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A Transformational Approach to Performance Management is in Hand

By Dan Staley, Principal, PwC


Dan Staley, Principal, PwC

The future of performance management is in the palm of your hand–literally. And it should also be in the palms of your employees. The age of the mobile device for HR is upon us and should increasingly be the go-to medium for capturing real-time employee feedback. Is that possible, you ask? Well, as they say; “There’s an app for that.”

“Mobile apps and the associated processes that accompany them improve overall employee connectivity and employee engagement”

First, let’s start with how we arrived here. I suspect that most of you are familiar with the yearly scenario of spending nights and weekends slogging through the laborious annual review process. Yet, in the end, very few employees really seem satisfied with the effort you’ve invested; most fixate only on the rating and miss the developmental opportunity or the chance for meaningful dialogue.

Many organizations are still in this once-a-year cycle. Specifically, according to PwC Saratoga benchmarks, 61 percent of companies fall into this category. To make matters worse, many of these reviews are not timely and/or only include feedback from one person. Fewer than half of the companies surveyed request feedback from peers, internal or external customers, or other matrixed organization leaders. Frequent and a wide variety of feedback is critical for resources to raise their game and to continue to align and adapt to changing business priorities. Gallup recently released a report, “Obsolete Annual Reviews”, pointing out that only 50 percent of employees strongly agree that they know what is expected at work. Antiquated performance management processes and systems are largely to blame.

This topic is also especially important to Millennials– who will soon make up over 50 percent of today’s workforce. “PwC’s NextGen: A global generational study” revealed that personal development was more important than financial reward; this generation are committed to their personal learning and development and this remains their first choice benefit from employers.

What can be done about it? There are many in the industry taking action. I can give you one example that hits very close to home. As a result of our own PwC NextGenstudy, we questioned the entire annual performance management process and asked whether we needed any of it, whether all the many process steps and goals were necessary, who was gaining value from it, and was any of it working. Employees told us they wanted real-time, frequent feedback from managers.

We decided to make significant investments to drive a culture of asking for and providing every day, in the moment coaching. Throughout the year, coaches and managers also provide frequent “snapshots” through an app that notes how an individual is progressing along our career development framework. There are no ratings. It is all about assessing where someone is in relation to their next career level, recognizing where they are ahead and helping them close any gaps that may be holding them back. The snapshots take less than five minutes to complete and they are all done on the mobile device. Visual dashboards (radar/spider charts) are available on each person for the individual and the coach to see with a swipe of the finger.

Our app is one example of how many newly refined and simplified HR processes can be deployed on mobile. Mobile apps and the associated processes that accompany them improve overall employee connectivity and employee engagement. There is still work to do for many organizations out there. In our 2015 HR Technology Survey, we asked which HR processes would be most beneficial to deploy on mobile. The number one answer was: Performance Management– with 59 percent of organizations seeing it as impactful. Yet, only 18 percent of organizations deploy their performance management process on mobile today.
There are multiple benefits of deploying on mobile. First, the user experience is often much better, driving enhanced satisfaction among users. While mobile may not have been the impetus to drive the simplification of the performance management process, it certainly has been a close ally. Organizations were already looking for ways to simplify the process and responsibilities of reviewer and reviewee, coach and coachee. Mobile’s proliferation has come at the right time offering further motivation to streamline the performance feedback and coaching process to fit within the smaller, mobile device framework. Assuming that you have streamlined your process and approach, today’s mobile performance feedback apps make it simple to set goals, sign-off on goals, track completion status and progress, request feedback, provide feedback, and rate performance (as needed). There are also capabilities built into mobile operating systems that further enhance the experience. One such example is voice to text translations that allow the reviewer to dictate feedback verbally into the device. The second big benefit is the increased timeliness of feedback given the anytime, anywhere access. Mobile apps can be accessed from home or on the road, giving the teleworker or the executive “on-the-go” the ability to keep his or her finger on the pulse of their organization’s talent. It also increases the opportunity to stay current with required reviews, feedback check-ins or sign-offs. Mobile alerts help in this area as well.

“The PwC Global CEO Survey” found executives are more concerned than ever about the availability of key skills, up from 54 percent in 2013 to 70 percent this last year. Gallup7has estimated that businesses lose $450-$550 billion annually from disengaged employees. So we know that we need to develop the skills of our employees and keep them engaged. Fixing these issues has a direct impact on the bottom line— along with building better performing teams and providing a better service for customers. Rethinking your performance management process – in the context of your overall talent eco-system– to focus on everyday development of skills and capabilities is a great starting point. Leveraging the nimbleness of mobile in your performance and development deployment is a great way to enhance the experience and drive engagement. The reality is that you are likely reading this article in CIOReview on a mobile device. The handheld is not only the future, it’s the present. We should better leverage this technological opportunity to provide our employees with the tools and our organizations the support they need and are increasingly coming to expect.

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