Getting best work from current staff is one of four key people-related business challenges business leaders face. To meet the goal of “get best work” – sometimes translated to “create a high performance culture” – organizations turn to performance management practices and systems. However, these tools are largely counterproductive – both in detracting from real work getting done and demotivating staff from doing their best.
Meanwhile, the theme at Enterprise 2.0 last week was largely about “getting things done.” Whether it was (Deutsche Bank Managing Director) John Stepper’s keynote that emphasized the need to apply social collaboration tools to specific business problems – with particular focus on understanding and improving the way people work every day. Or, the increased focus on practical use cases over prior conference years. Or, the exhibition floor teeming with tools specifically designed to match today’s pace and complexity of work – tools that actually help people get work done rather than detract from it.
In many ways, this world seems so far away from HR’s performance management. A world that, to date, has been more focused on documenting the past – meeting compliance requirements, checking boxes, and manufacturing pay communications.
Indeed, the folks attending the Enterprise 2.0 conference are tasked with improving the productivity and performance of workers at their company (when I asked the question, more than 90% of the session’s 150 attendees raised their hands). However, few are involved in designing the performance management system (1 person raised her hand). This is all changing, though, as both groups seek to meet the business leader challenge of getting best work.
In my talk on Thursday, I set forth a vision of how these two worlds are coming together: a new model of performance management – one that centers on work, involves the tools featured at the conference, and has the following characteristics:
- Goals connected to work – Setting direction and regular communication of higher level goals is essential to performance success. But there is a significant disconnect between goals and actual work execution. People simply don’t update goals – it is not part of the natural flow of work. What’s missing are tools that connect what needs to be done with what is getting done. I called upon Cohuman as an example of “work prioritization.” Cohuman is a next-generation project management system, without the heaviness and rigidity of traditional projects. Instead, it is a social, transparent to do list – one that helps people and teams prioritize, collaborate on, and complete work.
I also called upon DoubleDutch as an example of linking “goals” to work via location-based services principles. Rather than tracking time or updating goals, people can check into a project/customer/etc., share documents, comment, all in the natural course of an activity stream (through their new Hyve capability).
- Ongoing feedback – Rather than documenting past performance, ongoing feedback facilitates continuous improvement and motivation. Though people generally dislike the all-at-once, anxiety-filled performance review, they do like feedback – particularly that which comes with good intentions. Two primary models contribute to successful ongoing feedback – social feedback and 1:1 feedback. Social feedback, such as thanks, kudos, impressions, and badges are transparent to all and, in addition to providing the recipient with motivation to continue exercising their strengths, gives the community an indication of who is good at what. 1:1 feedback is a private conversation loop with a trusted source. I called upon Rypple as an example of social and 1:1 feedback. Other providers, such as CornerStone OnDemand, Oracle Fusion, Saba, and SuccessFactors have introduced social feedback capabilities.
- Feedback on actual work – The stickiness and usefulness of feedback depends on how relevant it is to the work being performed. However, feedback systems and work systems are largely separate. To truly get best work, the feedback system must be directly connected to the work system (whatever that work may be). I called upon the integration between Rypple and Pivotal Tracker as an example of pushing actual work into the natural feedback loop. Next up: tying feedback prompts and loops into the work system.
Bottom line: As business leaders, HR professionals, and collaborative technology specialists increasingly focus on the business challenge of getting best work, the current performance model will transform into one that is more work-centric and embedded in the natural flow of business.
Your POV: Where do you see emerging tools augmenting or displacing current performance systems? How do you see these pieces fitting together?