5 Trends Making Performance Enablement a Priority

5 Trends Making Performance Enablement a Priority

Less performance management and more performance enablement can achieve break-through results for both employees and organisations.

The Indian cricket team that beat Australia in a recent test match series did not have many of its star players. Most of them were young and new. They surprised the Australian team and cricket fans worldwide with their exceptional performance and won the series.


Speaking to the media in an online press conference, bowling coach Bharat Arun said the ploy to strangle the Australians was drawn up well before the series. The plan was that the Indian players on the field needed to take the offside out of the Australians. Pacers and even spinners attacked the leg stumps of Australia’s batting pillars Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, with fielders at catching positions on the leg side.


This was a perfect example of performance enablement. The entire team was enabled with a clear direction and a strategic plan to execute. The players played to their strengths and stood up for each other on the field, making the game both enjoyable and successful. The team members felt empowered and, at the same time, were enabled to perform at their best.


Success in both sports and business relies on the ability to continually elevate performance. Less performance management and more performance enablement can achieve breakthrough results for both employees and organisations.


Let’s look at five key trends that will drive organisations towards performance enablement:


1. Less Commute and More Communication


A 2020 Gartner survey showed that approximately one-half of the surveyed companies had more than 80% of their employees opting for flexible work. Typical office settings are no longer the preferred option, and employees will prefer to commute less and communicate more. Here are three things to keep in mind on this front:


Co-create Expectations: Defining performance expectations is a twoway street. Instead of setting expectations for employees, co-create expectations with employees. Have conversations to define expectations together for both sides—leaders and team members.


 Communicate the “Why”: Employees need more than targets and numbers to keep themselves focused, motivated, and driven. Communicating the organisational “why” and encouraging team members to tie it to their personal “why” will enable them to commit to expectations from a place of purpose, passion, and inspiration.


• Establish Ongoing, Informal Check-Ins: Annual/Quarterly reviews are yesterday’s news. Feedback is a gift, but it becomes more of a chore or formality through annual or quarterly appraisals. Many employees feel that feedback is a hard stone thrown at them. However, making time for developmental conversations and delivering constructive feedback informally and frequently with positive intent could be a precious stone that employees would want to save and cherish.


2. Contingent/Gig Workforce Will Be More Widespread


Even before COVID-19, the gig economy was growing at a phenomenal rate globally. The pandemic pushed even more people around the world the gig way. Research by Gartner found that 32% of organisations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure and to enhance workforce management flexibility. There are organisations that also offer their internal full-time employees opportunities to work on gig projects that interest them.


When it comes to leveraging external talent, the gig way is no longer limited to the technology sector, blue-collar workers or entry-level roles. And one of the first steps to enable their performance is to onboard them as you would full-timers. Whether you are recruiting someone for six months or six years, a sink-or-swim approach to onboarding can be disastrous.


Have the freelancers and short-term hires go through a short onboarding period that enables them to perform their specific roles. Clarify performance expectations, assign and engage them with their managers and full-time team members, provide access to relevant digital tools, information and resources, and contextualise the company’s culture and values to help them align with and see a deeper purpose behind their work.


Ensure that gig workers feel welcome and included. Enable regular two-way feedback, appreciate and recognise them for what they do, and engage them with the project’s progress and company’s goals in a way that sets them up for success and makes them committed to the organisation’s success.


3. Ethical Stalking Will Become a Norm


A recent Gartner analysis showed that organisations are increasingly using technologies to monitor and track employee emails, work computer usage, internal communications/chat, and virtual clocking in and out. While some companies track productivity, others monitor employee engagement and well-being to understand the employee experience better. Along the lines of ethical hacking, ethical stalking may become a norm.


Employee monitoring can be a double-edged sword. It can provide critical insights into increasing productivity while ensuring data security. On the other hand, it can severely erode trust, making people feel micromanaged and spied on with invasive and excessive monitoring levels.


An article published in the Harvard Business Review during the early days of the pandemic described how Microsoft analysed metadata from anonymised emails, instant messaging, time spent on meetings, and so on to capture insights into collaboration and work-life balance of its newly remote teams. This is a good example of how employee monitoring can reap meaningful returns when approached and implemented with purpose and rigour.


Perhaps the most important priority should be to communicate the purpose of monitoring and make employees aware of what you are tracking, addressing the challenges that arise and building trust even when there is ethical stalking.


4. Increased Emphasis on Outcomes and Retraining for Retaining


A remote/hybrid work model for knowledge-based work requires organisations to focus on outcomes, not how busy people appear to be by being available on Teams or Slack. Define clear goals and milestones and review progress, but don’t go overboard by constantly interrupting team members for updates on every little task through excessive messages and meetings. Minimise distractions and let people work on their own schedule as long as they complete the assigned tasks within the agreed-upon timeframe.


The World Economic Forum estimates that 50% of employees will need to be reskilled by 2025. Reskilling based on market demands would be a top priority for many organisations. To move away from rigidity, organisations would become more responsive, with roles becoming more agile, flexible, and outcome-based. This would allow employees to perform better and maintain a vision of their movement in the organisation along with possibilities of enhancing their own selves with relevant training and learning opportunities.


5. Location-Agnostic Employee Experience Will Take Centre Stage


The pandemic has made many organisations location-agnostic. No matter the physical space in which employees work, they will need to be empowered and enabled with consistent experiences to perform at their best.


However, simply replicating inoffice experiences in a remote/hybrid setting will not work. For instance, video meetings and Zoom happy hours seemed an elegant solution to replicate in-person water cooler conversations and work culture elements. As research found out, virtual in-screen interactions are more draining on the brain than their in-person equivalent. A 60- minute Zoom video meeting is more tiring than a 60-minute in-person meeting. As a result, many companies reduced meeting time to 30 minutes, became mindful of scheduling breaks between remote meetings, and helped employees carve out time for focused work without any distractions to enhance both collaboration and productivity.


Providing employee-centric technologies and tools to meet the needs of a dispersed workforce, demonstrating a commitment to the holistic well-being of employees, and building and maintaining their trust will be integral parts of a positive employee experience, whether work is done at the office or not.


Swarna Sudha Selvaraj is the Head of Talent Development for TCS Europe, UK & Ireland. She is a vibrant HR leader with over 18 years of work experience gained from association with TCS and Murugappa Group of Companies.


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