Article: Create a performance management culture that is flexible, and scalable: Deloitte’s Jonathan Pearce

Performance Management

Create a performance management culture that is flexible, and scalable: Deloitte’s Jonathan Pearce

"COVID-19 has laid the groundwork for organizations to consider more permanent shifts to remote or hybrid workforces. Organizations will need to update and adapt their policies and practices around talent acquisition, performance management, learning and development, compensation, rewards, etc. to meet the demands of their new workforce models."
Create a performance management culture that is flexible, and scalable: Deloitte’s Jonathan Pearce

Jonathan Pearce is a Consulting Principal at Deloitte, leading the organization’s Workforce Strategies practice. He has 20 years of experience guiding clients in executing human-centric business transformation, developing talent strategies, and better aligning workforce programs to business priorities. Jonathan advises the C-Suite on large scale initiatives to unlock new enterprise value by reshaping workforces in the context of the Future of Work.

 Jonathan leads the development of Deloitte’s partner ecosystem and technology assets to support workforce transformations. Previously, he served as the Chief Strategy Officer for Deloitte Tax where he initiated a program to bring to life the Future of Tax and unlock new business value through harnessing technology and human capabilities in innovative ways.

Jonathan has deep technical experience in workforce mobility from strategy through operations, to risk management and compliance. He frequently presents on the future of workforce mobility in a digitized world.

Here are the excerpts of the interview.

How do you see the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the future of work with COVID-19 triggering a massive shift in how and where work gets done?

Deloitte’s 2021 Global Human Capital Trends Report identified five trends to watch for in 2021 and the first among those is an increased focus on well-being. Recognizing the inextricable link among well-being, work, and our lives has led more organizations to think deeply about ways they can design well-being into work. COVID-19 has laid the groundwork for organizations to consider more permanent shifts to remote or hybrid workforces. Within that context, there will be an increased focus on well-being demonstrated by shifts in digital and physical workplaces. Organizations are investing in new technology to enable seamless collaboration across their remote, hybrid, and on-premise workers. Through all of this, organizations will need to update and adapt their policies and practices around talent acquisition, performance management, learning and development, compensation, rewards, etc. to meet the demands of their new workforce models. 

Has COVID-19 crisis transformed the role of HR? How are global talent leaders envisioning their role to adapt to changing times?

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented opportunity for HR to shape the way their enterprise competes, accesses talent, and shows up in the communities where they operate. To authentically lead, HR leaders need to reimagine their role, the outcomes they deliver, and how they operate by:

  • Sensing the community, market, and their workforce to shift to be a social enterprise.
  • Driving record speed innovation and agility through workforce development
  • Extending the enterprise with a partnership ecosystem.
  • Owning a complete and accurate view of “all-in” labor cost for the total workforce
  • Orchestrating the workforce experience to be inclusive of all talent and invigorate teaming and productivity.
  • Forecasting new and future capabilities and enabling continuous learning.
  • Reimagining work across the enterprise and in HR with digitalization and automation.
  • Leaping to a fit-for-purpose HR Operating Model to suit the enterprise.
  • Advancing the workplace to enable workforce collaboration.

How do you see the impact of COVID-19 on performance assessment and productivity management? Are organizations shifting the needle on performance management amid this uncertainty?

The societal disruption of 2020 has brought about new and complex challenges for performance management, which necessitate a more flexible ongoing approach to meet organizational and individual needs. The challenge is what was visible in terms of performance and productivity (eg. seeing someone in the workplace) has become invisible. The answer is in doubling down on a pre-COVID-19 trend of making sure performance and productivity measures are focused on outcomes, not inputs. The new business and social imperative is to create and maintain a performance management culture that is ongoing, flexible, and scalable, as well as ensures the right performance measures and methods of evaluation are being used to help individuals grow while doing meaningful work. Organizations are actively rethinking their measures of ‘productivity’ and ‘performance’ in light of COVID-19 and refining their performance assessment practices including but not limited to more agile goal setting, more real time assessments, and checking in vs. checking up on employees to create a healthy nurturing employee experience proven to improve business outcomes.

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Is this the right time and an opportunity for managers to revisit objectives or goals that might need to be adjusted in light of COVID-19? How should they do it? Because there is no proven methodology to get it right in the existing circumstances?

COVID-19 has fundamentally altered the way in which many organizations think about goals. The biggest shift we have seen has been in organizations tasking teams and individuals to focus on what matters most. There has been a concerted effort to set, measure, and reward only the most essential of priorities during this time of disruption.

Our research points to several practices that have always been critical factors in a successful performance management design, but that have become even more critical in promoting alignment and productivity in a time of uncertainty, distance, and change.

  • Establish a more agile approach to goal setting with the opportunity to revise goals in response to changing business needs.
  • Integrate more transparency into goals—and their progress—within and across teams to mitigate potential overlap and to support one another in achieving goals.
  • Recognize and reward contributions towards agreed upon goals as a means of celebrating contribution and impact.

How can companies commit to a continuous feedback culture and have clarity between assessment and development?

Companies can commit to a continuous feedback culture in the following ways: 

  • Clearly communicate the benefits of continuous coaching and feedback to all leaders in the organization. Can boost employees’ performance by as much as 27percent, increase their intent to stay by 25 percent or more, and increase their effort on the job by at 18 percent.
  • Implement ongoing check-ins between managers and employees.
  • Frame coaching as part of every manager’s primary responsibilities. 
  • Train managers to develop key coaching skills.
  • Share ongoing success stories.
  • Measure impacts of performance, engagement, and retention.
  • Measure and reward managers on the effectiveness of their coaching and feedback through upward feedback from direct reports.

Create clarity between assessment and development by clearly defining the performance dimensions that employees will be measured on and communicating what is expected in their role. Clearly define and communicate growth and development areas as non-evaluative and not tied to assessment or compensation.  

Beyond traditional performance parameters, employees today are contributing to organizations in ways including voluntary contributions beyond what their role demands of them. What’s your take on this?

Organizations have moved to more data-driven approaches to assess performance by evaluating multiple dimensions of performance, including contributions beyond what the role demands. While meeting job requirements and demonstrating critical skills and capabilities is primary, organizations are also looking to uncover how individuals are teaming and communicating with one another, supporting others’ growth and development, promoting inclusive teams, and making voluntary contributions beyond what their role demands. Organizations are creating opportunity marketplaces inside the organization via technology platforms that create a database of internal “gigs” and let workers extend their impact.  

In order to capture the impact, many organizations are implementing new forms of assessment—to create space for an individual’s contribution in areas like community and culture building, people development, recruiting, business development, or diversity, equity, and inclusion. Deloitte supports this move to more holistically measuring an individual’s impact and contribution. 

How should you measure employee performance for different types of workers? Can they have a unified system with the same metrics for remote, hybrid, floating, and other types of workers? 

Measuring performance is no longer a simple equation of tracking outputs and inputs. Rather, the new unified system of performance measurement requires shifting the focus to defining and generating work outcomes. In this system, it becomes less about the worker type – remote, hybrid, or onsite – and more about understanding the impact of each individual role. For example, an app developer may be measured not by the number of features delivered, but the actual usability of those features to the end-user. Similarly, a Human Resources professional may be measured by improving the workforce experience or satisfaction levels of a benefits program vs. number of programs developed or implemented. By focusing on such outcomes (e.g., end-user utility and/or improved experience), organizations, teams, and individuals can prioritize what’s most important and focus on simple methods of measurement.

Is employee wellness core to productivity and performance?

Incorporating employee wellness (or well-being) into work provides one of the largest opportunities to elevate what we call “the 3 Es”: work effectiveness, work efficiency, and workforce empowerment. Yet, it remains widely untapped. While many employees have experienced increased effectiveness and efficiency during the pandemic, they frequently express that it has come at the cost of well-being (distractions/lack of focus, isolation, blurred work/life balance, and increased working hours). This is concerning to many executives, given the long-term implications to health and potential burnout, both of which lead to plummeting performance. 

The good news is the well-being – performance equation can be balanced by providing clarity and choice. While no easy task, clarity can be achieved in defining team outcomes and setting measurable individual goals. Measuring work effectiveness and work efficiency can be achieved by empowering employees to decide when, where, and how they work so employees can gain the focus, flexibility, and autonomy required to bring their best selves to their work, operate at peak levels, and achieve well-being. 

Read more such stories from the February 2021 issue of our e-magazine on 'Shifting Paradigms in Performance Management'

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Topics: Performance Management, #RethinkPerformance, #HybridWorkplace

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