What a transformative year 2020 has been. From commuting to the office to working in our homes. From face to face meetings, to zoom fatigue and the phrase we all dread… “can you hear me?”. From drinks after work, to Friday night quizzes. The pandemic and the shift to remote working, has completely changed the way we work and as a result, the way we manage performance. Realistically this impact will last and more organizations are slowly coming to realise that there is no “going back to normal” because the way we work has fundamentally changed for the better. This is the new normal, and to embrace it, we need to ensure that all the positive changes remain, and we don’t slip back to the oldways. A change in approach to performance management has had a crucial part to play in ensuring organizations keep connected, are aligned and are motivated. The Performance Management Report 2021 reveals how organizations across the world are doing performance management in a hybrid work environment and where their focus lies for the future.
We interviewed 221 participants, 121 of those were HR Directors (HRDs) and 100 were managers and employees. The people we surveyed span across a range of industries, including both public and private sector organizations, as well as multiple jurisdictions — the majority of which were in the UK, Europe, and USA. PepsiCo, Ralph Lauren, Cabinet Office (UK), BBC and American Express are some examples of the organizations that took part in this survey. This report draws on some comparisons from the results in the 2019 UK Performance Management Report. However, we asked fewer questions in the 2021 report, compared to the 2019 report. This was a deliberate choice in order to drill down into specific, more relevant questions. The questions we asked HR directors were all done through telephone interviews. Questions for managers and employees were delivered through an online survey, anonymously. The majority of questions we asked had multiple choice answers, however to add more depth to the research, we asked some open ended questions with free text answers to get more qualitative results. Context has been important for us to understand why the changes that have taken place have happened.
Our report reveals some surprising findings about the attitudes organizations have towards performance management. One thing that is clear, is that the focus in performance management has shifted to one where productivity, employee engagement and wellbeing is high on the agenda.
We have seen some positive aspirations from HR leaders where they want to focus more on productivity and wellbeing. In fact, our research also reveals that over 30% of organizations are having more frequent conversations in light of the pandemic. Over 90% of Managers and 80% of employees reveal that they believe they would benefit from more regular coaching and development conversations which is really positive.
However HRDs’ experiences don’t mesh with this. According to almost 40% of HRDs, managers don’t have the skills or training to have development conversations. We are seeing that in some organizations managers are having more conversations, but is a higher frequency of conversation enough? No it isn’t. Check-ins and developmental conversations between managers and employees need to be more meaningful and frequent. This can be achieved through coaching style conversations. However, managers cannot do that alone. HR leaders also need to give managers the support and resources so that they have the confidence to have better developmental conversations with their people.
We are also seeing major discrepancies between the use of technology. HR leaders believe that PM tech is important, yet according to managers and employees, over 50% of them are using standard office tech to manage performance. In addition to this, HRDs don’t have the data to link performance and productivity — could this be due to the lack of PM tech? Or does more need to be done about looking at the right metrics? It’s also interesting to note that when we asked HR leaders why performance management was more important in a remote environment, over 40% had negative sentiments and felt that their people were not productive. The question is though, how do you know if you don’t have the data to link performance and productivity?
We hope you find this research useful. The full report is packed with research and insight from thought leaders across the world. Kerry Wekelo, COO of Actualize Consulting, a financial services firm writes our foreword where she discusses the importance of wellbeing in performance development. We also have exclusive interviews with HR leaders from organizations like Virgin Money, Ishida Europe and Amthal Fire & Security who talk about how data and having an approach to continuous performance management has helped them adapt in light of the pandemic.
Download the full report now to find out more about how performance management thinking is changing and what challenges it brings as the world of work changes. Learn from HR leaders and experts as they share their insight on how they are supporting their people, and where their focus is for the future.