This Hack suggests that organisations may have more talent than they give themselves credit for right under their noses. Through the use of a self-reflective, transparent approach, using leaders as facilitators and turning traditional performance planning sessions on their ear, let's consider for a moment that employees are probably the best judges of their own talents and what they have to offer the organisation.
By creating transparency around the whole performance management and talent management process, perhaps we can enhance teamwork and productivity within organisations.
Imagine sitting at an annual talent management meeting, identifying a star performer, putting their name forward as a sure successor to their manager and one to keep an eye on... when in fact the person isn't remotely interested in the role or has other desires. Too often that list of potential stars is talked about once a year and then filed in HR's bottom draw.
Additionally, performance management systems can often result in one sided discussions where a manager imposes their view of the world on the employee. They become that time of the year that everyone dreads and isn't remotely interested in.
Often everyone participates in a performance management process because HR says they have to. Potentially managers and team leaders hold the roles they do because of their technical expertise, and they are not great at articulating the connection between output and organisational success. It's the role of the organisation to support them to do this.
How about discussions around how an individual's output actually contributes to the overall goals of the organisation. How often do these truly take place at a stategic level with front line staff and how well is that connection understood?
Too often, in business today, we are so focussed on the 'here and now problems' that we don't make time to lift our heads and star gaze for just a moment.
Finally, we need a solution to the next generation entering our workforces, their expectations from an employer and their use of social media. The bare all approach witnessed in today’s society is a new phenomenon for the more aged and traditionally private among us! However, expectations from this group of people don't sit comfortably with the traditional performance and talent management systems. These people want to know why X got that promotion. Or why as a manager you're not dealing with X's attitude? Which to be fair, are both valid questions!
Transform leaders & managers into facilitators & mentors
Have your managers and leaders understand the vision and values and what successful outcomes look like for the organisation. It seems very basic, but many managers or team leaders are unaware of the link between the performance agreements they put in place for their team and the overall vision of the organisation. Set up leadership programmes that teach managers how to articulate the vision and values and required organisational outcomes. Include mentoring components to enable managers to mentor employees through a self-discovery process. Have managers go through the same process themselves so they clearly understand what it is they are trying to acheive in their discussion with employees.
Raise emotional intelligence by starting with skill identification
Instead of annual or six montly performance reviews, set aside regular reflection time for one on one discussions (lead by Managers as mentors or coaches) about the direction of the organisation and then providing a framework for employees to identify the key skills they have to contribute to the success of the organisation, with the expectation that employees will gain a better understanding of how their contribution fits into the overall business aims.
As the organisation and process matures, it may be that these are driven by the teams themselves.
Understand Areas for Development
It’s not just about understanding the skills and strengths individuals have to offer. It’s also about people acknowledging their own areas for development as well. This translates into clear action plans for either developing the missing skillset or determining that it is not a key driver, taking a reality check in terms of whether they are in the right role, right organisation and actively seeking how to reconcile the situation.
By bridging the gap between what people know and what they do, organisations can create high performing cultures through developing programmes that focus on people knowing how to deliver great performance AND acting on that knowledge.
Once ‘Me’ is understood move to ‘We’
Once individuals within a team have a clear understanding of their own contribution, skills, areas for development and how they are taking action towards the key goals of the organisation, only then are they in a good position to move towards sharing that with their work colleagues. Moving into a team building phase at this point could be very powerful in terms of work colleagues gaining a higher understanding of what their team mates are capable of and strive for.
Through identification and publication of core skills and abilities, others in the organisation come to understand what their colleagues are able to achieve. Linking identified skills with the contributions that are made to business outputs closes the gap around ‘why am I here?’ or worse ‘why are they here?’ Transparency of this information creates a widely known and understood employee skill-base and potentially a culture of mutual respect.
Imagine the many ah-ha moments walking around a workspace and learning about the people who work within it. Or surfing the in-house ‘facebook’ site and learning about the organisation's talent pool.
Appeal to the Next Generation
By creating transparency around the skillset of an organisation’s workforce, through whatever technology, system or process an organisation chooses to utilise, businesses will be meeting some of the challenges they face as ‘generation neXt’ enters the workforce. Those scholars that are emerging through the 00’s have very different expectations around career advancement and input to a business than previous generations who have traditionally respected a more hierarchical approach and relied on their bosses to tell them how to do their work.
Isn't it just performance management?
Some of the ideas here really are just performance management techniques, nothing new there. The difference that is being posited though, is about making the process of skill, development and career aspirations transparent. It's about skilling our managers as coaches, facilitators or whatever one wishes to call them and having them there to drive discussions around contribution to overall business success and making that link to the organisation's vision for people.
It's about opening up those conversations so that everyone in the workplace can see how they, and their colleagues, are impacting on the outcomes the organisation is experiencing and making visible the powerful skills that the organisation has at their disposal.
- Managers do more than manage and instruct. They become mentors, coaches and champion the vision of the organisation, bringing the strategic focus closer to front line employees and closing the knowledge gap between what people know and what they do.
- Allowing time for self-reflection, whereby employees work on themselves and the business, rather than working ‘in’ the business creates space for thinking and that space can result in new and creative ideas and ways of doing things.
- Transparency fits with the culture of the new generations coming into the workforce who are used to sharing a lot of information about themselves.
- Gained mutual respect across the organisation and removal of barriers to understanding how each person contributes.
- Inability for people to hide behind their team mates, fake ability - accountability is the name of the game!
- Better understanding of diversity across the organisation.
- Dynamic understanding of strengths the business has to offer, resulting in the ability to react quickly & creatively.
- Project teams quickly identified and resourced.
- Aspirations of employees easily identified and known.
- No surprises internal recruitment processes.
- Demands a level of maturity (in a good way!).
- Absolute, solid, buy-in from Leaders.
- Mentoring programmes for managers as part of leadership development programmes.
- Development of a tool that suits the workplace and thorough testing.
- High quality, consistent business role out with clear timeframes.
- Really great, well constructed, communications.
This idea was influenced by the following readings, articles and books, thank you to:
- Matt Church's 'Ideas' Volume 3
- Business without Bosses - Charles C Manz/Henry P Sims Jr
- Organisational Behaviour on the Pacific Rim 3rd Edition
- Rob Fyfe, CEO Air New Zealand
- The Facebook Era - Clara Shih
- Bernie Frey, Praxxis Group & all round great guy who's giving out the marks