Performance management is one of the most debated topics in talent management. This is particularly true in the United Kingdom, where recent geo-political events have combined with several other factors (i.e., the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation and unique British professional and social norms) to make it exceedingly difficult to implement effective performance management processes.
As we are not fortune tellers, predicting how talent management in the UK will evolve over the next two to five years is challenging. However, we can suggest several performance management best practices that will assist UK-based organizations as they tackle Britain’s current obstacles in performance management. If there’s anything we have learned in the last two years, it’s that tough times offer an opportunity to pause, think and turn adversity into a learning experience – one that better positions your organization.
In this article, we will look at the different factors impeding performance management in the UK. Whether external or internal, we’ll provide tips and guidance for organizations to tackle today’s most prominent challenges, implement best practices and take their performance management to the next level.
Performance Management Challenges in The UK
Before we jump into the latest trends in performance management, we first need to fully understand the current challenges that UK employers face in making their performance review process effective. On the bright side, and as a spoiler alert, we can assure you none of them is impossible to overcome.
The Cultural Clash with Self-evaluations
Among many other things, performance management involves a process in which employees and managers review past objectives, discuss different ongoing projects and set a bar for future reviews. This is when employees must provide superiors with an honest evaluation of their performance, whether they have met or failed to meet their quarterly or yearly goals, bringing us to the element of self-evaluations.
Self-evaluations require a strong determination from employees to accept responsibility for their achievements and shortcomings. And for a characteristically polite and more reserved culture in the UK, this could be a problem. Where US-based employees may not feel ashamed of highlighting their successes, Brits may feel like it’s blowing one’s own trumpet.
As politically correct as it may sound to let others – especially managers or team leaders – speak about an employee’s achievements, this is not the best approach for performance reviews. A thorough self-assessment can help employees feel more engaged in the appraisal process as they gain confidence and insights while setting goals for the future. This cultural element dampens the performance management process in the UK, eliminating a crucial tool for critical reflection and skill development.
Post-Brexit Employment Regulations
Brexit has brought numerous changes in various senses to the UK, professionally and socially. And, when we narrow our scope to HR, the impact has been significant. Anyone can check online to see how to comply with all current regulations. But, in short, UK employers need to follow certain criteria regarding salaries, education, job level and visa duration in the British territory when hiring non-UK employees.
Now, how do Brexit regulations affect performance management processes?
At first glance, there’s no reason why recruiting limitations should negatively impact a talent management initiative. However, if we dig a little deeper, we’ll notice that they also trigger a talent loss for organizations. In other words, foreign employees who don’t comply with these regulations and/or can’t (or don’t want to) apply for permanent residency need to leave.
This talent exodus has exacerbated skills gaps that the current workforce must cover until a local (or Brexit-compliant) fit is sourced, engaged and trained to fill the void. What can you expect of a performance management process that evaluates employees doing their best to cover a skills gap for which they weren’t properly trained? Inaccurate feedback that negatively impacts employee experience by generating a sense of frustration and, eventually, affects salaries.
Current Performance Management Techniques in the UK
In the words of Nietzche, the German philosopher, “the worst enemy you can meet will always be yourself.” And this is certainly the case for many talent management teams in the UK. One of the biggest challenges they must address is their current performance management techniques. More specifically, their traditionalist style.
One may then ask, “what’s the problem with keeping a traditionalist style?”
This methodology tends to rely on annual appraisals that focus on past objectives that were set long before the performance conversation and, more often than not, become less important or even obsolete when the time to review arrives. According to pre-pandemic research, over 70 percent of UK employers claimed to be using annual appraisals.
Compared to modern approaches that champion regular performance conversations that promote continuous development, traditionalist methodologies can leave employees dissatisfied with the entire performance management process.
With 49 percent of UK employees lacking regular performance conversations with their managers, organizations should rethink their methodologies to reap the benefits of the modern approach to performance management.
Performance Management Best Practices to Tackle UK Challenges
Performance management is constantly evolving, not only with respect to its techniques and methodologies but also to its aim.
Performance reviews are shifting to an employee-centered model, with engagement and productivity as core tenets. Now is the moment for organizations to prove how effective performance management is in empowering employees. Thus, UK employers need to adapt to an agile framework that holistically improves the employee experience, where value and professional development can occur.
Still, we’re not here to state what future performance management processes should be like, but how UK organizations can achieve effectiveness in their reviews and fully address the abovementioned challenges.
1. Peer Feedback: Compensate for Cultural Challenges towards Self-evaluation
One of the latest performance management trends is incorporating feedback from multiple sources.
By incorporating peer feedback, employers maximize their source of information regarding employee performance and open the door to unlocking hidden talent. Given the previously discussed cultural uniqueness of the UK, valuable skills may remain in the dark without employees providing useful and honest evaluations concerning what it was like to work with a colleague on a given project or how they contributed to achieving a goal.
While there are various ways to lead and implement this socially based performance
management best practice, they all hold the same truth: it works. Remote work has decreased the amount of manager-employee interactions, and solely relying on managerial feedback is not viable. The digital era has increased the need for teamwork, and employers nowadays relate more often with co-workers than superiors.
2. A Holistic Approach to Performance Management
Siloed talent management processes limit agility. They may even impact employee experience negatively, turning talent retention into a more significant challenge. The current shift in performance management models calls for coordination among various talent management initiatives, where you can get valuable information from one and implement it in another.
Let’s take, for example, the talent loss difficulties UK employers are facing due to Brexit. Organizations need to cover open roles and responsibilities that require specific skill sets. In a holistic framework, where talent management initiatives are interconnected, managers can find, propose and follow up on development plans during a performance review, discovering hidden interests and developing new skills. This approach works toward improving the employee experience and productivity, unlocking hidden talent and maximizing the effectiveness of all initiatives by finding relevant relations between one another.
Moreover, unified talent management initiatives help avoid confusion or misinformation with data, a crucial element in this increasing digital work environment,, and which plays a significant role when implementing a holistic approach.
The best way for organizations to leverage data is to activate their talent management initiatives under the same platform. In this way, it becomes the stone that kills both birds. On the one hand, HR professionals and managers get a better insight into the information they collect from the different touchpoints of the employee journey and can implement it to increase retention (one of the most critical current goals). On the other, they maximize the effectiveness of their performance management processes by enhancing productivity and by empowering their workforce to develop professionally within the organization.
3. Continuous Performance Management
Implementing continuous reviews is one of the most crucial best practices in modern performance management initiatives. Once again, with the inevitable evolution of quarterly and yearly goals, annual appraisals lose ground, impact and effectiveness. By implementing ongoing feedback, employers give place to a shift in employee appraisal philosophy.
Continuous performance management doesn’t change the performance review basics. However, small adjustments occur when regular check-ups take place. Managers are still in charge of reviewing past objectives while decreasing the risk of them becoming obsolete by applying necessary changes in the shape of follow-ups. This approach broadens the scope of an employee performance review by implementing a forward-looking evaluation.
By adapting to a continuous performance management approach, managers improve their workforce’s awareness of the skill sets. Through 1-on-1 talks, leaders can better understand employees’ desires and interests, review past and future goal-setting and implement feedback more consistently, meeting both organizational and personal objectives simultaneously.
Case Studies in Effective Performance Management
Having a detailed guide with best practices to apply to your talent management initiatives is fantastic. But, to really grasp how performance management processes can become more effective within your organization, there’s still a need for practical examples. In the examples provided below, you’ll see how organizations from different industries have adapted their performance management techniques with the help of agile technology.
Generac’s Holistic Approach to Performance Management
A producer of best-in-class home standby generator systems, Generac is consistently regarded as one of the best places to work among top American manufacturers. But despite this accolade, the talent team wanted to improve the employee experience by taking it to the next level.
To accomplish this goal, Generac leveraged agile technology provided by Avature to unify their company-wide talent management initiatives. They were looking for a holistic approach to harness valuable data collected in the various touchpoints of the employee journey throughout their core pillars: career and professional development, performance management and succession planning.
By consolidating all employee-related information into one platform, Generac achieved a time-saving performance management process that allows agile setting and shifting goals in times of constant change. Their holistic approach also involves ongoing feedback techniques that provide valuable data to other talent management initiatives within the organization.
Pontoon’s Shift to Agile Performance Management
A leading global workforce solutions provider, Pontoon addresses the talent needs of top worldwide partners. But, besides providing solutions as a service, they also take care of their workforce and seek different ways to improve their talent management initiatives to improve engagement.
As they evaluated their internal performance management processes, the Pontoon team realized they needed change. With one of their top priorities set to enhance transparency and trust in their strategy, they also chose Avature Performance Management to:
- Give autonomy to their employees with an agile, goal-driven approach.
- Implement continuous performance management with future-oriented check-ins.
- Collect valuable data that would help them achieve ongoing improvements.
- Measure the impact of performance management within their company.
After implementing a strategy that covered their goals and needs, the outcome for Pontoon was positive in numerous ways as regards their performance management process. Firstly, they were able to provide goal-setting autonomy to employees. Secondly, they achieved a way to acknowledge their employees, which boosted engagement. And last but not least, their easy-to-follow intuitive tool provided timely and effective feedback, with a major focus on the growth and development of their workforce.
Finding the best performance management software available to deliver a tailored experience that meets organizational and personal goals will take a performance review strategy to the next level. And, as we know that each organization has its own scope and core values, the best strategies may differ. However, with the right agile technology, organizations can unlock hidden talent, provide development opportunities and collect (and implement) valuable data in a time-effective way.