A different way of assessing performance and skills is needed
Reading Time of Article: 7 min
To respond to industrial change, new ways of working and demand for regular feedback from new generations, performance assessment methods need to adapt. Even though this finding was shared by HR departments at a round table dedicated to digital transformation at the HR Convention in October 2017, digital technology seems to be only the indicator of this period of change. How can we assess performance when the world is transforming at a different pace than the company?
The end of performance assessment?
In this changing world, assessment methods need to evolve towards more consistency. According to the DELOITTE survey from 2016, 49% of businesses believe that their current performance management system is “ineffective”, and 85% of organisations questioned stated their intention to change it. Out of touch with the way organisations function and the faster pace of economic and financial flows, the annual assessment is coming under fire. Some major groups, although big fans of rankings, even go as far as to get rid of annual performance appraisals all together. Microsoft, Adobe and General Electric, for example. Time- and money-consuming, assessment procedures are no longer relevant enough to appraise the added value of each individual. A few French companies have partly followed the example of the Veolia Group, which has got rid of the interview score, despite keeping the interview itself.
Demand for managerial feedback
Employees demand more feedback, recognition and visibility in their career progression. Generation Y, international profiles and women expect companies to be more transparent: the aim is to set up clear and stated assessment (and therefore evolution) criteria, over time. As a response to these personal aspirations, the annual performance appraisal interview generates frustration and stress for the assessed candidate, given that it is tied in to notions of scoring, pay and/or promotion. Management qualities will play a decisive role in this aspect of the appraisal. For the manager, the aim is to set up regular discussions for a genuine, continuous dialogue to take stock and update priorities according to the organisation’s needs and also the professional development of employees. Is a coaching stance linked to interviews solely focused on employee skills and development enough? The managerial role is changing, driven towards more coaching, team-building and quality feedback. This requires a change of mind-set, behaviour and corporate culture. Manager—and HR staff—need to be trained to deal with this change. At any rate, this change is certainly supported by employees. At GE Healthcare, the change has been supported by the introduction of a permanent, anonymous, unsolicited feedback tool which can come from any employee or manager.
Assessment in view of skills development
Even though the manager’s role will change to become more of a mentor or coach in the more or less distant future, it also induces a change of stance among senior management bodies. Executive management also expects to develop managerial and specific support practices. Will the famous saying “put the right person in the right place” be replaced by “give the right tools and learn to take the right stance at the right time”? The circle is now complete. It is necessary to precisely assess skills and potential to support individuals properly and to invest in the appropriate leverage. The mapping of each employee’s talents and added value, at managerial or board level, must be outsourced to be as objective and as precise as possible. The whole organisation is impacted by this new vision, which implies the dissemination and ownership of a new culture and a new performance- and development-driven philosophy, as well as a necessary change of tools to steer through performance differently. HR used to have one single tool at their disposal and will now have to choose the most relevant tool.
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