Taking It To The Next Level

Taking It To The Next Level

A robust performance management system helps boost the performance of its employees and the successful implementation of organisational goals.


As Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress and working together is success”. This is the simplest golden intent of every organisation working with its best assets – their human capital.


But how do we ensure consistent performance? What should be rewarded – efforts or results? Can goals be achieved only when tracked? How can organisations approach the entire Performance Management System in the future? Read on to know my take on the same.


A robust Performance Management System is critical for the growth and success of any business. The cumulative efforts in aligning organisational goals with individual aspirations is a huge task that needs to be balanced with utmost tact to ensure that we set up our people for success, thereby, contributing to our business parameters in tandem. The conventional Performance Management system has evolved over the years. However, the base framework remains the same which is to set goals at the beginning of the year, do a pit-stop mid-year, and a final evaluation by the year-end to track deviance from set goals. This also leads to rating individuals on defined pointer scales resulting in rewards for the top performers and an improvement plan for the base ones.


However, what has also evolved over the years is the mindset of our people who have been raising questions on the sanctity of the same given that every individual operates in a multi-dimensional environment, and, has different strengths/areas of opportunities. Let us deep dive a bit more.


Consistent performance is the key to business growth and can be achieved through various ways such as:–


• Continuous feedback with critical evidence rather than a bi-annual or annual conversation around the same


• Aligning business metrics to every individual’s target/KPI to maintain a balance of input v/s output


• Buy-in and transparency from both the People Manager and the Team member while setting realistic goals and not just distributing targets/Key Result Areas


• Clear linkage between performance indicators and the significances of not being on track with respect to the same 


Moving on to the next aspect as to what should be rewarded – efforts or results. Well, in my opinion, it is necessary to have the right balance of both since efforts made today might lead to results of tomorrow only when they are highlighted as strengths. It is imperative to keep acknowledging good work by way of efforts to ensure the morale of our people is boosted continuously. While results can be quantified and rewarded accordingly, efforts can also be rewarded by way of gestures or a pat on the back. This is where instant gratification comes into picture. A well-defined reward and recognition framework ensure the right balance, thereby, promoting all the right vibes for sustainable performance.


Goals can be achieved when tracked either informally or formally. It is essential to mention goals and link them to quantifiable outcomes, thereby, promoting the commonly heard saying, “what gets measured gets done”. However, a diminutively different approach here would be to know our people slightly better in order to focus on the “how” aspect of their goals, and ensure people managers extend their complete support with regard to the same.


Moving on to the most critical question for forward thinking professionals which would be what next? How can we re-design the performance management system to suit future trends?


As Blakeley Hartfelder, Director, Gartner states, “In the future, leaders and managers will move beyond just measuring employee outcomes and consider the context in which employee outcomes are achieved - their personal goals, the circumstances in which they work, the teams to which they belong and the type of work they complete.”


I truly echo his thoughts and feel that as HR professionals we need to move beyond the standard templates and rating scales to incorporate all other aspects related to our key assets – our people. Some ways in which we can evolve the conventional framework are listed below:–


• Making the matter of performance both objective and subjective by using technology to get realtime data aligned to on-ground performance as well as take into consideration the individual challenges and the environment for achieving the said goals


• Pay for performance is not always the right approach as market reference, job evaluation, skillsets, the background of the individual also add up while making decisions pertaining to compensation or remuneration. In fact, recent findings in the cognitive sciences and the research of the Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman suggest that employees may worry excessively about increments in salary due to minor variations in ratings which may lead to frustration and further demotivation.


• Additional responsibilities taken up by individuals should be focused upon while trying to assess their contributions to business objectives such as filling in for colleagues, stepping in for a distressed peer, volunteering for a new project etc. counts a lot to ensure continuity thereby reflecting a successful performance.


• The finer aspects of a 360 degree feedback should also form a part of the new age performance assessment which often goes unnoticed as we rely on only a certain set of assessors or the Reporting Manager and Reviewing Manager to assess employee performance whereas holistic feedback helps ascertain the genuineness of the output.


• Continued focus on “why not” by the reporting manager rather than “why” – I personally feel this is the human touch to this whole scientific process we are talking about as questioning why something did not happen and trying to comprehend the underlying reasons behind it are two different things.


• Considering the value the incumbent brings to the organisation and the manner in which it contributes towards the overall work culture, acts as a feeder to fresh ideas, improves the overall work environment is also something that we should include while we assess the performance of a professional who not only brings his/her skills to work but also creates a certain aura.


If we are able to look at an approach that is flexible and be able to attract, motivate, retain our key employees our organisational goals will be achieved by default.


We have to be cognisant of the fact that we are not just dealing with humans, but with our key members of the workforce who drive or support our business parameters at all levels throughout the year despite uncertain situations, complexity and the changing dynamics of the environment. Hence, it is important to handle the emotions of employees in the right way so that it is a winwin situation for both, and the bigger picture of the organisation is intact. I love the lines I read somewhere, “Winning doesn’t always mean being first, winning means you are doing better than you have done before”.


Indeed, a futuristic, sustainable performance assessment will churn out more winners!


Meenakshree Nanda is a diversified HR professional with 11 years of rich experience in various verticals of HR. She is currently working as a Senior HRBP at DP World. She holds a dual Masters in Human Resources & Labour Law and is a Certified Facilitator, Instructional Designer, Emotional Intelligence Practitioner, and HR Analytics Professional.


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