Skip to Main Content

How To Conduct Better Remote Performance Reviews

Written by: Shital Patel

What emotionally intelligent managers are doing right during employee reviews

The employee performance review is the once-a-year activity that managers and employees alike have come to dread. Managers often have to put aside weeks of work to gather data and engage in uncomfortable conversations. For the employee, this annual tradition is reminiscent of getting a school report card and the anxiety that goes with it.

However, if done right, the performance review can be positive and productive in motivating your employees. And with remote work becoming the norm, it’s the perfect time to re-assess how you’re doing reviews.

I talked to managers at net2phone Canada to see what they do to conduct better, more emotionally attuned employee performance evaluations while working remotely.


Whether your organization has gone to full-time remote work, a globally dispersed workforce, or a hybrid work arrangement, you will likely have to do some annual reviews remotely, which comes with its own set of differences and challenges.

  • You Can’t Base Feedback On What You See- Without sharing the same office space, you won’t be able to easily observe things like employee engagement or how they get along with others.

  • Time Zone Differences - With dispersed teams, you need to be more flexible and mindful about everyone's different work hours.

  • The change in work styles - For millions of people, the transition to working from home was sudden and may still affect their physical and emotional well-being.

  • Lack of Tools- Without the proper collaboration and communication tools, it’s difficult to track performance metrics and what employees are working on.

Here are some ways managers overcome the challenges of remote evaluations and improve the overall process.


Fifty-five percent of communication is nonverbal, so skip the phone call and choose a video conferencing tool. Maybe your employee is visibly stressed about a particular topic or appears exhausted; you’ll never pick up on these cues with audio.

How to do it right:

Check your tech - Login to the meeting before and troubleshoot any issues. The last thing you want is blurry images and “can you hear me now?” to be the focus of your call. Make sure you have a strong internet connection, you’re well lit, the camera is at eye level, and no one will walk into your home office.

Stay Present - We’ve all been multitasking during video conferences, but this definitely isn’t the meeting for that. Really listen to what your employee is telling you and watch their body language. Avoid looking at other screens, which may signal that you aren't interested in the conversation, even if you are!

Share your screen with data and references - Use screen sharing to show relevant documents to support your discussion and ensure that you’re both on the same page. Don’t over-rely on this method because you will still want to see each other face to face as much as possible.


While some people love full-time remote work, others may still struggle with distractions at home, juggling child care, or isolation. You’re dealing with people, so show them compassion and help them overcome these challenges. In fact, research shows that empathy in leadership leads to greater innovation, engagement, retention, and inclusivity!

How to do it right:

Ask and Listen: It’s essential to understand what’s blocking and motivating your employees. Simply ask, and then truly listen. Pause and give your employee the space to express their thoughts and concerns.

Consider your role in their performance - Suppose you have an employee who shows poor performance while remote but was a star in the office. It may be because they no longer get the immediate feedback they thrived on. This can signal that you need to be more available or implement better collaboration tools.

Related: 3 Winning Tips for Remote Cross Team Collaboration

Be open about your own experience: Many managers have faced similar challenges or are facing them right now, such as difficulties adapting to remote work. It’s a good idea to share what you are experiencing with your team as a way to build greater trust.

Stay focused on the goal: The purpose of this exercise is to guide and coach your employees, give constructive feedback, and identify appropriate goals.


Rather than wait an entire year, it’s way more effective for your employees to receive feedback in real-time when it’s relevant and timely. If you incorporate continuous feedback, the year-end chat will be less stressful, and your team will be able to course-correct as they go.

How to do it right:

Schedule Regular & Frequent Video Calls: Every week, my manager and I have a recurring 1:1 call using our company’s video conferencing tool Huddle. The chats give me a chance to talk about recent wins, challenges and help me figure out goals and areas of improvement.

Set and Adapt Goals Quarterly: Especially during Covid, where things keep changing, setting a goal at the beginning of the year and evaluating 12 months later may not always work.

Get specific with examples and suggestions - It’s all about constructive feedback. “Your presentation is missing information” isn’t very helpful. Instead, “your presentation is missing key information on slide five about our new human resources policies, which you’ll find in the portal” is specific and helpful.

Related: The Secret to Nailing your Next Video Presentation


Adapt each performance review to your employees' specific needs and skill sets as there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Whatever method you undertake, make sure to use the right tools, bring your empathy A-game and make feedback part of your regular activities.

From leveraging cloud-based technologies to effective communication, learn more about managing a remote team. Download the Remote Working Handbook and prepare you and your team for remote work success!

About the Author

Shital Patel | Digital Marketing & Content Specialist

Adventure seeking Shital loves bright colors, wildlife and all things travel. She’s constantly forgetting to water her growing collection of plants, but always on top of finding the best stories about our ever-changing industry. Whether it’s VoIP, business, communication or tech, she strives to give readers the most helpful information. Being passionate about communication, Shital appreciates how net2phone Canada is helping businesses across the country better connect with their customers.