Managers today, are laying down a novel roadmap for the future of the workplace. Most of the organizations are moving towards accommodating a minimal workforce in the physical workplace during the current times of pandemic. Managers are identifying the “potential digital workforce” from the existing manpower. However, only identifying the workforce is not enough. These telecommuters must be conveyed clear objectives and a strong performance management system must be put into place. This performance management system must take into account, all the critical indicators in assessing an employee including employee behavior at the digital workplace.
In the past organizations like Deloitte and Google started measuring employee behavior for analyzing employee performance with an objective to create a strong organizational culture that values people over products/services. Google launched “Project Oxygen” as early as in the 2000s, to distinguish high performing managers and assimilate their behaviors in the management development programs to meet organizational goals. General Motors too, built a streamlined platform where leaders could recognize employees that displayed behaviors that aligned with a series of identified General Motors behavior. Leaders could recognize employees who don’t report to them as well- thus, creating a strong social system for feedback and a robust performance management mechanism. References can be taken from the earlier models of assessing behaviors and they can be incorporated into an online performance management tracker. The HR team, which is the critical pillar for companies to hold a firm ground in these turbulent times of a massive worldwide transition to be “Digital Ready”, needs to restructure its way of operation and re think how work needs to be done and how jobs can be reshaped by identifying these critical behavioral indicators which will be driving this transition.
The behavioral paradigm shift
Evaluation of performance must revolve around the idea that the employees are the asset of an organization. Design thinking and data driven approaches must be used to embrace the new way of organizational functioning. This is possible when we are able to assess the employees on the basis of novel behavioral indicators that can be a strong anchor in driving the smooth sail of the organization towards its goals. Here are some of the novel behavioral indicators that can serve as a catalyst in transitioning many organizations to go digital:
- Cognitive and Emotional Vigilance: We are sure most of our readers have seen the viral video of a news reporter reporting from his home as his kid barges in inside the room and the mother drags the child away. Working from home is an enormous challenge for employees where they are exposed to a lot of distractions unlike the regular workplace. It is here that the HR practitioners must give up their traditional thought process. Instead of tracking how long the employee has been “away” from the desktop, the focus must be shifted on how much the employee has challenged himself/herself. Being “digitally vigilant” by completing the assigned tasks is not sufficient. Accredit must be provided to those employees who demonstrate “cognitive and emotional vigilance” by challenging themselves and their work even in the current scenario.
- Digital Citizenship behavior: The next strategy must include banking upon the “loyal employees” who are the most proactive employees owing to their affective commitment towards the organization. The employees that show a “digital citizenship behavior” are the ones who take up tasks energetically including those that are not a part of contractual obligations.
- Digital Habituation: A key behavioral indicator in harnessing the new digital workplace and technology includes a swift and smooth adaptation to the new environment. Employees that display a boosted digital habituation are the employees who are open to learn, relearn and unlearn. These employees are demonstrating their capabilities by ensuring a quick and effortless transition to the digital workplace by rigorous learning and training.
- Digital Mentoring: The managers must measure the performance not only on the basis of individual growth, but also the team growth brought upon by the individual. Employees who have habituated themselves must also help out the peers to habituate themselves by ensuring peer connectivity and team work.
- Cultural Intelligence: Employees who display “cultural intelligence” have the ability to understand and work with people from different cultures. In today’s times, these employees will serve as a strong support system for the company by building strong relationships with the culturally different customers across the world.
These behavioral expectations must be conveyed to the employees right from the goal setting phase of the performance management system in order to provide them with clear SMART goals. However, it is only the first step towards creating a robust performance management for telecommuters.
Paving the Way
The impetus for driving a strong performance management system must come from ascertainment of business requirements, culture and the system’s integration with human resource systems. A critical step in this direction would be determining the appropriate weightages for the behvioral indicators. For example: Cultural intelligence can serve as a crucial behvioral indicator in the IT sector for companies like Accenture, Wipro, Infosys, TCS etc. where the client base is spread out across the world. With the world economy taking a downturn, it is of utmost importance that these organizations establish a good customer relationship in order to retain their customer base. “Culturally intelligent” employees can establish this connect and help these organizations to strengthen their customer base. For employees working in investment firms like Goldman Sachs, emotional and cognitive vigilance must be of paramount importance. Therefore, ensuring such a sturdy performance management system with clear goal setting will ensure that the leaders across the world will be able to recognize their employees with due consideration of all aspects of their contribution in these times of global crisis without any unconscious biases misleading them.