Interview with Stuart Hearn, CEO at Performance Management App: Clear Review

Clear Review is a cloud based employee performance management and engagement app. It helps organisations to empower their people to perform to the best of their abilities and bring their best selves to work, whilst ensuring everyone is aligned to the organisation’s strategic priorities. We launched in 2016 and we’ve grown very quickly during that time, with hundreds of customers around the world using Clear Review.
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How did you come up with the idea for the company?

I’d been working in the area of performance management for a number of years and it was becoming increasingly obvious to me that existing approaches based around annual appraisals and 12 month long objectives were no longer fit for purpose in today’s agile organisations. Plus, research was showing that those old approaches were doing more harm than good to employee performance and engagement.

As a performance management consultant, I knew what was needed instead to get the best from employees – shorter-term objectives aligned to company strategy, real-time feedback and regular check-in conversations. But I also knew that embedding these practices would be hard without technology to nudge people to take action and to capture the data. So we built Clear Review to do just that.


Tell us about your new report and how you see it impacting the wider HR and Business community

Our 2021 performance management report examines the current practices of over 200 companies across the UK, Europe and the USA, including American Express, The Cabinet Office, PepsiCo and the BBC. Our researchers spoke to a combination of HR professionals, managers and employees to get a holistic view.

Having a report like this is critical for people managers because there’s been a lack of quality information about how companies are approaching performance management since practices started to evolve a few years ago. We did our first performance management report in 2019, so this year we were able to look at what specifically had changed over the last 12-18 months.

Can you talk a bit about the findings, and highlight those that really surprised you?

It was clear from the findings that the COVID pandemic had massively accelerated the pace of change within performance management. Since we launched Clear Review in 2016, we’d seen a steady evolution of practices, but 2020 saw a seismic shift towards agile, continuous performance management. This makes sense because when the majority of employees are remote, and company strategies are changing so quickly, you need performance conversations and feedback to be more regular and structured. And people’s work goals need to be crystal clear and near-term.

Whilst the report underlined the critical importance of having regular performance and development conversations at work, what we didn’t expect was the sheer number of organisations who lacked confidence in their managers’ ability to carry them out. Almost half of organisations admitted that their managers didn’t have the skills to coach and develop their people effectively.

What can we hope to see from Clear Review in the future?

Because we now have several years of performance and development data in our Clear Review system, we’re now starting to focus more heavily on data analytics and AI. For example, our data scientists are working on algorithms that can help employees write better goals and give better feedback, and hopefully help organisations to predict who their future high performers will be and who is a flight risk. It’s certainly an exciting time to be working in HR tech