The Colours Of Performance

The Colours Of Performance

Since Performance Management systems are the central business processes to support talent assessment, talent development and talent retention they need to be revisited to make appraisal processes and KPIs relevant for different employee categories.

These are interesting times since we are witnessing the emergence of new workplaces, work systems and work assimilation. Hybrid workforce has emerged as a category and is here to stay. This was supported by the Gartner survey conducted on HR leaders, where 90% of the leaders predicted remote working to continue beyond the pandemic. These emergent dynamics in the workplace would need new employment arrangements for equity amongst the different employee categories. Since Performance Management systems are the central business processes to support talent assessment, talent development and talent retention they need to be revisited to make appraisal processes and KPIs relevant for different employee categories. Two sets of employees– one working at the office and the other functioning remotely- need different metrics.


Understanding success parameters


One of the major issues plaguing remote workers is understanding their success parameters. Would they be measured in the same manner as an employee working from the office? If yes, then as put forth by James Sinclair, how would they compensate for the ‘half-life of social capital’? The decay of trust, fading networks and consequent loss of falling psychological safety would need a different measure of performance. A remote worker may need to be appraised on the ability to learn and work independently, effective communication with the team and also on emotional wellness. However, the metrics will be outcome-based instead of effort-based for a floating worker. The Quality of delivery would matter rather than the number of logging hours.


Apart from work arrangements, work values and work drivers of employees are also being fast categorised. Predicting the future of the workplace, Padmaja Alaganandan, the Chief People Officer, PwC, describes that organisations will exist in the intersection of three different worlds:–


 The individual competition and equity driven Blue World.


A freelancer dominated Orange World with mostly contract based work arrangements.


• A Green World where employees will be driven by cause and collaboration.


Similar performance metrics would definitely not align with the interests of the different worlds. While the blue world might be delighted focussing on individual performance based on individual performancebased incentives, the Green World would lean towards team incentives, whereas the Orange World will look at milestone-based metrics that would be revised with every project. The rewards expectations of these employees are also bound to be different. While the Blue World might look at a handsome merit pay hike or performance bonus, the Green World might prioritise meaningful work over pay hikes, and the Orange World might look forward to a repeat project from the client or establishing a good client relationship as the most important rewards. And, it is in this context that agility, hyperpersonalisation and transparency become the important cornerstones of the Performance Management system in the new normal of hybrid working.


Competencies for highperforming work culture


Traditional job-based goals might now require to be replaced with more agile competency-based goals where metrics such as ability to cope with change, flexibility to learn, compassion towards peers and subordinate, risk management and decisionmaking in crisis situation would assume salience. Organisations like Infosys are now striving to strike a balance between both individual and team performance as collaboration and innovation emerge as important competencies for a highperforming work culture. In today’s dynamic hybrid work model, defining particular tasks for a job have become quite impossible. Rather, tracking competencies that could help employees deliver any task that comes their way is the key. Traditional job-based structures are almost on the verge of being replaced with skill-based/ competency-based structures (which are otherwise also referred to as personbased structures). In fact, the Aon Salary Increase Trends Survey 2020-21 predicted skill-based pay as a major shift in these times. However, the decision point would be if the organisation values skill depth or breadth and how would it deal with skill saturation in such a system?


Going beyond one-size-fits-all


Further, organisations, now, need to look beyond the traditional ‘one-size-fits-all’ performance management system. A 2019 Mercer Global Performance Management Survey revealed that employees desire a curated experience with their feedback session that goes beyond just informal check-ins and timely feedback sessions. Such employees who feel that their organisations value their unique capabilities are four times likely to stay on. This is exactly what hyper-personalisation is all about. Hyperpersonalised performance management is not just about evaluating the skills and performance of their workforce but also understanding the unique attributes of each worker while maintaining focus on developing individual skills through training, coaching, mentoring, or even counselling. However, there are definite concerns on how could such agile and hyper-personalised systems are sustained.


The answer is a digitalised, data-driven, transparent performance management system. Deloitte has been working on revamping their entire performance management system where a real-time performance management dashboard tracks the progress of organisation, teams, and individuals against their targets. This not only acts as continuous feedback for the employees, rather as a motivator since they can now see the complete connect between their goals and the organisational goals.


This also enables corrective measures or developmental interventions to be timed perfectly in order to boost the performance levels of entities at all levels. Going further, performance researchers have been actively linking the field with the anthropology discipline where they have stressed on the fact that employee always brings his/ her whole to the work and this phenomenon has increased manifold when work has gone to employees’ homes in the form of remote working arrangements. Hence, the performance data that we collect about an individual employee should not be restricted to the organisational boundaries rather should extend to understand their whole self. This is time to move from ‘big’ data to ‘thick’ data that presents a more empathetic and compassionate understanding of an individual.

Dr. Subhra Pattnaik teaches in the School of Human Resource Management, Xavier University Bhubaneswar. She has around 14 years of work experience, spanning across consulting and academia. She specialises in the areas of performance management, compensation management, and talent assessment. Her research interests lies in areas such as Sustainability, Diversity and Inclusion, Organisation Justice, and Employee Performance and she has published papers on them in tiered journals. A passionate trainer, Subhra has conducted several corporate trainings and leadership workshops for several organisations across diverse industries.




Dr. Mousami Padhi teaches at School of Human Resource Management, Xavier University, Bhubaneswar. She has more than 12 years of experience in academia and Industry. As a faculty in HRM, she has teaching expertise in Talent management and Employment relations. Her research interests include Gender issues, Work Family, Work Values, Neuroscience, Employment Relations etc. Dr. Mousumi’s research has been published in a number of International and National Journals of repute.




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