We are at a junction in history where the way we work might never go back to the way it was just a few months back. These disruptions have brought a series of transformations in the business landscape and compelled organizations to embrace change. At the core of these changes is how organizations manage and engage their workforce, and by extension, how performance and success in the workplace are measured.
The simple truth is that the performance management function has been under mounting pressure to go through important changes even before the COVID-19 crisis. Reports suggest that nearly half the workforce believed that annual reviews were incorrect, and only five percent of HR leaders were satisfied with the performance reviews at their organization.
Interestingly, when organizations turned to remote work, many industry leaders, including IT By Design, a market leader for providing engineering talent to IT service providers, seized the opportunity to redesign the very foundation of performance management and redefine productivity.
Continuous feedback replacing yearly appraisals
Although the number of companies using annual reviews has decreased over the years (82 percent in 2016 to 54 percent in 2019), the changes haven’t reflected the expectations of the modern-day workforce. Nearly eight in ten Gen Y employees prefer on-the-spot feedback over formal appraisal processes and 63 percent of Gen Z expects timely and constructive feedback.
It should then come as no surprise that many IT organizations are reimagining the cumbersome annual performance and appraisal process. At ITBD, for instance, performance goals are discussed and quantified on a weekly basis during EOS L10 meetings. These discussions help employees remain centered and focused on their overall goals in the organization and not lose sight of their purpose. A scorecard that helps track these goals is also updated every quarter.
Furthermore, quarterly goals for each individual are taken into account during the appraisal process. The post-appraisal meetings are conducted by managers to understand the employee expectations and perspectives. The entire performance management framework at ITBD is geared to evaluate the alignment of personal values with the company’s core H.A.P.P.Y. (humility, accountability, positivity, passion, your community) values. The end result of the process also highlights the scope for growth within the organization and how the individual can make the most of it to hone their skills.
Increased objectivity, enabled by AI-powered tools
Traditionally, appraisal frameworks have been implemented using manager-centric processes wherein reviews often depend on the manager’s memory. The result? Failure to actively track feedback and improvement leading to missed growth and recognition opportunities. Not to forget, the entire process is also subject to the unconscious biases and assumptions of team leaders and managers.
The rise of smart tools to record and analyze performance can help mitigate human biases in the appraisal process. ITBD which is well-versed with the advancements in the tech sector is deploying innovative solutions to make performance management and appraisals objective, merit-driven, transparent, and trustworthy. For instance, all employees can keep track of their goals and milestones through visualizations and timelines within the organization’s employee system. Updates and data from performance management exercises are added in real-time to ensure that employees are aware, and have access, to all information in a timely and transparent manner.
ITBD is also in the process of launching a comprehensive in-house talent management platform for its internal community members. The platform is expected to enhance the leadership, team management, and cross-departmental engagement within the organization by simplifying collaboration, optimizing processes, and reducing biases in performance management.
Assessing intangibles like initiative, innovation, and accountability
The World Economic Forum lists innovation, learning, creativity, originality and initiative, complex problem-solving, and ideation among the top soft skills that will be in demand in the near future. However, gauging and measuring the progress of such soft skills is a rather complex process, and the current management framework is not equipped to quantify abstract skills like creativity or innovation.
If IT organizations want to reap the rewards of a smart and agile workforce, they must make innovation the cornerstone of their culture and performance evaluation frameworks. When organizations reward innovation, risk-taking abilities, and initiative, they encourage employees to build their potential and succeed in more ways than one.
ITBD has an internal innovation team that is refreshed every quarter to bring together diverse individuals across departments and hierarchies. Different teams within the company are given opportunities to solve the business’ pressing innovation challenges. The best performing team eventually wins a prize that contains a mix of financial reward, course sponsorship, and a dedicated mentorship session with the company’s leadership. All the team members are recognized and acknowledged in the monthly town halls and weekly ‘Coffee with Community’ meetings for demonstrating innovation and taking ownership of outcomes.
Accounting for the remote work setting
Shifting to the remote work setting has forced organizations to reexamine the concepts of productivity and performance. As managers acknowledge that remote work is here to stay, they also realize that most traditional measures of performance were based on visibility and proximity. Thus, the need to redesign these processes has become even more urgent.
At ITBD, all employees are trusted to act in the best interests of the organization and are given the flexibility to manage their time. All managers and leaders in the organization have been trained to be compassionate and empathetic to their team members and extend them the same respect of a family member. In addition to providing COVID-19-specific support, ITBD’s ‘Wellness at Work’ program aims to cater to all aspects of employee well-being.
To make up for the lack of in-person interaction, virtual check-ins are now more frequent, communication and collaboration opportunities have been increased, and all processes have been made transparent at ITBD. Acknowledging successes and publicly celebrating wins became more important and frequent as well. Employees facing crises or at the risk of burnout are given the space and time for self-care. A social support system is forged within the workforce to promote dialogue and mutual trust.
Out-dated notions of performance and the definitions of workplace and productivity in the workplace are changing. Other than goal-oriented performance management, today, managing employee performance and productivity also boils down to what set of behavioral competencies are encouraged in a workplace. Deployment of new-age tools for performance management is helping industry leaders, including IT By Design, measure these behavioral skills and thrive on the back of their proliferation within the organizational confines.
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