The last two years have challenged us like no other in terms of how we manage our people, remotely, dispersed, and with a wholly new set of challenges that we’ve since become somewhat accustomed to. So what will the next 2 years bring and where do we evolve from here? I’ve been studying performance management trends for over 25 years now and I really believe we are on the foot of the biggest changes that we’ve seen in this space for decades. Here are my predictions for where we are headed to:
It happened to performance, compensation will follow.
As more frequent performance conversations are common, the gap between compensation and recognition outcomes for achievement and end of project/task accomplishment widens. It is important for leaders to “understand the basic elements of compensation and ways to link it to desired outcomes” (Harvard Business Review, 2021). There will be pressure to become increasingly innovative about compensation and recognition practices, to accompany the new trends in performance. End of project or task recognition and/or bonuses are increasingly common and this trend will accelerate. So if your compensation and recognition programme people aren’t talking yet or still thinking in annual terms, get them together quickly! They’ll need to integrate their plans to really make this effective.
Teams will dominate the discussion.
The 90’s were all about the Superstars, individuals that brought exceptional success to what they did. Society at large celebrated unique individuals that stood out. Now we see society shift its focus to teams, those teams that work together brilliantly to find success. I believe organisations will follow this trend and many already have. This will translate into greater focus on team goals, team achievement, and team success. Getting organised around team goals and rewards will serve you well. Working effectively in a team is the new superstar!
Connection will become increasingly important.
For a long time, there were discussions of bringing your ‘whole self’ to work and celebrating the diversity of who you are in the workplace. The ‘whole self’, whether we wanted it or not arrived over the past 2 years. Now that changes the conversation. We are now dealing with the ‘whole self’ issues as we face one-to-ones and check-in conversations. Connection will become increasingly important to overcome feelings of isolation, weariness and other ‘whole self’ challenges that people will increasingly open up about. Our managers will need to be equipped to coach and manage their people. This will be not just through work activities, but with respect to mental health challenges, work/life balance boundaries, and many other ‘whole self’ discussions. It will open up the individual to articulate how they are really feeling. These are not simple conversations and our managers are not therapists. They’ll need support on how to effectively navigate these conversations and keep their teams connected and motivated. Coaching tips and capabilities for our leaders and frontline managers will be key.
Feedback will evolve, from real-time, crowdsourced into insightful understanding of oneself.
The starting point for growth of an individual is an understanding of where you can grow, which strengths can you enhance and accelerate. And not just strengths but also which development needs can you address. It won’t be enough to just receive feedback in the moment. Talent will increasingly look for how that serves them opportunities for growth. The individual growth journey will become key in retaining and motivating your people. Evolving your feedback practices to provide insight to your people so that they can generate a greater understanding of themselves will return its own rewards.
Talent won the war a long time ago and the great resignation is continuously tempting them with newer pastures.
We will need to continually recognise the achievements and milestones of both individuals and teams in shorter-term sprints. As such, development conversations and career path milestones will need to shorten. We can’t facilitate continually promoting people so new innovative means of defining out the career path journey and provide new opportunities will become increasingly important. This will be coupled with recognition and achievement oriented initiatives, bringing together the practices of Continuous Performance Management.
No doubt, some organisations will organise quicker around some of these trends than others. One thing I’ve learned about performance management over the years is that everyone likes to do it their own way. So for some organisations they won’t realise these trends into reality for another few years, but they are already here and well established with many progressive organisations. How we innovate around them will define our success from here. Exciting times! This is the beginning of a seismic shift in how we think about and address performance and our working cultures.