Performance Reviews for Virtual Assistants, Best Practices and More - Frequently Asked Questions

Performance Reviews – are they a waste of time?

The process starts with the employee reviewing their own performance as well as that of their employer

Creating a decent performance review process can be a challenge to any small business owner.  

Creating one that both staff and managers see as more than just an administrative overhead and where both can get value out of it, can be an even bigger challenge!  

Why Reinvent the Wheel? 

At the Smart VA Staffing Agency, we believe we have nailed it. And, our clients agree. A significant number of our clients have adopted our review process for all their staff. 

Employee Driven 

We start the process from the bottom up. This means the employee first completes an online questionnaire. The questionnaire is designed to gauge the employee’s perception of their performance as well as their satisfaction in their job.   

When your staff is asked first for their input, they are much more likely to feel invested in the process as a whole. That is a great way to start. 

Also, as it allows the manager to relate to and build on the employee’s perception, it drives a more honest and relevant conversation. In addition, it helps the manager to be forewarned of dissatisfaction and frustration their staff may have before they become critical.  

Whose Performance Is Being Reviewed? 

The review process should review the employer’s performance as an employer. It should not just review the employee’s performance as an employee.  

No employer wants the surprise of an employee suddenly leaving. No employer wants to invest time, energy, and dollars training an employee, only to have them up and leave.   

Providing the employee with a regular mechanism to communicate how they feel about their work and their place in the company is the best place to start a performance review process. 

The Dreaded Once a Year Review Process 

Authoritarian annual reviews are outdated and only cause frustration

The authoritarian once-a-year review was the standard “back in the day.” It was very much a top-down approach ‘you had your goals and you were reviewed’ – that was that. 

Much has changed in recent years regarding the expectations of employees. This also applies to the general understanding of what management techniques generate better performance. Empowering employees to be creative and to actively participate in improving the company’s performance is critical to success in today’s competitive markets. This does not happen in a top-down performance review process. 

Review Frequency 

1-mo, 3-mo, 6-mo, and 1-year to start with; then every six months after that. This high frequency in the first year is critical to getting the employee off to a good start. It is important, however, to continue to review regularly, once a year is just not enough. The trick is to make sure the reviews are easy, painless, and that they are not a time-consuming overhead.    

Frequent feedback can address poor performance when it happens and nip it in the bud.  The review then becomes more of a reminder and summary of what staff and managers are doing well, and where they have opportunities to improve.  

Make no mistake, competent, highly motivated staff, are one of your most important assets. Taking the time to listen to them through an employee-driven review process will benefit your business in the long term.  

Review Tips 

  • The review frequency should be included in their offer letter so that they will know what to expect from day one. 
  • Setting clear and attainable goals within frequent reviews will help to cause staff to feel accountable to them.  
  • Starting with the employee’s perspective regarding their performance can help a lot in broaching conversations about under-performance.  
  • It is often the case that given an opportunity, the employee will volunteer the fact that they are not performing well in a particular area. This makes it much easier to focus on solving the problem, rather than ratholing on whether it is a problem in the first place.
  • Staff are more inclined to achieve goals if they have a hand in molding them.  Also, while performing the tasks set out in goals, they can often see where things could be done in a more efficient or productive way.   

Remote Staff Management 

All staff at Smart VA Staffing Agency work remotely, so it is even more vital to have an effective mechanism to facilitate good communication that includes both positive, and negative, performance feedback as well as allowing the employee a way to express their feelings about the job. 

Who Doesn’t Like a Pay Increase? 

Avoid setting an expectation that salary changes are the reason for a review. Certainly, if the employee has done well the decision to award a pay increase can be made following the reviews, but it should not be a matter of course. When an employee has improved their skills, proved their worth to the company, and or started working with greater efficiency or creativity, give them a pay rise then and there. Do not wait for a formal performance review.  

The review should be seen as an opportunity to communicate. An opportunity for the employee to communicate their needs, frustrations, and what they feel they are doing well. Likewise, for the employer to do the same. 

Take a minute to visit this page to check out Smart VA Staffing Agency’s VA Review Process – it is simple, straightforward, and effective!