Performance management is always a “hot topic” for employers because it is the primary mechanism through which the strategy of the organisation is translated into behaviours that affect an organisation’s most precious resource, their customers.
While the core elements of performance management– setting objectives and giving feedback – are well established and supported by a substantial body of research evidence, the specifics of how the process works have evolved to reflect changes in the work environment and the employment relationship. Well before the COVID-19 pandemic, performance management was undergoing significant change as many companies moved to a ‘no labels/ratings’ approach focused on quality conversations and talent management/development as opposed to performance ratings and performance distributions. As organisations look to reset after this crisis, they will need to carefully consider the purpose of their performance management programs and the impacts they may want them to have in a work environment that has been permanently disrupted by the crisis. Three workplace trends that have particular significance from a performance management perspective are the global adoption of hybrid working arrangements, the continued dissemination of agile working practices, and a growing recognition that work in the future will be organised around projects and skills rather than annual cycles and job roles.
Here we highlight three ways in which organisations can adapt their performance management processes in response to these changes:
Clarify the purpose of Performance Management for your organisation
For many, though not all, organisations the purpose served by performance management has already moved beyond standardizing and documenting levels of achievement towards more flexible systems supporting learning and growth of the organisation and its people. Organisations must engage with stakeholders, especially employees and their managers, to clarify and communicate the purpose and outcomes expected from performance management that fits with their business needs, their culture and leadership norms and their skills and technologies.
Encourage continuous performance discussions, integrating personal and work goals
Many companies have already reduced the time horizon for goals and set up frequent conversations about progress, performance, and development as the experience during Covid and beyond has highlighted the value of frequent dialogue between managers and hybrid workers. The content of these conversations also needs to evolve, to encompass employee personal goals around well-being and learning beyond employees’ current role – a recent Gartner poll found that 82% of employees want their organisation to treat them as people, not just employees.
Invest in training and tools for managers
Managers’ ability to provide meaningful feedback and to guide individual and team performance has always been a critical success factor for the performance management process. Managers must learn to use the process to drive performance, inspire purpose, lead with empathy, and communicate transparently with remote and distant team members. This requires a more complex and sophisticated skillset than any previous variation of performance management. Significant investment in skills will be required for all levels of management, supported by extensive use of technology-based tools.
Niall Eyre is Director of European HR, GameStop and a current student on DCU Business School’s MSc in Talent, Leadership and HR Strategy. Dr John McMackin is Assistant Professor of HRM and OB at DCU Business School and Chair of the School’s MSc in Talent, Leadership and HR Strategy.
Authors: DCU Business School current Student Niall Eyre (MSc Talent, Leadership & HR Strategies, 2022)
and Dr John McMackin Assistant Professor with the Work, Psychology and Strategy Group at DCU Business School
To provide the best experiences, we use technologies like cookies to store and/or access device information. Consenting to these technologies will allow us to process data such as browsing behavior or unique IDs on this site. Not consenting or withdrawing consent, may adversely affect certain features and functions.
Functional Always active
The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.