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HR HeadStart #7: Performance Management; Career Advice; Climate Change
The Talent Agenda
One of the most enduring (and anxiety-inducing) features of corporate life is Performance Management. The typical way it works is that goals are set at the beginning of the year, some feedback may be provided mid-way through the year and, at the year-end, one gets a performance rating, which is linked to pay increments and bonus/incentives. A typical company may end up spending thousands of hours on the process, with little in terms of benefits. Many leaders don't see the value in it and employees can feel disgruntled by the process. The problem often is that performance management approaches have not kept pace with the changing nature of business and work. The traditional approach is slow, rigid and often backwards-looking i.e. a report card of the year gone by, rather than a forward-looking approach to enhance performance.
I believe that performance management needs to evolve to be used as an employee engagement process. It should be used as a platform for driving continuous dialogue between the manager and her direct reports to shape the work, enable performance, identify development opportunities and build capabilities. Goal-setting can no longer be an annual activity, given the pace of change organisations are experiencing. We need to emphasize team goals over individual goals, as work becomes more project-driven and cross-functional in nature. Performance dialogues and feedback cannot be a one or two time activity in the age of remote/hybrid work, where the manager's visibility into their team's work can be constrained. We need to find structured ways to reduce bias in ratings. And importantly, we need to overindex on rewarding the clear high performers and developing others, rather than trying to differentiate the broad middle.
Here are some ideas on modernizing the traditional performance management framework, reducing bias, and leveraging peer reviews.
Advice is cheap, particularly career advice. A large meta-analysis of research on career advice identified the four most common pieces of career advice: 1) take ownership of your career in your own hands, 2) network widely, 3) follow your passion and 4) be ready to jump at the next job opportunity. The authors identified which one of these actually lead to better career outcomes and which don't. For me, taking ownership of your career (rather than expecting the organization or manager to manage it) and combining passion with competence are the most important.
A Productive Workout
The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) recently wrapped up in the UK. While there was much press coverage on the ambitions, negotiations and wins and misses of the conference, you might want to check out this brilliant video of Sir David Attenborough imploring world leaders on making progress on the climate crisis.
"If working apart we are a force powerful enough to destabilize our planet, surely working together we are powerful enough to save it."
I also came across an interesting tool, which allows you to simulate the climate impact of hybrid workplaces. One might assume that a company's carbon footprint will go down dramatically due to hybrid work since it means less commute, lower office space utilisation etc., but in many ways, it just shifts carbon emissions from offices to employees' homes. Check out the tool and perhaps think about how a focus on the environment needs to reflect in HR's priorities. Don't hesitate to reply to this email with your ideas and I would love to have a conversation.
Continuing the theme of Performance Management - enjoy this :)