What Can We Learn From the 2019 UK Performance Management Report?

Clear Review has recently published its “UK Performance Management Report” for 2019 and it provides interesting reading for anyone looking to stay up to date on current thinking around performance management. The research is a sur­vey of HR lead­ers, man­agers and employ­ees which explores atti­tudes to and adop­tion of per­for­mance man­age­ment across the UK. The goal of the research is to understand their views on performance management, as well as its purpose and how they use it.

The authors note that the view on performance management has changed dramatically, even in recent times. First performance management became flavor of the month at high performance organizations. More recently it has fallen out of favor, being replaced by “Learning and Development” as the key focus for talent management. The report’s authors argue that “performance management is far from dead, it has just changed”.

One of the interesting insights from the research is the role of the Board of Directors and how the Board impacts on the culture of performance, and in particular, a culture of honest feedback. The research finds that whilst there are many HR Managers and Functional Managers that place great emphasis on a culture of feedback, it is more difficult for them to tell the Board of Directors that there is a weak performance culture within the organization. This is a question that the Board needs to actively pursue with managers directly.

Nonetheless, the Board of Director’s are generally seen as being “bought-in” to performance development as a whole. When asked about how senior management and the Board of Directors view the importance of performance management at their company, the responses were generally positive. More than half of the responders at both management and employee level confirmed that they felt management were invested in people’s performance.

What Can We Learn From the 2019 UK Performance Management Report?

Senior leadership on performance management

Source: The UK Performance Management Report 2019. ClearView

Nonetheless, some of the results from the different groups in the research also contradicted one another, suggesting a gap in perceived versus actual activities. When asked “How often do managers and employees meet to discuss performance”, 20.3% of HR people and 30.9% of employees said “once a year”. By contrast, only 9% of managers said this. Managers were by far the most likely to say they met monthly (33.6%) whereas only 20.3% of employees and 16.3% of HR people agreed with them. So, whilst managers state that they meet team members monthly, those same team members disagree. This is not necessarily deliberately misleading, it may simply come down to poor tracking and differing perceptions.

A final noteworthy point is the different views on performance management capabilities within the organizations surveyed. The research shows that more than 8 out of 10 (83.3%) organizations are actively offering training in this area. And while the vast majority of managers (92.2%) say they’re adequately trained to have those conversations, less than 70% of employees agree. This is a serious discrepancy that needs to be addressed if performance management is to achieve its full potential.

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Author: Michael Kelly

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