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Balancing Efficiency and Effectiveness in Performance Management Technologies

Luciana Amaro, Vice President Talent Development and Strategy, BASF

Luciana Amaro, Vice President Talent Development and Strategy, BASF

Many companies are at a crossroads today when it comes to performance management: The nature of business has transformed radically over the last 15 years, requiring employees with deeper expertise, more independent judgment, and better problem-solving skills than ever before. However, in many cases performance management hasn’t caught up – for many, it’s still a yearly ritual of evaluating, rating, and ranking performance of employees that’s time-consuming, subjective, and ultimately unhelpful.

How can we meet the realities of our businesses while making it as efficient and effective as possible? Technology is often looked to as the answer: Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends study found 70 percent of companies are changing the performance management process in their organizations. Eighty-three percent said they are seeing the quality of conversations between employees and managers improve because of process modifications, and 96 percent report their new processes are simpler and less bureaucratic.

The dirty secret, however, is that there’s no technological silver bullet that will cure your performance management problems. Technology only works if it’s tied to the specific problems you’re trying to solve:

1. Changing the perception that performance management is a bureaucratic burden that only happens once a year.

2. Connecting to your strategy to attract, retain, and develop the best talent in your company.

3. Balancing the need for effectiveness with efficiency.

Performance Management is a journey, not a destination

Many companies equate performance management with a beginning (January 1) and end (December 31), with one meeting to set objectives and another to review the progress made against them to assess what compensation should be for the coming year.

"The dirty secret, however, is that there’s no technological silver bullet that will cure your performance management problems"

Between those two points, there are 363 days of missed opportunity. Don’t wait until the end of the year to determine an employee was off track, negatively affecting company performance.

The good news is companies now realize more frequent performance discussions and calibration meetings must take place, capturing multidirectional feedback as well as related learning and coaching activities. The challenge is finding the right technology to connect the different recruitment, learning and development, coaching, and performance initiatives that take place throughout the year.

Connecting the dots before the first interview

Performance management starts with bringing in the right people to your company. Today’s leading talent acquisition teams are utilizing digital technology to reduce the amount of time recruiters take completing transactional activities and help candidates complete their applications using chatbots. In today’s hypercompetitive talent market, time is of the essence. Following that up with artificial intelligence solutions to then screen candidates in a way that captures them for the right slates means hiring managers receive the best candidates faster, reducing time to hire.

Once employees are in the door, how are we onboarding them effectively into the company, hence accelerating time to productivity and performance? It’s not just a meeting on day one with HR and their manager to sign paperwork. Companies today are creating online experiences that help employees navigate their first year with the company – helping them and their manager have the right conversations and forge the right connections at the right time, all while learning about the company and their role.

The great thing about virtual onboarding means it’s also a connection point into online courses and development opportunities available when and where employees need it. With people’s attention spans shorter than that of a goldfish, having microlearning opportunities to gain knowledge on key aspects of their roles in 5 minutes are very important – as is having an intuitive online portal enabling employees to curate their development journey by job function, and experience.

Bringing it all together in a way that is easy and intuitive

All of what I’ve talked about is pointless if it isn’t surfaced for employees and managers at the right times. Automated email, document routing, use of templates, and new workflow functions available today are making it more convenient for managers and employees to schedule and conduct performance discussions within the flow of daily work.

All of this improves effectiveness, but what about efficiency? This all creates a lot of data. Leading edge companies are seeking vendors that can create intuitive dashboards connecting data across multiple systems to have a complete view of each of their employees. They’ll be able quickly view who has left, been promoted, absenteeism, high potentials, time management, development pathways, and multidirectional feedback from others in the company. This creates more transparency and better decision making for how we manage employee performance.

Technology can help us be more efficient, but it can also help us to become smarter through greater transparency. While these are just some technology tools you should consider for your performance management programs, it’s more important to find tools that fit within the fabric of your company.

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