Recently, I spent two days at an HR conference with a group of business and HR leaders from some of the largest organisations in the world. They discussed many different things, but one thing that resonated with me is that the role that performance management plays in engaging and developing talent needs to change. The current systems were developed decades ago and haven’t really changed. What has, is the nature of work and the expectations of employees around how they want to be managed.
Whatever way you look at it, the performance management systems we use are a way to distribute cash. Our employees understand that and the outcome of the bell-curve discussions we have just demotivate most employees. But the nature of work and of workers has changed. Today and increasingly in the future, work for employees tends to be more project-based. Organisations will need their employees to work on more cross-functional teams, to develop new and innovative ideas to serve customers better. There will be an expectation and hope that people will work on projects outside their day job and, for senior leaders, that they will join the boards of other organisations to give back to the community or broaden their experience. The latest CEO study from the Conference Board highlights that the biggest issue for CEOs across the world are concerns about human capital and they are worried about how they develop and reskill the workers of today for the future – especially as the downturn comes to an end and their top talent starts to look around for new opportunities as it surely will.
There is also a need to look for a new way to combine performance management and feedback in a way that engages employees. Employee engagement is not in a good place with seven out of ten employees who do not trust their manager and only 30% or so of employees actively engaged with their job. We cannot just assume the same ways of addressing these issues will address engagement issues. They haven’t done so far – and the world has changed.
Having led four major transformations (the kind that involve job reductions) and sat through years of demotivating performance management processes I became frustrated that there had to be a better way. I didn’t find one – so left corporate life to invent one, which we did.
As a founding director of The Talent Foundation, my starting point was that everyone has skills and talents but that most people don’t know what they are. Many people tend to find there way from one job to another by accident and only have a moment of discovery of what they are best at perhaps during a mid-life crisis (“what I should always have been doing was xxx!”).
Wouldn’t it be great to help employees understand their natural skills and talents before that happens? Maybe as part of the performance process? We are seeking to develop a tool that helps employees and organisations do exactly that. Current performance management tells you what was done – but we need to move to measure how things are done. Only then can we start to understand the potential rather than the limitations of our workforce.
Differentz – which is the tool and approach we developed, is new. It isn’t 360-degree feedback, a set of psychometrics or old school performance feedback tool. It is designed to tell you and your employees what each employee is naturally best at (hard skills, soft skills and anything unique about them) and we believe brings together a new way to manage and engage your top resources – whether they be the top 300 leaders or your project/knowledge workers.
We are looking to share our knowledge with leaders interested in finding a better way and to pilot the tool with organisations looking for a better way. If the issues here chime with you – please get in touch. I’d love to share our work with you. firstname.lastname@example.org