Performance Management in the New Era

by Jody Ordioni

There have been a great many debates that try to reach a conclusion on how to best measure an individual’s progress in the organization. It started nearly five years back when the stalwarts in the performance management industry decided to do away with the traditional methods to measure performance. The ineffectiveness of the traditional route was chalked up to the failure of the rating system. With further thoughts and deliberations there has been an evolving concern that the deficiencies of performance management extend beyond the simply eliminating or restructuring the established rating system.

The discussion undertaken in the past five years has helped arrive at two definitive conclusions. Firstly, it has brought to the fore the discussion on what the organization hopes to gain by measuring the performance of the individuals, as well the employees themselves stand to benefit from such an evaluation. Secondly, it helps to understand the topic of performance management in broader terms such as behavior of the employee in the organization, motivation of employees, their engagement and recognition. This understanding helps to contextualize the subject in a broader sense of management and helps open more avenues for dialogue and development.

This period of development has also been important because there has been a change in the process of restructuring- discarding ratings is not the absolute reformative measure rather there is a focus on evidence-based study to support the change. A few key components have emerged when considering measurement, management, and rewarding the potential and behavior of employees within the organization. A more in-depth evaluation and contemplation is necessary than just debates for management to succeed and go beyond annual evaluation. The process of performance management should not weigh down the administrative unit and should not instill in them a dislike for feedback.

Feedback is a Crucial Step to Enhance Performance and Facilitate Development

Human beings thrive on constructive feedback, however unsolicited feedback signals the alarm bells in the social sphere of human brain. Most of the relevant feedback reaches employees through the leaders and managers. If the managers are unable to provide employees with feedback that is a balance of constructive and positive, then replacing annual evaluation with better models will yield no results. The obstacle to overcome is not the initiation of a institute that allows dialogue, however, the success of any such model definitely depends on the deliverance by the managerial unit.

Since employee preferences and experiences are important, there is a need for existence of soft skills in the leadership. This skill is based on the technique of tactfully saying the necessary. It is important for the leadership to be aware of their shortcomings and emotional intelligence. Leaders need to check their own biases and put in effort to know the employees to provide constructive criticism. Just as feedback is an important aspect of an employee’s growth, it is necessary for the organization to understand its shortcomings. The value of feedback is incomparable, and companies should encourage employees to provide them with feedback as well.

If there is No Measurement, there is No Improvement

The platform of performance management also encompasses within itself other human resources endeavors, such as systems of compensation, workforce planning, decisions regarding promotions, and legal patterns. Changes in the sphere of performance are not possible, since they are strongly under the influence of shifting demographics in the workplace. Any shift in the performance sphere leads to a significant change in the cultural sphere of the organization.

Compiling different data inputs from the talent pool, for example the nature of ratings, attrition rate of top-performing employees, connections between engagement and employee performance etc., can be useful in providing valuable insights to decide the approach for tackling performance management. Data inputs should be kept an eye on continuously for growth and correction. The process of measurement is crucial for improvement in any organization.

Leadership’s Ability to Adapt and Sustain

If changes in talent management are to run over smoothly, the contribution of the leadership to their sustenance cannot be taken lightly. According to a research report in Harvard Business Review, after the initial excitement of aspirational business models fails away, most of the leadership rolls into the destructive and old practices. New models for performance management rely heavily on recognition, coaching, building trust, and transparency. To succeed, these components need to be applied; their application is only possible when the leadership does away with its old customs and traditions of thought and communication.

The leadership needs to be agile and learn the new methods of measurements. While technology is useful, too much reliance on technology leads to a deterioration in personal interactions that are key to new performance management methods. The handling of change by managers can be indicative of the measure of success that will follow.

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