The arrival of coronavirus has highlighted the importance of a flexible approach to performance management.A one-size-fits-all model for performance management may no longer be relevant, or certainly not relevant as it was in normal times. Many managers are now asking whether their approach to performance management training is still relevant, or if they need to substantially adapt their model to the new normal under this era of coronavirus.

Forrester Research recently conducted surveys into the impact of coronavirus on employees. The results are disturbing, especially when it comes to the potential impact on normal work environments. Fifty-three percent of respondents to the Forester survey said that they are afraid of the virus and sixty-seven percent say that the regularly stay informed about it. While forty-five percent of respondents believe that work life will be disrupted by the virus into the future, even worse is that almost thirty percent are afraid to go to work for fear of contracting the virus.

The advent of the era under coronavirus has had a dramatic impact on the structure of work. Remote working utilizing virtual tools and platforms is now the de facto standard workplace environment. Companies may be required to develop a completely new performance management training course in order to better align performance management with these new remote working practices.As with the modern approach to performance management, coaching will become more important than ever. At the same time, remote and virtual coaching skills will need to be developed by managers, and this in turn may require additional training for them.

A major part of the success of the new models for performance management training must be communication. Managers will need to be flexible enough to allow team members to adapt to their new working environments. They will also need to provide additional support in the form of coaching and mentoring. At the same time they will need to gradually move to holding employees accountable for their results. Similarly, they will need to learn what channels each employee prefers for communication. Some will prefer email, as it may be the most efficient way to communicate. Others may prefer video, while some may simply prefer phone. Each manager will need to learn the best ways of adapting their communication styles in order to facilitate this.

The most important building blocks in the more modern approaches to performance management are continuous two-way feedback, and coaching. Both of these factors will become more important than ever as employees seek to understand what now defines successful performance. Success in the old era may not remain to be seen as success in the era of remote working under coronavirus. Managers must first seek to understand and define what success looks like now, and then convey that to their employees.

Similarly, goals may now need to change drastically. The wider environment is unrecognizable to the external environment in which business strategies were originally planned. As business strategies adapt and change, so too must the performance management plans that cascade down from these strategies. Everyone’s KPIs and OKRs must be re-evaluated within this context. Are they still relevant? Do they still reflect the new strategic goals and objectives?

Finally, companies will need to ensure that they have all of the essential infrastructure on board to support employee performance. Software platforms for communication, new management training, systems to allow remote data entry so that performance data can be easily entered, tracked and analysed. All of these pieces of essential infrastructure must be fully operationalif management are to expect a high level of performance to be achieved within their organization once again.