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An overview of Performance Management: yesterday, today, tomorrow

Updated: Apr 19, 2021

Humans have always analysed, assessed and evaluated one and other; with early reports of this dating back to ancient times when emperors of the Wei Dynasty rated the performance of official family members. With Performance Management being intrinsic to human behaviour, we’ve taken a look at how the past and present has shaped the future and how it will continue to evolve alongside advances in technology.

Yesterday: increasing the structure of Performance Management

In the early 1900s, Performance Management within organisations was pretty non-existent. With a largely industrialised workforce and less competition for talent, employee welfare and personal development was easily neglected.

Things started to change from the 1950s onwards which marked the beginning of a more formal performance appraisal process. This came with the introduction of Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) which focussed on assessing employees on personality traits rather than competencies e.g. is someone loyal, sincere and trustworthy? As you can imagine, this opens the door to a myriad of biases and cannot be fairly assessed. Additionally, employees were often kept in the dark about their results which fostered a secretive culture and compounded employee disengagement.

Towards the latter half of the century and in a bid to promote a more objective and transparent process; self-appraisals, feedback, competency frameworks and the use of goals and objectives were introduced. These tools started to pave the way for much of the performance processes used today.

Today: Performance Review Cycles and emerging trends

Nowadays, most companies have been, and are still, managing performance using a variation of the formal annual performance review cycle. This is a series of steps (Fig 2) which helps ensure that high achievers are rewarded for reaching their goals and performing well.

However, in recent years, this way of assessing performance has been scrutinised for being stagnant and too infrequent. This has led to organisations exploring how technology can help transform how we evaluate and reward people. Veran has been at the forefront of this activity, partnering with organisations to implement Cloud HR and Performance Management Technology. A couple of ways this exciting technology enhances performance across organisations is by enabling flexible ‘anytime reviews’ as well as sophisticated and agile goal-setting functionality. Real-time, accurate documentation and reporting has also become pivotal; with everything needed to understand employee performance and the cultural landscape accessible in one central place.

Tomorrow: what does the future look like for Performance Management?

It’s become clear that Technology is key to creating a more robust performance review process which fairly assesses and engages the ever changing and competitive labour market we operate in today;

· Trends indicate that more companies are moving from a formal annual review process to a continuous series of ‘mini appraisals’ which are as-needed discussions as opposed to event driven ones.

· As feedback will be collected more frequently and in real-time, the quality of performance data will significantly improve. This data can be better analysed to draw out themes in employee behaviour, to predict future behaviours as well as identify those who are a flight risk.

· New technologies in this domain utilise AI and scoring feedback to analyse both the employee’s feedback along with the number and type of interactions. This creates a fairer and more balanced evaluation.

· Naturally, in the age of social media, performance reviews and management will take a less rigid, informal approach; using apps to manage on-the-go and enhance user experience.

If you would like to discover more about how technology can transform Performance Management in your workplace then please contact Veran Performance here.



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