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How to make performance reviews less terrible – especially given the challenges of supervising remote workers

Performance reviews were always a challenge, but even more so in the age of hybrid work, when some employees are in the office more often than others.



A better way? Andersen Ross/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Few office workers seem to like performance reviews, those annual examinations of how well workers are doing their jobs. And many seem to outright hate – or fear – them.

A 2015 survey of Fortune 1000 companies found that nearly two-thirds of employees were dissatisfied with performance reviews, didn’t think they were relevant to their jobs – or both. In a separate survey conducted in 2016, a quarter of men and nearly a fifth of women reported crying as a result of a bad review. The figures were even higher for younger workers.

And that was during the much simpler pre-pandemic times, when pretty much all professional workers were in the office daily and could be assessed similarly. Things are trickier today, as some employees work entirely from home, others come to the office and still others split their time between the two. Almost 75% of U.S. companies are adopting a hybrid model, with 55% of employees saying they want to work remotely at least three days a week.

I am a professor of industrial-organizational psychology, a field that conducts scientific studies to better understand the workplace. Here are three challenges that I believe employers and their employees will face and ways to overcome them.

1. Familiarity gap

One of the biggest challenges involves the difficulty of creating a connection with your boss.

Employees who share the same physical space as their managers will have more opportunities to interact with them on a regular basis than those working remotely. This gives officegoers a leg up over peers who work remotely most or all the time.

For example, Matt comes to the office five days a week. Jake, who does the same job, makes it in only on Wednesdays. Over time, their mutual supervisor, Jill, will naturally become more familiar with Matt than she is with Jake, as Matt is available to join her for lunch, engage in a quick chat in her office or say “hi” as they pass in the hall.

The more familiar we are with other people, the more we tend to like them. And research has found that how much a manager likes you can have a significant impact on their evaluation of you.

The best way to even the playing field is by making it easier for workers to interact with their bosses when they’re working remotely. Employers can do this by scheduling short but frequent check-ins with remote workers throughout the day or providing virtual office hours when managers are available.

Another strategy is creating always-on chatrooms that all workers can use to communicate with supervisors in a similar way. To encourage more social interactions, companies can bring back the Zoom happy hours that became popular during the pandemic – though ideally in a way that make them more fulfilling.

Performance reviews can be painful.

2. Fewer observations

I teach my students that the most accurate performance ratings are obtained when reviews are based on observable behaviors rather than subjective evaluations of traits.

This is because while it is possible to define and standardize behaviors and to train raters on how to observe and rate them, traits are inherently subjective.

Take the trait “creativity.” How do you define creativity? How would you rate it, for example on a scale from “below expectations” to “exceeds expectations?”

Now imagine converting that into a behavior, such as “generates practical ideas in novel situations.” That’s something that could be reasonably and objectively assessed on a scale of never to frequently.

The problem is that observing behaviors is difficult if not impossible when employees are working remotely. One way to address this is for employers to adopt a results-based system, in which employees are evaluated based on productivity metrics such as client satisfaction, sales volume or number of units produced – criteria designed to fit the position.

Shifting the focus of performance appraisal from behaviors to results for all employees ensures that managers do not have to worry about being unable to observe their direct reports on the job. And employees get the flexibility to decide how they will complete their assigned tasks by being held accountable only for the end result. Thus, all workers are held to the same standards.

One other option that can help rate workers evenly is by applying tracking technology – though this can be controversial and problematic, for example by eroding employee privacy and creating more stress. In general, these systems track how remote workers are spending their time on their computers and phones.

But it’s vital to implement these systems right – for example, by being extremely transparent regarding what is being tracked and what data is being collected. When done right, tracking can be a useful way to more fairly evaluate certain types of employees, such as customer service reps or administrative assistants.

3. One review to rule them all

Alas, performance reviews based on results may not work for every job.

For example, evaluating a teacher based solely on student test scores may be problematic, since scores are also influenced by environmental factors such as poverty or a lack of family support. Similarly, an employee responsible for long-term strategic planning cannot immediately be evaluated based on results since it is impossible to know whether the plan will succeed before it is implemented.

The key thing here is to use only one type of review system for all employees. Evaluating employees by different standards may create fairness and even legal concerns if doing so might lead to different outcomes for groups explicitly protected from discrimination by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It is illegal to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information.

Since the evaluation helps determine who gets a raise or promotion and who might be fired, it is a particularly sensitive document. For example, imagine that a group of employees using one type of review gets more promotions than another batch that follows a different system – and that also happens to include a higher proportion of racial minorities. The organization may then face a discrimination lawsuit in which it may be required to prove that the two evaluations are equivalent.

At the end of the day, an employer should use a type of evaluation that can effectively measure any employee’s performance. If judging on results doesn’t work, an organization could try a behavior-based system but revise it so that it doesn’t favor employees working in the office. Another system is competencies reviews, the most popular type, which assess employees on competencies such as attention to detail, timeliness and quality of work.

Performance reviews will always be a drag for many workers – however vital they are to an organization’s success. By their nature, they can be excruciating, and not everyone can get a raise or promotion. But at least the reviews should be fair and not put anyone – such as those working primarily from home – at a disadvantage.

Yalcin Acikgoz does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Pablo Torre is upending the norms of sports media

Torre was with Sports Illustrated and ESPN before partnering with his friend Dan Le Batard.



Pablo Torre launched his new sports show on Sept. 5, two days before the first NFL game of the season.

Placing his show’s debut so close to the NFL opener was a pragmatic decision. ESPN, Torre’s former full-time employer, divides its work calendar to address the wave of sports coverage that begins during NFL Kickoff, and it chose the same week to have Shannon Sharpe make his debut on its flagship morning debate show ‘First Take.’

Torre’s launch was timely, but the show’s content was peculiar. The premier episode of ‘Pablo Torre Finds Out’ (PTFO) — a sports audio and video show by Meadowlark Media available on the DraftKings Network — wasn’t about football. It was an episode exposing his friend and new boss, Dan Le Batard, one of sports media’s most outspoken voices when it comes to politics, for giving a platform to Donald Trump back when Le Batard’s show was still on ESPN Radio.

The second and third episodes of PTFO — which sandwiched the NFL's season opener — actually touched on the league, but still didn’t focus on the major events shaping the start of the 2023 season. Even when the show covered Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce, it was weeks after the romance took over the NFL news cycle.

In an episode of PTFO's 'Share & Tell' with Pablo Torre, Dan Le Batard, and Mina Kimes, the trio discussed the nuances of parenting.

Pablo Torre Finds Out - YouTube

But PTFO has charted as high as third on Apple and Spotify among sports podcasts, competing with the likes of other flagship shows in the space including his boss’ ‘The Dan Le Batard Show.’

Torre has incorporated a recipe that combines the counter-intuitiveness of dodging major news with an ingredient that’s worked for Le Batard and other outlets like The Ringer with ‘The Bill Simmons Podcast’ or even ESPN with ‘The Pat McAfee Show’ — banking that fans will follow the media personality and care about what they care about.

It’s the whole premise of his show — aptly named after his interest in finding out new things.

“99.9% of sports media is reacting to the biggest story of the week, like the Cowboys won or lost. We're sort of reverse engineering the algorithm,” Torre told TheStreet. “It's going to be different from everybody else, because it's, by definition, personal and human.”

Torre has found his true peace at Meadowlark Media

Torre, who is the son of Filipino immigrants, was the first of his family born in the U.S. The idea of a career in media, particularly in sports, wasn’t on his or his parents’ minds. The endgame of his parents’ global uproot and his Harvard University degree was supposed to be for him to become a lawyer.

Pablo Torre graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 2007.

Courtesy: Pablo Torre

“I considered the LSAT to be the entire reason why my family came to this country,” Torre, who is 38 years old, said in an April episode of Le Batard’s ‘South Beach Sessions.’

But Torre said the pressure got to him and he “bombed” the LSAT. He shifted his focus to an internship with Sports Illustrated, which he turned into a full-time job as a fact checker. But his parents didn’t consider it to be a “real job."

Torre became what Le Batard jokingly described as the “ambitious, overzealous, overachieving fact checker,” which helped him build a presence as a staff writer on Sports Illustrated. He parlayed that into making on-air appearances when networks needed a representative from SI.

He moved to ESPN in 2012, first as a writer and then eventually into on-air roles such as hosting shows like ‘Highly Questionable’ and ‘ESPN Daily.’

Pablo Torre on ESPN's "Pardon The Interruption."

Courtesy: Pablo Torre

But even as his star rose, Torre’s work with SI and ESPN still came with a scent of adherence to the safer career choices that he and his parents imagined for him. These were legacy companies in sports media that, for the most part, provided a safety net in a turbulent industry.

“I’ve only felt confident in terms of job security by working for a big company,” Torre said in April. “I replaced ... law school and that trajectory that I had sketched out and studied, I replaced it with this other trajectory.”

The dependence on his career trajectory peaked when on Feb. 24, 2020, the ESPN show he hosted called ‘High Noon’ was canceled on the same day his daughter was born.

“My insecurity was born alongside my daughter,” Torre said on the podcast.

Related: ESPN doubles down on women's basketball with new deal

Torre would take over ‘ESPN Daily’ months later and find his niche again in the company.

Then this past February, two months before Torre’s ESPN contract expired, Le Batard, Skipper, and Meadowlark CEO Bimal Kapadia gave Torre an offer that would allow him to discover his genuine desire.

“[They] approached me and said, ‘What do you want to do? Here’s a blank piece of paper — design the show you want to make,’” Torre told TheStreet. “I just felt a degree of autonomy and responsibility and trust that I had never been offered so bluntly before … It was also exactly what I had been waiting for my whole life. … I realized if someone else got this opportunity to make something in their own image from scratch, I would be jealous of that person. And so why aren't I sprinting towards this opportunity? And so in the end, I did.”

‘Pablo Torre Finds Out’ is, for better or worse, made in his image

The artwork for 'Pablo Torre Finds Out' is a funky representation of the show's tone.

Courtesy: Pablo Torre

In March, months before PTFO was born, Torre began to blatantly advertise his Substack website “www.Pablo.Show” whenever he was on ESPN. The deliberate promotion towed the line between charming and even brilliant versus obnoxious and desperate.

But in his promotion, Torre was already showcasing the tone of his in utero show — an oxymoron of high-level journalism meets psychedelic oddball. The description to his show even reads as, “Award-winning journalist/gasbag Pablo Torre is finally free to f*** around.”

PTFO has three types of shows every week: a deep dive feature, an interview, and ‘Share & Tell’ with people he describes as “friends of the show.” In just a month since PTFO’s premiere, the show has already done a story about transgender athletes in women’s sports, a mysterious failed bidder for the NFL’s Washington Commanders, and a reveal of the alleged trash talk that led to Draymond Green punching Jordan Poole before the 2022-23 NBA season — topics that showcase why Torre won journalism awards while at Harvard and Sports Illustrated.

Related: Transgender high school athlete speaks out in honest interview

Other episodes are whimsical, like uncovering the mystery behind the U.S. Open tennis court with a weed stench or the story of the man who fought Mark Zuckerberg in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Or even having humanizing conversations with no relation to sports like when he spoke about being a parent with Le Batard and their friend and ESPN reporter Mina Kimes.

There’s a contrast between PTFO and Torre’s 700+ episodes at ‘ESPN Daily.’ His past work featured a blend of current news and feature stories, but he said the grind of the daily show took a physical and mental toll on him.

“I took such great pride in ‘ESPN Daily,’ but I always felt like ‘ESPN Daily’ was a sort of case study in how to make a really good show under some absurd constraints, such as you need to make a show every day, you need to respond to the news of that week, and sometimes there are stories that just are going to demand coverage that you're not actually interested in,” Torre said.

Many of his ideas for PTFO have come from the notes app on his phone where he’s consistently, but privately, placed many of his ideas over the years. And he’s finally let them out now because he’s been given the freedom to — and he’s trusting that his curiosity is what allows him to find his place in the saturated sports content machine.

Related: Ex-ESPN host Pablo Torre gets in a strange feud with Vivek Ramaswamy

“I was like, ‘What if I could build an audio and video magazine in which I find stories spurred on by my own curiosity that are not something that anybody else is doing that week?' And I find my way in that way,” Torre said.

Torre received a small stake in Meadowlark Media, which likely made the move to a start-up more palatable. He’s also been granted the flexibility to work with other media outlets — a trend many sports media personalities like Sharpe or Shams Charania have embraced in recent years. He consistently appears on ESPN’s ‘Around The Horn’ and ‘Pardon The Interruption.' In September, he started appearing on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe.’

The range of his jobs, which also includes seeding the culture of his new team while balancing fatherhood, has separated this stage of his life from any other. And he said he’s having more fun than he ever has had in his career.

“I should just say that I have no idea what I'm doing — you caught me at a time of great optimism,” Torre said. “I just want to make clear that I, in no way, am somebody who has the secret. I just know that I have a better sense now, and it's more clear than ever of what I’m interested in. And that's all I'm really following.”

It’s no surprise then, that despite all the success, his mom still asks him to clarify his job status.

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Carnival Cruise Line enforces a key main dining room rule

Cruisers love to debate every aspect of eating in the main dining room, but Carnival has drawn a line in the sand on one key issue.



For most people on a Carnival, Royal Caribbean, MSC, or Norwegian  (NCLH) - Get Free Report cruise the main dining room serves as a gathering and reset point. 

During the day families and friends may go off in different directions, but on most nights they gather in the main dining room for a multicourse dinner experience that generally takes about 90 minutes.

Cruise lines have more small tables, so in many cases you're not sitting with strangers as often as you would have been in the past, but dinners in the main dining room remain an important part of cruising. 

Dinner brings everyone on a trip together and creates shared memories even when days are spent in different places.

Related: Carnival Cruise Line CEO openly talks about adding unpopular fee

The main dining room , of course, is not the only option. You can opt for specialty dining or the buffet, or you can just grab a pizza. Still, with the capacity to serve the entire ship across multiple seatings, the main dining room dinners remain a crucial part of the cruise experience on Carnival, Royal Caribbean (RCL) - Get Free Report, MSC, and Norwegian sailings.

Cruisers, of course, love to debate any changes and rules that are enforced or not enforced in the main dining room. Thousands of social-media posts argue how and whether each cruise line enforces its dress code, with some people wanting to wear shorts, hats or flip-flops while others lament that passengers no longer wear tuxedos on formal nights.

Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) - Get Free Report Brand Ambassador John Heald recently touched off a debate, however, when he outlined on his Facebook page one rule that Carnival does enforce.

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Dinner in a cruise ship main dining room is an elaborate affair.

Image source: Nora Tam/South China Morning Post via Getty

Don't be late for your Carnival main dining room time

Heald spends most days answering questions from Carnival's customers. Sometimes he shares notes that have been sent to him and solicits public response.

BOOK YOUR CRUISE NOW: Plan a dream cruise vacation at the best possible price.

In this case, he shared what happened to one family when it arrived 40 minutes late to its designated meal time. 

On our recent Pride cruise from Rome, we had a table of 10. After long days in port, we did not always make it on time for early seating and came into the main dining room at intervals. This really threw our servers off and therefore, OUR service suffered. One evening, we were all 40 minutes late That is all.. The restaurant manager told us we had to eat at the buffet or come back to see if there was a table available at the late seating.

Carnival, like most cruise lines, offers early and late seatings as well as "anytime" dining options. People who have a specific seating will eat at the same table every night, while people with flexible time seating will eat in a different dining room.

The family that arrived late shared more info with Heald.

That is not acceptable with teenagers. If Carnival puts a cruise together with long stays in ports then expect many to be late. We were punished for being 30 mins late. Unacceptable !!! You are monsters!

Carnival's brand ambassador tried to be understanding but also backed the main dining room management's decision.

I also understand as a parent myself that getting a family ready for dinner on time is not easy, especially after a long day in port. However, the waiter has not just this table to serve but others and moving back to serving appetisers while everyone else is about to be served their main course really can cause a massive dollop of stress for the waiter. If perhaps they had Your Time Dinning or late seating it might have been manageable but early seating, nope, I support what the Maitre D did by asking them to use the Lido or come back later for a table

Heald also posted a poll asking his followers to vote on whether directing guests who were 40 minutes late to their seating to the buffet was a correct choice. 

His followers overwhelmingly agreed with the cruise line: 97% agreed with the decision and 3% said the cruise line should have tried to accommodate the family. 

SAVE MONEY ON YOUR CRUISE: Let our travel experts get you booked and sailing.

A comment from Pam Miller Downey seemed to illustrate how most people felt about the issue.

"They were late...that means not on time..that means they eat somewhere else. Most people who are 40 minutes late wouldn't even dream of going to the MDR. They would automatially go to Lido or one of the other eateries," she wrote.

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Schedule for Week of October 15, 2023

The key economic reports this week are September Retail Sales, Housing Starts and Existing Home sales.

For manufacturing, September Industrial Production, and the October New York and Philly Fed surveys will be released this week.

—– Monday, Octo…



The key economic reports this week are September Retail Sales, Housing Starts and Existing Home sales.

For manufacturing, September Industrial Production, and the October New York and Philly Fed surveys will be released this week.

----- Monday, October 16th -----

8:30 AM ET: The New York Fed Empire State manufacturing survey for October. The consensus is for a reading of -1.5, down from 1.9.

----- Tuesday, October 17th -----

8:30 AM ET: Retail sales for September will be released.  The consensus is for a 0.2% increase in retail sales.

This graph shows retail sales since 1992. This is monthly retail sales and food service, seasonally adjusted (total and ex-gasoline).

Industrial Production9:15 AM: The Fed will release Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization for September.

This graph shows industrial production since 1967.

The consensus is for a 0.1% increase in Industrial Production, and for Capacity Utilization to decrease to 79.6%.

10:00 AM: The October NAHB homebuilder survey. The consensus is for a reading of 44, down from 45 in September. Any number below 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as poor than good.

----- Wednesday, October 18th -----

7:00 AM ET: The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release the results for the mortgage purchase applications index.

Multi Housing Starts and Single Family Housing Starts8:30 AM: Housing Starts for September.

This graph shows single and multi-family housing starts since 1968.

The consensus is for 1.405 million SAAR, up from 1.283 million SAAR.

During the day: The AIA/Deltek's Architecture Billings Index for September (a leading indicator for commercial real estate).

2:00 PM: the Federal Reserve Beige Book, an informal review by the Federal Reserve Banks of current economic conditions in their Districts.

----- Thursday, October 19th -----

8:30 AM: The initial weekly unemployment claims report will be released. The consensus is for 210 thousand initial claims, up from 209 thousand last week.

8:30 AM: the Philly Fed manufacturing survey for October. The consensus is for a reading of -6.8, up from -13.5.

Existing Home Sales10:00 AM: Existing Home Sales for September from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The consensus is for 3.94 million SAAR, down from 4.04 million in August.

The graph shows existing home sales from 1994 through the report last month.

12:00 PM: Discussion, Fed Chair Jerome Powell, Economic Outlook, At the Economic Club of New York (ECNY) Luncheon, New York, New York

----- Friday, October 20th -----

10:00 AM: State Employment and Unemployment (Monthly) for September 2023

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