The global pandemic has changed the lens through which we view the world. The future of work has arrived before we expected it, with implications for both business and people. It has brought into the spotlight attributes such as humility, empathy, and resilience. More than ever, businesses are under pressure to stay ahead of the game by being innovative and agile.
Managing performance in a virtual set up is an evolving topic and an area of ongoing research. However, over the last year, as people have been forced into working remotely, it has become increasingly clear that managing performance in the new normal requires the right blend of art and science.
Outlined below are four factors influencing the way performance is managed in a virtual world.
Anchoring around Purpose
Giving people a sense of purpose and enabling everyone to maximise their potential will be critical in driving a high-performance culture. We have already embarked on this journey by redefining our mission and introducing a set of guiding principles aimed at inculcating the behaviours needed for this journey. These are ways to enable people to bring out their best and eliminate the need for micro-management, even when people are working remotely. Our philosophy of trust and freedom, coupled with accountability towards customers, is enabling us to create a strong foundation to build on.
Creating focus groups around specific themes, such as Customer Delight, employee experience, tech-led transformation, and community engagement, which allow people to contribute ideas that they are passionate about and witness those ideas brought to life, can be a good way to help them feel a common sense of purpose.
Leaders are one of the most vital resources when demonstrating behaviours for the rest of the group to emulate. Our senior leaders are currently undergoing a 6-month intensive program on Conscious Entrepreneurship. This journey will equip them to scale business, drive excellence, and inspire their teams to flourish while working virtually. Additionally, focusing on building the capability of frontline managers is an important means to improve their ability to collaborate; manage distributed teams; and pre-emptively identify symptoms of anxiety, burnout, and isolation.
Performance Management Process
With people working remotely, methods of tracking and managing performance need to change radically. We need to move away from performance being managed as just an annual event and focus on outcomes in shorter intervals. Avoiding using any back-end tools that track non-work activity in our teams is also important in a virtual setup. We should guide managers to conduct regular check-ins using novel performance management tools that allow people to add their activities and achievements in real time, obtain and give feedback to stakeholders, and highlight these against goals in their annual performance reviews. Managers need to discuss this modern ‘work journal’ during their catch ups, provide feedback and coaching, and record these check-ins to allow conversation continuity. This ensures people are aligned with regard to their progress, enabling more prompt course-correction and ensuring that the annual performance reviews are holistic and meaningful discussions with greater emphasis on exchanging feedback and coaching to improve performance.
Tools like Amber by Infeedo, AI chatbots can also be of importance in a virtual setup; they help HR Business Partners get regular insights into pulse and sentiment and address factors that could be limiting performance in real time.
Role of Technology and Analytics
Technology will play a crucial role in the virtual world, influencing every step in the employee life cycle. This includes hiring, onboarding, learning, recognising, rewarding, and engaging people virtually. HR partners will be required to think technology first in every aspect of the new normal workspace. Business leaders will also require data-based insights and predictive analytics to facilitate the right decision making.
With the considerable innovation in the field of science and technology in the last few decades, the next few years will be more about embarking on an inner journey—building a sense of purpose; managing consciously; and using data and technology to influence collaboration and engagement and reinvent performance management. In the end, it is leadership and teams that will separate high-performing organizations from others.