitsu are among the companies where people will be working remotely for the long term. Some businesses provide it as a permanent possibility. Gartner’s April 2020 survey found that 74% of leaders would move at least 5% of their workforces to a remote working model for good post-COVID-19.

2. Companies Will Invest More in Reskilling Employees

Even before the pandemic affected the world, advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) necessitated that some employees learn new skills soon to stay competitive. Analysts say it’s even more vital now that employers double down on their educational efforts related to reskilling. If they do, they’ll be better prepared for the technological changes on the horizon, plus be more resilient during future significant disruptions.

This trend may slow, but not stop, hiring after COVID-19. Some reskilling efforts will teach workers new roles adjacent to their original ones. One example from a company operating in West Africa during the Ebola crisis was that truck drivers learned to operate excavators. However, reskilling also involves getting acquainted with digital activities. Doctors may need to become more comfortable with using tools to conduct remote visits, for instance.

3. Efforts to Hire International Workers May Need Longer Timelines

Companies that want to hire international workers have several options. One commonly selected choice due to convenience is to work with an employer of record. That entity handles all payroll, taxes and benefits necessities. That approach could mean a company could hire a top-choice candidate in a matter of days. However, hiring after COVID-19 could become more complex due to new rules and delays associated with aspects like visa processing.

For example, authorities in Ireland ruled that medical-related employment permits took precedence during the pandemic. They warned that applicants for all other types should expect delays — even if they previously submitted their documentation before the decision occurred. The United States disallowed people to arrive on certain permissions through at least the end of 2020. These changes mean employers must show more patience when hiring global workers.

4. Employers Will Stop Requiring Such Rigid Schedules

One of the most anticipated global work trends: Besides the additional flexibility that comes with working remotely instead of on-site, employees can likely expect more opportunities to participate in four-day workweeks. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently joined people backing shorter workweeks for numerous reasons. She believes the switch would promote domestic tourism in her country.

Others supporting the idea point out that it would help people have a better work-life balance. When Microsoft workers in Japan participated in a four-day workweek trial, their productivity increased by 40%, and employees earned the same amount. COVID-19 has made managers think about work differently. That means many will feel more open to the idea of breaking schedule norms.

5. Creative Motivation of Remote Employees

Helping remote employees feel like part of the team and upbeat despite possibly working in total solitude meant employers had to show appreciation differently. While an on-site worker might have their promotion celebrated with a cake in the break room, remote employees might receive something in the mail and relish in their achievement alone. Showing gratitude now requires more creativity due to so many people working from home.

One company had a virtual wine and cheese tasting where participants had supplies sent to their homes. Another tried a summer-picnic-in-a-box concept after canceling its annual in-person event due to COVID-19. All employees received mailed goodies, including a blanket, water bottle, snacks and sunscreen. This trend could have long-lasting effects, especially as managers realize they can give appreciation in more ways than they previously thought.

Global Work Trends: Post COVID-19 Will Be Different

Our ongoing global health threat has forced us all to become more agile; more open to doing things differently while abiding by new norms to stay safe. And these five global work trends show how the novel coronavirus may have forever reshaped how companies hire employees. They also demonstrate how we’ll need to create appealing work arrangements for those we hire.

Perhaps there is, however, and upside. After all, moving forward it is highly likely people worldwide will enjoy improved, less restrictive workplace opportunities. If so, those outcomes would arguably be some of the few positives associated with the pandemic.

 

Jon Tyson

4 Proven Tips to Improve Performance of Your Remote Team

Remote work, and working within a remote team, is now a part of the new normal—but not everyone was prepared to make that transition. This change happened suddenly, forcing employees and managers alike to plot a route across this new, and sometimes uncomfortable, reality. At the same time, we had to learn how to balance personal concerns—ranging from poor bandwidth to home-schooling while working—while dealing with anxieties about a global health emergency.

According to a 2020 research study published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), close to 71% of organizations are struggling to adapt to remote work. Communication and productivity were reported to be the areas of greatest concern. In addition, 65% of the respondents cited maintaining employee morale as a top challenge.

Without intentional efforts to create innovative solutions from both employees and management, remote work—especially during these tense, uncertain times—can leave staff feeling isolated, distracted, unmotivated and stressed.

Here are four proven productivity tips businesses can leverage to improve the overall performance and morale of their remote team:

1) Leverage Technological Solutions 

With entire teams working remotely, technologies must be a consideration. In a recent survey conducted by FlexJobs, 54% of HR leaders indicated that poor technology and/or infrastructure is the biggest barrier to effective remote working in their organization.

Web-based applications such as Trello can provide you with a brief overview of the tasks assigned to your team at a single glance. Other important features such as client contacts and reminders are automatically organized and embedded so your remote workers always know what’s going on and what they should be doing next. Since every member on your team has access to everything happening on the work front in Trello, they are better coordinated, which leads to increased productivity.

Another technological solution that can help your company in more ways than one while working remotely is transcription. This is especially true if your business utilizes huge troves of data on a regular basis. 

Audio-to-text transcription can help you convert unstructured data into a structured format, which can help you better manage your resources. By converting your virtual meetings and client calls to written text, you can make more informed decisions and better comprehend their requirements. This can also significantly reduce stress among your employees.

Other technological solutions that can help businesses boost employee productivity include: time tracking and to-do tools such as DeskTime and Nozbe and storage platforms such as Dropbox.

2) Promote Flexibility within the Organization

Under current circumstances, rather than taking a rigid stance, your company’s policies need to be more flexible in manner. Try leaning toward a flexible work environment and trusting your employees as opposed to constantly monitoring and measuring results. 

Also, make sure the selected approaches and tools align well with your employees’ strengths. It also helps toreate efficient workflows where humans and technology can work hand-in-hand to deliver desired results. For example, Slack can serve as home for the virtual water-cooler conversations that no longer happen within the office. 

Some company cultures, of course, value structure in equal doses with flexibility. So  to provide security through structure, schedule regular team meetings. For example, consider a low-key, non-intrusive Zoom meeting on the same day and time every week. Not only will this keep your employees from feeling isolated and unproductive, it will likely encourage the building of trust and a sense of community.

3) Positively Over-Communicate with Your Remote Team

Communication, as many leaders have already discovered, is one of the most critical aspects of remote work. Managers need to over-communicate to make sure their remote teams have all the information they’re possibly going to need to be effective at their jobs. The more positive communication received, the less likely the employee is to feel disconnected.

Each communication should be relevant, frequent, and consistent. Whenever possible, it should be tailored to the needs of each employee. Since everyone’s candor radar is on high alert right now, communication must be sincere and transparent.

Also, consider sharing success stories of other teams, and perhaps other companies, that find themselves in the same situation as your team. After all, crises do furnish opportunities for businesses to recognize unique stories of organizational resilience. And they give us a chance to look at how others have overcome challenges. 

Finally, give people a voice. Move from asking your remote employees “Are you safe and well?’ to “How are you connecting?” “How are you working?” “How are we responding?” Don’t just ask, listen. Then make sure the feedback loop is complete by reporting back what you’ve learned. The more you enable them to express what they are experiencing, the more productive they’ll be.

4) Encourage Employee Engagement

You want to keep your remote employees engaged. You also want to prevent them from feeling disconnected. And you need to strengthen your team by investing in low-pressure activities to promote camaraderie and friendly competition amongst them. Encourage them to tell dad jokes. Or share pictures of children or pets. The more team members know about how others on their team live, the more empathy they’ll gain. And more empathy means more engagement.

Also, consider tech solutions to help with engagement. QuizBreaker, for example, is a super fun way to keep a remote team engaged and connected. Players answer icebreaker questions and then have to guess each other’s answers in automatically generated quizzes. Admins can set up the quizzes to go out via email at set times during the week. The end result: a non-intrusive way to get people talking about something other than work.

In addition, leaderboards keep your team members aligned with your goal at all times and keep them motivated. They encourage healthy competition and improve engagement. To set up a leaderboard for your team, try Spinify. This app adds gamification to nearly every part of your team’s day. Through engagement and friendly competition, team members become more productive.

To achieve maximum productivity from each of your remote team, we must constantly innovate and create strategies that keep them motivated. And there’s no better time than now—while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to mandate work from home contributions—to create solutions that improve the performance of your team.

Karolina Grabowska

Online Performance Review: How to Evaluate Remote Employees

What is the best way to evaluate remote employees? Is an online performance review the answer?

We don’t have to tell you: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, workplace dynamics have changed drastically over the last few months. From minimal personal interaction and connection to increased reliance on collaboration tools and communication technology — the word “office” as we know it has taken a whole new meaning. 

This leaves many companies, as the year-end approaches, to wonder where this leaves performance reviews. Given the absence of in-person interactions: How do you evaluate your remote employees accurately, deliver clear feedback, and maintain trust?

Here are our thoughts…

Before you start the process, devise an employee review strategy and share it with the team. This brings consistency and improves the quality of performance review discussions. Here’s a mind map that demonstrates the importance of the employee performance review process:

employee review process mind map

Now, let’s take a look at how you can conduct productive online performance reviews and drive professional growth in the process. 

Create an Employee Review Template 

If you think you can enter an online performance review meeting and just “evaluate” your team members on the spot, you’re mistaken. Performance review season calls for preparation from both the reviewer and the reviewee. 

The first step of the preparation process is to create an employee review template. This is an effective way to document and track employee performance. It also helps you conduct a focussed review and create a level playing field for all involved. 

Where possible, make it a point to share the template with your team members during their onboarding process, letting them know how they will be evaluated. 

This quarterly performance review example has a section for achievements and areas of improvement; customize to add metrics of value to your company:

 

employee quarterly review

Having an employee review template in place lets you be better prepared for the meeting. You can collect performance data and make your notes based on the key performance indicators you’re measuring, paving the way for a more structured discussion. 

Encourage Self-assessment

Self-assessments are a good way to get employees to reflect on their goals, responsibilities, overall performance, strengths and weaknesses. 

According to a CIO article, companies with effective performance review processes use self-evaluations for two reasons: 

  • To ensure employees set aside time to evaluate their performance
  • To help managers get a sense of whether an employee has an accurate understanding of their impact in the workplace

Encouraging employees to evaluate their performance ahead of a performance review meeting keeps them more engaged in the process while letting managers get an insight into their perspective. 

This self-performance review template requires the employee to write their job description, goals achieved, areas of excellence and improvement — which helps the interviewer assess their impact on the organization while getting their side of the story.

 

online performance review example

Use a Video Conferencing Tool

Performance review discussions can be tricky at any time. The remote working environment certainly doesn’t help the situation. 

While you can’t rely on body language and facial expressions the way you could in a traditional set-up, conducting online performance reviews over video conferencing will help you create a more personal experience and facilitate transparent communication. 

Before the discussion begins, establish video conferencing etiquette guidelines and share them with your team to run an effective virtual meeting.

Provide Clear and Explicit Feedback 

Online or not, managers are expected to be specific with their performance review feedback. Avoid making vague and ambiguous comments as they only end up damaging employee morale and motivation.

Due to the lack of personal contact, this becomes all the more important in a remote environment. Be extra cautious while communicating with your employees and delivering feedback; leave no opening for miscommunication. As Harvard Business Review rightly puts it: you have to be much more explicit and verbal. Listen carefully and spend time to make sure things aren’t lost in translation.

For example, if a sales representative is struggling to fill their sales pipeline, use performance-based data examples (eg. total revenue generated, new leads, average cost per lead, etc.) to offer specific feedback so the employee gets a clear understanding of where and how they can improve. Be sure to make use of the screen-sharing option to walk through documents together and make feedback clearer. 

Another useful tactic to offer detailed feedback is by doing a SWOT analysis. This proven method lets you evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats while appreciating the positive aspects and identifying areas of improvement. This SWOT analysis template offers a clear picture of the employee’s performance while providing feedback: 

 

employee SWOT

Create a Two-way Dialogue 

It’s not enough to bombard your employees with feedback and consider your job done. An effective performance review is a two-way conversation. It’s important to use this opportunity to get feedback on your managerial skills and address any concerns your employees might have. 

Once you are done with your points of discussion, set aside time to actively listen to your employee and understand how you can empower them to perform better. 

Approaching performance reviews like a dialogue contributes to a healthier, more transparent and productive working environment

Conduct Frequent Reviews

In the future, and if you don’t already, don’t wait until the end-of-year online performance review to provide input. After all, feedback is more effective when check-ins are frequent, according to an SHRM article. Many companies are moving toward providing continuous, real-time feedback throughout the year. 

What’s more, when you’re working remotely, conducting frequent one-on-one performance reviews allows you to build relationships and open channels of communication. This lets employees get timely feedback, stay motivated, and also improve on the go. Which, of course, helps you get more done as a team

The Takeaway: Conduct Productive Online Performance Reviews

Online performance reviews need to be approached with care. 

From having a constructive review process and documentation in place — to the ability to communicate with clarity — managers, whenever possible, must cultivate a positive performance review culture. A culture that builds trust and also promotes open communication. 

 

 

#WorkTrends: Sexual Harassment In Virtual Workplaces

An ill-suited conversation. A moment of innuendo. Or a comment targeted at our gender, wardrobe choices, and even our hairstyles. Each, depending on context, are considered sexually harassing messages. And yet, especially in a remote working environment, identifying harassment often comes down to a feeling you get rather than something you can prove. You feel the other person’s behavior or comment was inappropriate. But was it sexual harassment?

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Under any circumstances, this is not an easy topic. Now, with many employees working from home, the degree of difficulty has only increased. After all, sexual harassment does not always occur face-to-face or by touch; video conferences, emails and texts, and collaboration platforms like Slack are also delivery methods.

The Uncomfortable Conversation: Sexual Harassment

I invited Sarah Beaulieu, co-founder of The Uncomfortable Conversation and author of the book Breaking the Silence Habit: A Practical Guide to Uncomfortable Conversations in the #MeToo Workplace, to join me on #WorkTrends℠. In a frank discussion, we dove into the nuances of socially distanced forms of sexual harassment. I quickly learned this is an issue Sarah deeply cares about, and has since her first discussion on the subject: “In that moment, and in the conversations that followed, I learned about the power of a single conversation.”

Sarah emphasized that work cultures are work cultures, face-to-face or not – and harassment is harassment. Regardless of our working environment, she said we need to set our own personal boundaries, and organizations must set them as well. “Individually and organizationally – collectively – we’re responsible for holding the line,” Sarah said. “When we hold that line together, and in service of our work culture, it’s less likely sexual harassment takes place.”

The Role Silence Plays

During our conversation, I was particularly struck by the role silence plays in enabling sexual harassment — and how, over time, that silence can be so damaging to workplace culture. Sarah agrees, and astutely adds: Silence is a choice – and culture is the conversations we choose to have, or not have, together.”

Yes, sexual harassment is a difficult topic. And yet I’m so glad we started this discussion. Please, listen to the entire podcast. In our time together, Sarah shares so much of herself and her work. And every word will help us start the uncomfortable – but absolutely necessary – conversations.

Find Sarah on Linkedin and Twitter.

 

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