When assessing performance this year, should we continue treating everyone the same to get parity, or should we place more focus on people's individual circumstances given COVID lockdowns?

When moderating performance, we have traditionally used a ‘parity’ approach ie treating everyone the same.
Given all the challenges with COVID lockdowns (home schooling, child care, caring for elderly parents pulled out of aged care, struggling with living alone, living in a noisy share house etc) we are wondering whether it might be more appropriate this year to use a ‘fairness’ approach ie assessing each individual’s outputs considering what else they had to juggle to achieve these.

Has anyone else considered this, or used this kind of ‘individual’ approach to assessments in the past? Or any thoughts either way? Would love to hear any feedback?

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HI Rach, looks like you hadn’t gotten an answer on this yet. Hopefully you’ve got it figured out by now, but if not, here’s a few thoughts.

I’d recommend separating official performance evaluation from individual recognition and accommodation. As an organization, it becomes quickly subjective to add in “personal hardship” multipliers to performance metrics. It may be an innovative approach, but I would be deeply worried that it would become lopsided quickly and breed a “woe-is-me” culture.

However, how you treat employees experiencing hardship can be individualized (as long as it isn’t giving inequitable mulligans on their performance). What this looks like is having a manager have a vulnerable and understanding conversation with an underperforming and overworked employee to find flexibility and accommodations to execute their work. It means making extra effort to advertise mental health benefits, norming vacation requests, and pushing resources a little closer to the people who need it.

This balance will ensure that people are judged and measured fairly and consistently but recognizes that as a team we have different challenges.

Also, good luck convincing Finance and/or the Board and/or investors that your sales reps who aren’t hitting quotas get a pass because life is hard.

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