HR Day Exclusive: Tips to Goal Setting and Performance Management during a Pandemic

From Virtual Open Doors to collaborative setting, this International HR Day, HR leaders answered how they view goal setting and what they do to efficiently monitor performance


The Pandemic with its presence over a year has dramatically changed the modus operandi for HR systems. It has pushed organizations to adopt a behavioural and attitudinal shift in the culture and nature of operations. This proposes the need to use words like ‘agility’ and ‘flexibility not just in working styles and culture but intrinsically examine it for every operation including goal setting and performance management, essentially altering our existing corpus of knowledge on the way things are done.

Simin Askari, VP, Corporate Human Resource & Business Excellence at DS Group succinctly phrases it,

“Now, rather than building organizations that are efficient, highly aligned, and scalable – we need to build organizations that are fast, adaptive, and easy to change”

BW People asked HR leaders on building the organizations of the new normal with tips on what companies can do to improve their goal-setting agenda during the pandemic 

  1. Set clear-broken down goals

 Breaking a goliath goal into smaller bites helps alleviate the burden of a big task, especially at a time when we tackle projects at homes, separated from our colleagues. 

Simin believes “Remote working has also led to a possibility of having lower productivity due to less connect, increasing the chance of burnout as Employees have to manage both work and home needs. In such cases, Communication is the key. As leaders, we must define clear goals, with guidelines and measurements, where you could encourage several short-term goals or even long-term goals broken down into short term ones” 

 2. Repurpose Goals and Increase frequency of assessment

 With shifting goals, the need for an evolving assessment becomes paramount. A goal is only as relevant as the conditions that help define it. Nimisha Das, Director HR, Kellogg South Asia explains how employee contribution was assessed at a higher frequency in line with company-specific changes.

“The increased frequency for performance check-in allows us to factor in realistically the context in a dynamic manner. E.g. In a situation where performance is impacted on account of factors outside employee control –by COVID illness or containment, the performance parameters are adjusted accordingly. Equally, where the tailwinds on account of shopping behaviour shift to platform has been higher, we’ve also revised the targets upwards to factor in the new reality.”

  3. A Virtual Open-Door Policy

Prashant Khullar,  Senior VP HR at Maxlife Insurance talks about how the accountability and responsibility to making work easier and efficient should cascade from the Leadership. He states that the increased online communications facilitated by the pandemic help leaders set the tone for responsiveness and productivity.

 “Usually when a Townhall happens once in two months or once in three months, you have time on your side to work on some of the decisions and get back but now with frequent communication, you are duty-bound to the suggestion, and you have to make it happen in the next 15 days and let them know that it is what has happened. It is an inevitable open door where you make it happen”

   4. There never can be too many Cooks

Speaking from experience, Khullar states that Leaders sharing each other’s goal sheets and asking for inputs makes the process of goal-setting more holistic as it gives colleagues an option to collaborate and set expectations. He adds that both functional and stretch goals could be better defined this way.

As leaders gather and implement functional operational tips, a cumulative culture brews, leading to a sustained growth mindset that not only fights crises but thrives despite them. American Psychologist Carol Dweck while explaining the Growth Mindset, talks about how beliefs and mindsets can be cultivated through persistence, efforts, discovering new things and learning from mistakes. These when applied to Personnel in the context of the pandemic, breaks the pattern of settling into old habits and helps employees inherently challenge themselves to be better prepared for work-life after the pandemic.


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