The New Normal, one of the most widely used words in the last couple of years. And, indeed, it is the new normal, where everything has been modified to a certain extent. In these times, the most prioritised need was to make people productive, get them the tools and resources to work, ensuring they settle in their new spaces which was executed to perfection by each of us! And the transition from WFO-WFH was seamless. Applications like MS Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, and many other collaborative tools became our meeting rooms. Phrases like 'Hope you are comfortable?', 'Hope you and your family are safe?', 'Hope you are able to do your job?' became our greeting lines and catch-up questions. Ensuring the comfort has been established in the virtual meetings, gears were slowly shifted to 'Hope your manager is talking to you?', 'Hope you are connecting with your team?', 'Hope you are taking breaks and utilising your leaves?'
And now, even though the New Normal exists, the focus is now again moving to the answers of questions such as 'How is the team’s performance?', 'Hope you are ready for the annual appraisal cycle?', 'How are you tracking the performance and productivity?'
For organisations which have technology backing them in measuring productivity and performance and can categorise it in black and white, the above questions are easy to answer. However, the majority of others may not find it easy to answer even after the involvement of digitization.
There are two types of interventions that would be required to answer the above question on performance and productivity. The first one being, Founding Blocks, that are important to lay for anyone to build and pave the way towards performance and productivity. The big three Founding Blocks are: Re-Building Connections, Employee Involvement and Learning on the Move. Coming to the second intervention, i.e., the Execution Blocks, which forms the second layer above the Founding Blocks. These are: Making it Easy to Perform and Managing Productivity with Technology. Each of these blocks is an intervention that is agile in nature, for us to keep evolving as the new normal unfolds itself every day. RELMM as I call it, the new realm in our new normal.
As social beings, we seek connections with one another, talk to someone who ensures to provide us with a safety net, who would be free from judgements, and talk to me to you and you to me. The tools enabled us to be formal and more objective in our approach where even our personal interaction spaces such as WhatsApp were taken over by office groups. Here comes the question of, “So, whom do I talk to?” where we have been included in the ship and conversations related to work or else the spotlight is on the vaccines or the new variant!
While I have thrown some light on the Re-Connection, it is essential to parallelly work on employee involvement as the second foundation block which reinforces the first one. Employee involvement is all about making team members feel that they are part of our decision-making process as well as what we do for them. Weekly surveys, Bi-weekly “Value Sessions” where team members come and share their experiences regarding where they have exhibited and lived up to our values are some initiatives we have implemented. These value sessions bring our values to life on a regular basis and enable the team members to resonate with them. Team members feel greatly involved in these sessions and it adds to a sense of pride with the firm and the brand. It very well illustrates the “Trust” factor of our new brand identity.
Employee involvement is one of the important foundation stones for assimilating a culture of performance and productivity, as it thrives on transparency and trust.
Learning on the move:
Learning has become an integral part of performance, culture and growth. Team members are looking to upskill their competencies, strengthen their capabilities, and expand their capacities to handle their day-to-day jobs as well and meet their aspirations for the future. With growth mindset being the buzz word these days, everyone is grappling with how to make learning more accessible and add variety to the same. With this, the third foundation block becomes very important – Learning on the move.
To keep learning simple, power pact and practical, Micro Learning Programs (MLP) bring in Agile Blended Learning. These programs are short, yet powerful and full of knowledge bursts. They are instructor (internal) led online modules with loads of concepts, examples related to our business and reflection points, which make them extremely interactive and highly usable. MLPs are another way of laying the foundation for a learning culture and growth mindset, which in turn supports the team members to perform better and improve productivity.
Making it easy to perform:
The first execution block is to make it easy to perform for all. In today’s world where there has been a shift from working as a team to having a collective performance and work towards a broader purpose that leads towards the success of the organisation. The rising need to collaborate internally and externally carves the success towards the customer centric approach.
Simplification and making performance measurement objectives give confidence to the team members that their performance is in their hands and not just with their managers. We train the managers on the formation of objective KPIs and how to have feed forward discussions rather than feedback discussions. In addition to this, we encourage our team members to have a dialogue around their performance on a frequent basis rather than waiting for the year-ending cycle. Every effort is made to remove the stress of measurement from the performance, even if measurement is there, it is aimed at clarity and objectivity.
Manage productivity with technology:
The second execution block is managing productivity with technology. No one wants to measure productivity the old way, most of the organisations are taking help of technology to solve this.
With the three foundation blocks of rebuilding connections, employee involvement and learning on the move, organisations would be able to handle the softer aspects of performance and productivity in the new normal. These foundation blocks ensure that the organisations have an open culture, where trust is built at every step.
While with the execution blocks of making it easy to perform and managing productivity through technology make the performance and productivity management smooth and let any of the organisations have least of the heartburns. It also enables the productivity data to be available at a click of a button. I would like to conclude by saying, “Build trust first, before you measure performance.”
This article was first published in February 2022.