COVID-19 has changed everything, with organizations remodeling every function to adapt to the changing landscape with new processes. Top leaders today agree that the performance management system should be reinvented and recalibrated for better-aligned results especially after the COVID-19 crisis. But how exactly can HR leaders make performance management more useful this year and in the years to come?
In an exclusive interaction with us, Shikha Rai, Vice President and HR Head at Canon India Private Ltd shares with us her thoughts on the new paradigms of performance and productivity management in the second year of the pandemic.
What are some of the paradigm shifts in performance management that COVID-19 has brought about?
We try to look at performance management holistically and not just as an appraisal system. In a Japanese company, it’s a long tenure that an employee looks at when he enters a company like ours. Hence the development of the employee is a very key element in our organization. And performance kind of links to it- because if he has to be in the company for long, he has to be a performing, committed individual. It’s a journey together with us.
When we look at performance management in the future, it is completely aligned with the organization’s goals. Engaging an employee in the development discussion is very important and then creating differentiation for high performers through appreciation and systems.
One measure of performance measurement is not only looking at what the person achieved but rather how he achieved it. Or as we put it your functional results and your behavioral aspects or what we simply call- the what and the how-and we give equal weightage to both. The how you do includes the effort, the approach, the innovation, the customer centricity, the team motivation, and so on.
So in COVID times, when organizations were struggling with performance management, we were ok and quite balanced with our approach. If an employee could not make sales but was still looking after his customers to keep those relations going. Or if employees were taking up cross-functional projects and were engaged with their teams; that was appreciated.
So during pandemic performance management for sales folks shifted from being results-based to behavioral and engagement based.
How should organizations define and measure productivity amid changing business priorities?
Incidentally, we did a survey with our managers during COVID times and were quite happy and surprised to see that the productivity of teams did not dip. Our salespeople were meeting their customers through video calls; IT teams were in fact more productive during that time.
So from a very traditional way of measuring productivity-which is how much was your output in the eight hours of work-we shifted to outcome-based measures-which is what all you could do irrespective of what time you sat down to work. So flexibility was a major change across companies. Hence productivity is not going to be hour-based anymore.
What are some of the practices in performance management that need to be let go in this new world of work?
I pondered over the question but there is not anything specific that we would want to let go of. Many companies are doing away with the bell curve but we have been very traditional on that and believe it’s a scientific way to do merit-based assessments.
However what we are focusing more on is engaged discussions, more communication both quality and quantity-wise, and more of innovative ways of engagement. Similarly, giving appropriate recognition is also our focus area. For example, this morning we ‘knighted’ some of our service folks because of the extraordinary efforts they put in during COVID times. These are those peripheral systems that appreciate the performance of employees.
How should HR leaders focus on making performance management more useful this year and in the years to come?
Every company during the COVID times was thinking about productivity and in the current scenario too, it’s extremely important. How does it get translated in performance management and how you bring that per person productivity in the company and accelerate it is going to be critical.
It is important to differentiate and recognize employees who are contributing to the top line and bottom line and HR has to create those differentiating factors and then communicate them.
The employee must know that if he is amping up the productivity of the company, this is the kind of differentiation he would receive.
What would be your one piece of advice to the HR fraternity when it comes to performance management for 2021?
Let’s not look at performance management as a tool. Look at the individual as a person and the organization as a holistic ecosystem supporting the development of that person.
So design frameworks and systems which help the person to excel. In order to build a performing culture, a very good link needs to be there between clear objectives and dissemination of these objectives as KPIs. Ultimately, managers need to display a good mix of care and candidness to enable a performance culture.