Six months into the crisis, it is clear that legacy metrics are misleading and insufficient for assessing work-from-home performance. They do not encompass the realities of today’s digital world. Employees are stressed, working in isolation, and trying to achieve more with less and hence their productivity needs to be measured in a better-articulated measure.
Battling pay cuts, slashed bonuses, stretched hours, employees find themselves at the receiving end of performance and rewards. They are over-burdended and wondering if their performance is being evaluated in a fair and equitable way. And organizations can do this only if they let go of their legacy methods of measuring performance and bring in clear and transparent metrics for this WFH model.
Here are some of the ways organization need to rethink performance-
Your KPIs need to change: Redefine and re-measure high performance
Recalibrating key performance indicators (KPIs) is essential to ensuring that remote work actually works and gets evaluated accordingly. And a key factor here is trust and transparency. Without these two, remote workforce monitoring may appear intrusive and exploitative. This means that companies must rehaul their data-driven dashboards to better inspire people and measure outcomes effectively. Even soft skills need to be evaluated; hence measurement needs to have a qualitative element to it. Hence redefining and re-measuring high performance may prove to be the true disruptive opportunity in the post-COVID-19 world.
Amit Malik, Chief People, Operations & Customer Services Officer, Aviva Life Insurance affirms the same and states, “Performance metrics will be more tightly linked with outcome (as opposed to effort) as remote working becomes a norm in the post COVID world. Leaders and employees have to be flexible and adopt continuous recalibration of goals and measures. For leaders- metrics will now need to necessarily track softer aspects such as the ability to respond to crisis situations, empathy, and compassion for peers and subordinates & courage to deal with and implement rapid change in addition to business results and decision making. Another important element in performance discussion will be the addition of managing risk.”
From measuring activity to measuring results
Senthil Rajagopalan, COO and President of Profit.co, an intuitive, easy to use, comprehensive, OKR tracking software, with over 1100 clients globally shares,
“When it comes to productivity and measurement, there are two types of organizations-there is one set of organizations that rigorously focus on timesheets and measurement of the number of hours, which is clearly measurement of activity. In contrast, there are companies that are much more enlightened and really focus on business outcomes, teamwork, and collaboration. What we are finding is that most companies will have to adapt to measuring results rather than activities. This is going to be a fundamental shift post-COVID-19. This will bring in a culture of transparency, with a scoreboard being available for everyone.”
While this is common in many functions such as sales but Senthil believes that now companies that want to survive and thrive will follow this wholeheartedly. Thus measurement of productivity will change from activity to results and will have a lot of focus on corporate goals and teams rather than just individuals.
Measurement needs to be flexible
While employers transparently link employee goals to business priorities, they also need to maintain a strong element of flexibility. Managers need to have e regular conversations with their employees to set priorities jointly in a changing environment. Annual goal setting now is becoming more and more irrelevant given the pace of change and need to adapt. A Mckinsey report suggests that while managers should keep ratings for the very highest—and lowest—performers but they should also celebrate the broad range of good performance. Instead of investing time and energy in making small differentiations in ratings (and pay) for those in the broad range of good performers, organizations should be focused more on having robust development conversations.
The same is averred by Emrana Sheikh Head HR – India & South Asia at Johnson & Johnson, who states, “We recognize that this year is different, with unique challenges and opportunities. Performance Management processes in such times should be designed to be simpler, flexible and on-going. Our vision at Johnson & Johnson has always been to drive a culture of high performance and meaningful development through ongoing and future-focused dialogues between employee and their managers. It’s just not what the Performance Management processes are but how of it, that defines employee experience and inspires greater performance orientation. Thus, manager capability is another aspect that we emphasize to translate it into actions.”
The opportunity in Continuous Feedback
If there is one thing that managers need to commit to seriously, it is continuous feedback. Feedback that is actionable, constructive, and trackable is what will make the WFH scenario work. Moreover, it should be transparent, data-rich, and aligned with KPIs. It should be treated as an opportunity for continuous development and progress of employees. COVID-19 has provided an opportunity to redefine the feedback experience of employees and that’s what employers should focus on to bolster performance management. Ultimately, people must be able to see that their contributions in these tough times are being recognized equitably. Thus organizations need to simplify the methods to collect key feedback, reflect on key achievements and opportunities for growth, and enabled managers to make objective decisions.
Don’t judge your employees by NPS
This is not the right time to judge your employees’ performances on NPS scores alone, given that they have no control over it in today’s environment. Businesses the world over are being plagued with supply chain issues, breakdown of systems, and customers having a bad day which could be not at all related to the experience with your company or products. Hence now is not the time to evaluate your employees solely on what external NPS scores are. Instead of NPS being a way to evaluate your employee performance, let it just be a way for customers to vent out and cool off.
Ultimately, we all know that the traditional system of measuring and compensating employees based primarily upon the number of hours worked is due for an overhaul and the coronavirus pandemic provides an opportunity to consider better, fairer alternatives. One of the biggest shifts required is a psychological shift of not judging people on the number of hours they are present. With most employees working remotely, organizations will slowly make progress towards judging people on their results and not activity. In the end, remember we are in the midst of a global pandemic and a little empathy will go a long way in bolstering employee performance, morale, and ultimately loyalty and retention.