AI is changing the annual performance review

Performance management is going digital — and it may be changing the role of the manager.

As more employers invest in artificial intelligence, the technology is expected to play a larger role in helping employers assess their workers, according to a report from Mercer. With the help of technology, the consulting firm predicts that the manager role will shift from gauging past performance to more of a coach, that guides workers future success.

“We believe that AI, by scraping communication platforms such as text, emails and calendars, will help identify those colleagues and customers that are most connected to an employee,” says Lori Holsinger, global performance management study leader at Mercer. “Based on those touch points, it will encourage those most connected to provide coaching to the employee – in person, video chat, or online — based on the employee’s preference. We believe that this approach will increase feedback that will encourage employees and coaching in person.”

See also: Turning to tech, Mars revamps employee coaching benefit

HR technology is already starting to play a role in performance management and coaching. For example, tools including Bravely and BetterUp are mobile apps that provide personalized coaching to workers. The fast casual restaurant Dig Inn and M&M’s manufacturer Mars both offer coaching tech to employees. Mars selected the digital tool BetterUp, because it wanted something that would be able to reach its global workforce.

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“We believe you should have a one Mars experience,” Summer Davies, global senior manager of leadership at Mars told Employee Benefit News in May. “[That] means if you work at Mars in Topeka, you should have the same access to growth development and support, as if you work in Guangzhou, China or Cape Town, South Africa.”

But the number of employers actually implementing new technology remains small and some are struggling to find the return on investment. Even though there was a 19% increase in the use of performance management vendor technology in the last six years — and 25% of employers integrated that tech into other people management platforms — the use of talent analytics has not increased. Less than 15% of employers have actually adopted new tools, Mercer found.

See also: Dig Inn invests in employee coaching benefit

If employers do decide to use technology to boost their review process, Holsinger says it should be used as a supplement to in-person coaching. Tech can provide valuable information on growing an employee’s career, exploring career paths and understanding what a day-in-the life can be for critical jobs, she adds.

“This technology needs to be supplemented with personalized career coaching by someone who invests in the employee’s career and helps them reach their short- and long-term career goals,” she says. “This will be the new role of the traditional manager.”

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