Three performance management trends to shake up 2019

To ensure they are performing at their best, companies must keep up-to-date with HR trends. Stuart Hearn, performance management consultant, speaker and writer outlines the hottest upcoming performance management trends of 2019

2Jan

In HR we need to stay up to date with the latest performance management trends. It's the only real way to ensure we're motivating and encouraging our team in the most effective way. As the years go by, our knowledge of human psychology advances. On top of this, each generation is motivated and driven by different factors. If we don't keep up, our companies fall behind and in this great war for talent we'll lose out to our more forward-thinking competitors.

So with each and every year that goes by, we need to reassess and adjust our performance management systems and workplace processes to ensure they are as conducive to productivity as possible. 2018 was an exciting year for performance management — businesses continued to move away from the traditional annual appraisal system, we began to focus on the quality (as well as quantity) of feedback and companies began to place simplicity at the heart of everything they did.

In 2019, we can expect further change and refinement with regards to performance management. As someone who lives and breathes performance management, I have spoken to industry analysts, academics and HR leaders. I have also attended a number of conferences and I've compiled a list of three top performance management trends that are likely to set the new year alight.

Discussions about mental wellness and wellbeing will become common during performance check-ups

Over the past few years more and more companies have transitioned to continuous performance management, which entails regular performance discussions. Such discussions usually occur on a monthly basis. Employee and manager are able to develop more of an open and trusting relationship, meaning any and all issues that are impeding progress and good performance can be discussed – judgement-free.

While this is true, a surprising number of employees are still reluctant to discuss mental health problems in the workplace. This can be for a number of reasons ­– they fear judgement, they don't want to risk being overlooked for a promotion and they don't want to face discrimination. But keeping your mental wellness under wraps can cause more problems in the long run and given that stress, anxiety and depression are conditions that are on the rise, it is something we need to start discussing and taking seriously at work.


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In 2018, Josh Bersin expressed the need for businesses to become social enterprises, emphasizing that wellbeing is a big part of HR – when employees feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, they get less work done. On top of this, morale nosedives. Nobody wins when we refuse to discuss issues such as anxiety in the workplace.

As we move into 2019, such discussions are likely to play a bigger part in employee check-ins. Addressing these issues are fundamental when it comes to helping employees perform at their best, while retaining top performers. I predict this is one of the biggest performance management trends to watch out for as we approach the start of a new decade.

High-performance coaching will become increasingly popular

As mentioned, regular feedback has become standard over the past few years. This is a good thing, as we know quality and frequent feedback is beneficial to employee performance. But feedback isn't everything. Employees also need coaching, instruction and assistance. This is where high-performance coaching comes into play.

Made popular in the worlds of sport and the military, high-performance coaching involves helping an individual be all they can be. This concept helps employee and manager highlight strengths and areas for improvement so that they can enhance certain vital skills. High-performance coaching gives everyone involved the time to pause and reflect on feedback, while understanding how they can use it to create some real performance gains.

This emerging trend of high-performance coaching in business has been prompted in a big way by the desire for continuous learning and development, and a focus on the growth mindset, something Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has pushed at Microsoft with great success.

Attention will shift from employee engagement to efficiency of employees and managers

Employee engagement has been an HR buzzword over the past few years. Of course, it's a critical concern – engaged employees are essential to the success of a well-performing business. They are generally happier, more productive and more determined to help their company thrive.

In 2019, however, analysts have predicted that a new trend will emerge – that of optimizing productivity and performance. We have spent years learning how to measure engagement. Now it's time to do something about it and actually improve it.

Gallup has shown that the biggest factor in terms of employee engagement is a relationship with management. As such, an emerging trend in performance management technology will be a focus on how we can empower and support managers to be more effective at their jobs, while helping them become the coach their employees need them to be.

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