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The Performance Management Report 2021: Executive summary

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Exec­u­tive Summary

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. 

The research

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.

The find­ings

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.

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