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Performance Management Trends of 2019

Performance Management Trends 2019

What does 2019 have in store for per­for­mance management?

2018 was anoth­er year of a major evo­lu­tion in per­for­mance man­age­ment and, as we pre­dict­ed in our per­for­mance man­age­ment trends of 2018 arti­cle, organ­i­sa­tions across all busi­ness sec­tors have con­tin­ued to move away from tra­di­tion­al annu­al appraisals, striv­ing for a sim­pler, more effec­tive per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem that is ongo­ing through­out the year.

As we look towards 2019, we have high­light­ed five per­for­mance man­age­ment trends that organ­i­sa­tions will be focus­ing on over the next year, based on our dis­cus­sions with indus­try ana­lysts, HR lead­ers and aca­d­e­mics, as well as our own customers.

1. Employ­ee Well­be­ing Will Become Part of Per­for­mance Discussions


Stress and anx­i­ety are debil­i­tat­ing in the work­place and, unfor­tu­nate­ly, these issues are a big­ger prob­lem than ever. One study found that a third of UK work­ers suf­fer from anx­i­ety, depres­sion or stress. The same sur­vey showed that 40% of employ­ees have either tak­en time off work or asked for their work­load to be reduced due to their men­tal health.

As Josh Bersin has stat­ed, Well­be­ing is still a big part of HR. It’s not sur­pris­ing that pro­duc­tiv­i­ty is suf­fer­ing when stress lev­els are high; employ­ees feel over­whelmed and they’re get­ting less work done. We’re los­ing approx­i­mate­ly £42 bil­lion a year because of stress at work, much of which man­i­fests itself in presenteeism.”

Detect­ing and address­ing men­tal health issues ear­ly on is increas­ing­ly key when it comes to keep­ing employ­ees per­form­ing at their best. For­ward-think­ing com­pa­nies are wak­ing up to the fact that men­tal health issues play a seri­ous role in terms of per­for­mance and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty — the issues of well­be­ing and employ­ee per­for­mance go hand in hand.

Organ­i­sa­tions such as Clydes­dale & York­shire Bank­ing Group have begun includ­ing well­be­ing ques­tions with­in their reg­u­lar man­ag­er-and-employ­ee coach­ing con­ver­sa­tions in order to ensure that poten­tial men­tal health and work­place stress issues are spot­ted and addressed ear­ly on. This is in line with rec­om­men­da­tions from Deloitte’s 2018 Glob­al Human Cap­i­tal Trends report, which empha­sis­es the need for organ­i­sa­tions to be social enter­pris­es, rather than sim­ply busi­ness enterprises.

Not only are busi­ness­es start­ing to take this seri­ous­ly, but employ­ees now have expec­ta­tions in this area and are becom­ing more vocal — we are hold­ing busi­ness­es to account when it comes to well­be­ing, and we expect them to put mea­sures in place to pro­mote healthy, clear minds.

As we approach a new decade, care for employ­ee men­tal health and well­be­ing will be one of the biggest per­for­mance man­age­ment trends to watch out for, with employ­ers putting pro­grammes in place relat­ing to finan­cial well­ness, men­tal health well­ness, mind­ful­ness and stress management.

2. Feed­back will Need to Be Sup­port­ed By Reg­u­lar Coach­ing Conversations

Over recent years, the per­for­mance man­age­ment debate has focused heav­i­ly on the impor­tance of fre­quent, real-time feed­back. How­ev­er, the quan­ti­ty of feed­back is not a sil­ver bul­let that will mag­i­cal­ly pro­duce a work­force of engaged and pro­duc­tive employ­ees. If com­pa­nies want to achieve gen­uine per­for­mance gains, fre­quent feed­back needs to be accom­pa­nied by reg­u­lar coach­ing con­ver­sa­tions, dur­ing which the man­ag­er and employ­ee step back and reflect on the feed­back that has been giv­en, using it to dis­cov­er strengths and high­light areas for devel­op­ment.

This is a well estab­lished tech­nique for sports pro­fes­sion­als at the top of their game. I was recent­ly at an event where the head of one of the British Olympic squads talked about how sched­ul­ing reg­u­lar time to pause and reflect on feed­back and recent per­for­mance had helped them achieve con­tin­u­al mar­gin­al gains that led them to win mul­ti­ple Olympic gold medals.


At work, such coach­ing con­ver­sa­tions allow an indi­vid­ual to address and devel­op in terms of per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment. The per­for­mance man­age­ment trend towards coach­ing con­ver­sa­tions and con­tin­u­ous learn­ing has been dri­ven in part by the increas­ing recog­ni­tion of the pow­er of growth mind­set and con­tin­u­ous learn­ing, some­thing that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadel­la has heav­i­ly pushed at Microsoft with resound­ing success.

3. Per­for­mance Man­age­ment will become Mean­ing­ful” and Human”

One of the major crit­i­cisms of per­for­mance appraisals or per­for­mance reviews is that they are con­trived and not authen­tic. They are too focused on box tick­ing and mea­sur­ing annu­al objec­tives and com­pe­ten­cies and don’t feel rel­e­vant to employ­ees’ day-to-day work lives.

This is chang­ing rapid­ly and the num­ber one objec­tive that HR pro­fes­sion­als are now telling us they want to achieve for their per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem is for man­agers and employ­ees to have more mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tions about per­for­mance and development.

Embed­ding a cul­ture of reg­u­lar, authen­tic per­for­mance con­ver­sa­tions is eas­i­er said than done, how­ev­er, we’ve worked with well over 100 organ­i­sa­tions over the last two years who have man­aged to achieve this. From this expe­ri­ence we’ve learned that the most suc­cess­ful organ­i­sa­tions have done 5 things:

  1. Start­ed with Why’ — empha­sised the per­son­al ben­e­fits for employ­ees and man­agers in hav­ing mean­ing­ful coach­ing conversations
  2. Used expe­ri­en­tial train­ing to pre­pare man­agers for hav­ing hon­est conversations
  3. Pro­vid­ed a clear frame­work for hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with sug­gest­ed coach­ing ques­tions and prompts
  4. Used spe­cial­ist per­for­mance man­age­ment tech­nol­o­gy to rein­force the frame­work, pro­vide vis­i­bil­i­ty, build new habits and change behav­iours (read more on this here)
  5. Cre­at­ed account­abil­i­ty and led by exam­ple from the top of the organisation

4. Per­for­mance Man­age­ment Will Focus on How to Make Employ­ees and Man­agers More Effective

Over the past few years, HR has been pri­mar­i­ly con­cerned with employ­ee engage­ment — and for good rea­son. High­ly engaged employ­ees are loy­al employ­ees who will go the extra mile to get their work done. As a result, employ­ee engage­ment tech­nol­o­gy has grown sig­nif­i­cant­ly recently.

How­ev­er, as we move into 2019, ana­lysts includ­ing Josh Bersin have pre­dict­ed that we will see a new trend — the opti­mi­sa­tion of pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and per­for­mance, on both an indi­vid­ual and team basis. In oth­er words, now that we have mea­sured engage­ment, it is time to take action and improve it with the aim of mak­ing employ­ees more productive.

Accord­ing to Gallup, the biggest fac­tor in terms of employ­ee engage­ment is an employee’s man­ag­er. With this in mind, per­for­mance man­age­ment and per­for­mance man­age­ment tech­nol­o­gy will need to focus more on sup­port­ing and empow­er­ing peo­ple man­agers to be more effec­tive, and enabling employ­ees to bring their best selves to work. This, com­bined with well­be­ing ini­tia­tives, will play a vital role in boost­ing employ­ee productivity.

5. Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence (AI) will Arrive in Per­for­mance Management

AI is already hav­ing a big impact in recruit­ment and learn­ing — there has been a sig­nif­i­cant inno­va­tion in tech with­in these areas. In 2019, atten­tion will turn to AI with­in per­for­mance man­age­ment.

For organ­i­sa­tions who have made the move to con­tin­u­ous con­ver­sa­tions and feed­back, we can start to use AI to draw out themes from large amounts of qual­i­ta­tive data being gath­ered from feed­back, goals and con­ver­sa­tions. We can then go a step fur­ther and use soft­ware to coach employ­ees and man­agers in real-time based on the feed­back being received, and per­haps even pre­dict future high per­form­ers based on pat­terns, the con­tent of feed­back that is request­ed and received, and goals being set and achieved.

At the heart of AI in HR is improved peo­ple deci­sions, and the growth of AI in HR will ulti­mate­ly pro­vide unbi­ased data that will guide deci­sions such as who to pro­mote, and offer insight into who requires addi­tion­al train­ing to enable bet­ter per­for­mance while com­bat­ing work­place bias.

All of these trends are cur­rent­ly in the ear­ly stages of devel­op­ment, but we’ll start to see them come to fruition dur­ing 2019, and the poten­tial is tru­ly exciting.

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