What Remote Working Means for Performance Management, Plus 7 Other PM Trends

The recent easing of coronavirus restrictions offered a glimmer of hope for many Australian organisations impacted by the pandemic, but uncertainty has returned with another six weeks of lockdown introduced in Victoria in early July. For organisations able to remain open, that means many employees will remain or return to working from home, further testing the endurance and skill of people managers everywhere.

Remote work arrangements place increased pressure on managers to empathically relate to employees while also ensuring productivity meets expectations, amongst other managerial responsibilities, of course. While pausing performance management (PM) activities during lockdown may have felt reasonable to some in the early days, it’s become apparent that this may be the new normal, and we must adapt PM to fit within it. In fact, Gartner found that before the pandemic, 30% of the workforce worked from home at least part time. We now expect 48% to work from home after the crisis ends. The time for change in performance management is now.

Employee distribution post pandemic graph

The agile advantage

Organisations that have already made the transition from traditional to agile PM have a head start, as adoption continues to increase. Employees without the frequent yet structured feedback loop of agile have probably relied on informal, organic feedback from managers during day to day interactions in the office. However, lack of physical presence during lockdown drastically reduces its likelihood, providing yet another reason to make the switch. Agile performance management helps build a culture of continuous feedback in a systematic way while saving managers time on formal performance reviews and increasing employee engagement, productivity, satisfaction, and retention.

Did you know? Cognology’s Performance Management product is complemented by our Work From Home tools, including a policy template, checklists, tip sheets, and more.

HR as advisor

Managers are increasingly expected to handle aspects of performance management that HR has done in the past, and this goes hand in hand with the adoption of agile PM. Research has shown that the most important PM responsibilities for managers are related to real-time feedback, check-ins, and coaching while HR holds more of an oversight role, advising on the process and interpreting data. This partnership will continue to evolve as remote working connects employees and managers in new ways.

Skills, not roles

Another role for HR in PM? Ensuring a focus on development. Rapid changes in technology are leading to some human skills becoming obsolete. In fact, 53% of Deloitte survey respondents said between half and all of their workforce will need to change their skills and capabilities in the next three years. Therefore, expect to see a shift away from a focus on roles to a focus on skills that can be used across roles, allowing the organisation to be more flexible in meeting the market’s needs.

Employee re-skill graph

Personalisation expected

And that skill development will be super-individualised. While performance management has always had a focus on the individual, this is new for performance development. The future of development moves beyond demographic segmentation to curated, personalised learning experiences.

Employees as partners in the process

Employees are increasingly seeking a sense of belonging at work, something particularly challenging to provide in a work-from-home environment. They want to feel respected and be treated fairly––and they want to know why their work matters. One way to foster a sense of belonging is to involve employees in defining their own goals, development activities, and even the PM process.

Cognology Performance Management streamlines and automates the PM process with everything you need for competency ratings, performance plans, real-time feedback, development tracking, check-ins, reporting, and more.

Adding team objectives

There is a clear trend in the fact that more and more organisations are moving toward a team-based structure. Right now, only 46% of organisations use team-based objectives as part of individual performance reviews. But it’s inevitable that we’ll see increased emphasis on both team objectives and the individual’s ability to assimilate.

Analytics in high demand

Our final trend is a big one. Today’s uncertain business environment has led to an increase in executive interest in workforce data, so we’re seeing a steep rise in the use of HR data analytics. Forty percent of respondents in a recent KPMG survey said enhancing analytics capabilities is among the top three reasons for their organisations’ investment in HR technology. Demand for modern PM systems that can produce actionable insights from large volumes of data will be in high demand this year and beyond.

Download the Cognology 2020 Trends in Performance Management Guide

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