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The End of the Road for Calibration?

While performance management was sometimes defined as the most reviled practice in HR, calibration was often the reason behind that title; the difference being it was happening behind closed doors so not everyone even knew it existed. The intent was good, ‘let’s align on what great performance looks like, let’s ensure consistency and fairness in the evaluation of our people’. However, the reality played out very differently.

Ratings and comparison

It found itself in a pool of subjectivity, as Harvard Business Review points out, most performance evaluations are biased. Leaders often take defensive positions in backing their own people. Doing so to secure those top boxes of the rating curve, at the sacrifice of another department’s people. It also rarely required real data or objective evidence that validated a point of view. As such too, it would often end up in a subjective view of opinions, where the loudest voice was most often heard. It also had the disadvantage that the comparisons were unfair and unhelpful.

How do you compare one individual’s performance to another? particularly when specialist roles or unique responsibilities were a factor, and indeed was it even right to compare people at all. We don’t compare our children and pick out our favourite or if we do, we’d rarely go into a room to debate it! Inevitably, it ended up being a hostile uncomfortable experience for many. This led to many challenges and ultimately unfairness, the very thing it aimed to avoid. In many respects, calibration in its purest form rarely lived up to the promise.

 

‘Levelling’ and grounding the performance rating curve

As many companies exited these practices, in favour of more progressive forms of performance management, others remained with different versions of the practice. So where do we find ourselves now?

Is it time to end calibration? Or do we have an alternative to deliver on the original intent of calibration which still feels relevant? Aligning on what great performance looks like in an effort to improve the fairness and the accuracy of performance reviews. After all, if you work for a manager who has a highly optimistic view of his own team and will tend to over inflate ratings, it’s pretty unfair if you find yourself with the opposite type of leader, who will be more prone to harsh ratings and a pessimistic view of your team’s performance. These alignment sessions can and sometimes were helpful in assisting managers to work through a ‘levelling’ and a grounding on the performance rating curve.

Well, there are new answers to calibration that do live up to its original intent. Arguably, the label and much of the practice are reducing and reshaping itself as many walk away from the practice. Fortunately, new practices are emerging with a much more inspiring intent. There’s a new kid in town and thankfully it’s a far more inspiring practice than its predecessor.

 

Aligning on ‘great performance’

Sometimes named ‘Talent Days’ and sometimes ‘People Days’ have arrived and are giving managers the opportunity to align on great performance. Also aligning on sharing their thoughts and evaluating what great looks like, but with the purest of intent. Many of these days are oriented around how do we help this individual grow and accelerate their potential. The practice is simplicity itself and with wholly good intent that takes an individual’s current capability, performance and skillset and defines how to take that to the next level. Sharing with other managers thoughts, ideas and even finding cross-functional opportunities that may benefit that individual.

The practice can also lead to very tangible actions such as identifying appropriate mentors. These tangible actions also include defining clear career path opportunities and unifying around what exceptional performance looks like. While they are veering more toward the talent management category of talent reviews, we see a merging of the two practices coming together. It opens the conversation on how do we know what great performance looks like. When we see great performance, how do we accelerate the potential of that individual.

 

The new practices of performance management

As ratings and matrices take a back seat to the new practices of performance management, the good news is they are being replaced by great conversations that fulfill the original purest intent of performance management. This intent was to let people know where they stand and holding them to account for their performance. Doing so by recognising great performance and managing underperformance and aligning on what that great performance looks like.

It’s difficult to know how widespread these practices are. We have certainly seen a lot of variations of this in our client sites. Yet there is little writing material about the new practices that are emerging. One thing is for sure, the new practices are inspiring and wholeheartedly good. We see these highly welcomed by managers, who still bear the scars of the former calibration era. We say Bravo to those companies embracing the new kid on the block.

Our Tandem can help drive meaningful conversation in your organisation through our use of check-ins and other features. To find out more chat with a member of our team!

The merits of having a strong feedback culture have long been documented. The link to business performance has been proven with studies such as Zenger and Folkman.’s. The study proved those who engaged in strong feedback practices saw the top third of companies being double that of the bottom third. This including profit margin, return on investment, return on assets and return on equity. So the business case is there and multiple studies show the beneficial impact on engagement. As well as all the returns that engagement delivers. So if you are convinced by all the rich data that tells us it’s worth doing. How do you go about doing it in an effective way, that sustains long past the novelty value of an initial push?

 

Every day we get to witness companies building their feedback cultures and embedding these new habits into their organisations. Here are the 5 key differentiators that make the difference between a short-lived novelty approach to feedback to a sustainable ongoing habit that lives on and deepens in value over time.

 

Here are the 5 Key Steps:

Create a disciplined habit.

This sounds more severe than it is and it can be light, easy, and fun. Simple tactics such as ‘Feedback Fridays’ as promoted by Laura Grealish and Tamra Chandler in their brilliant book, can create consistency. These can also create an ongoing sustainable way of ensuring people build it into their Friday habits. After enough Feedback Friday communications, everyone settles into the new way of working that’s when we share feedback with each other.

 

Role modelling.

Too obvious, I know, but we have data that clearly demonstrates where managers engage in feedback, employees will follow. Not rocket science I hear you, but here’s the good bit. They not only will receive and share on feedback with others. They will engage in greater levels of peer feedback but even more excitedly they are more likely to deliver upward feedback. Yes, that’s employees brave enough to give their managers feedback. Isn’t that the holy grail of feedback! We have a client who got their role modelling so right that 94% of their employees sent upward feedback to their managers in the first month of Tandem usage.

 

Make feedback easy.

Too often initiatives are focused on how do we get people to give constructive feedback. Here’s the bad news, they won’t, upfront. They will only engage in constructive feedback if they have formerly built a habit of giving feedback. In order to deliver good constructive feedback, you need to have a bedrock of trust underlying that; otherwise, you risk destroying that relationship.

The 5:1 ratio is a well researched one and a good one for us to lean on here. If you give 5 positive feedbacks, it gives you a licence to deliver one constructive one. By the way this one works in relationships too (try it out with a spouse!) This well researched model shows that if we are delivering 5 positive feedbacks we inspire trust. We know that person appreciates and values us. So, when we go to deliver constructive feedback it’s in the context of a trusted relationship and is far more likely to be well received. So how do we make feedback easy? Start easy and positive, with little hints and tips about what great feedback looks like. There are some super new models out there to avail of.

 

The Art of Receiving Feedback is just as important as Giving.

Sometimes we focus all of our attention on helping people give feedback, but we forget that receiving feedback is just as important. Setting up the right environment to receive feedback is key. If feedback catches you at the wrong time, it can create a fight or flight reaction. Also, different profiles respond differently to feedback; introverts need to digest it before they respond so will often go quiet; extroverts will often have a more immediate reaction but can sometimes jump to a place of defensiveness before digesting it thoroughly.

 

Think about the setting.

The environment in which they receive feedback matters, catching someone unawares and pouncing feedback on them can backfire. That’s why technology is a good channel, people can leave their feedback privately. This gives the person the time to digest it before they show up for the chat or follow up conversation. That way nobody is caught unawares and they are both prepared to have that follow up at a time that they are both ready and in the right mindset to share and receive the feedback. Other helpful practices are to give training or tips on how to receive feedback graciously. There’s an art to it and we can’t take for granted that everyone instinctively knows that art.

 

Building a feedback culture isn’t an overnight journey but there are specialised methodologies you can deploy to ensure that habit builds sustainably over time. Nudging people with the right messages can really deliver you the right outcomes but be careful out there. Avoid messages such as ‘challenge yourself to get some feedback’, nobody wants that challenge (trust us we tried it in our early days, it got zero engagement). Replace it with some behavioural science nudges that motivate us to help each other and share feedback generously. There’s lots more to share but for now good luck with your feedback journeys. As the data will show the outcome is so very much worth it!

If you want to find out how Our Tandem can help build and improve your feedback culture, book a chat with a member of our team today!

We are delighted to introduce to you our new board member, Gillian Cregan. We are extremely excited to continue our message and vision of female leadership and empowerment. As a female-founded and led business, inclusivity, culture, and diversity is at the heart of our mission here at Our Tandem. It is always a pleasure to have the opportunity to work with and learn from such talented women in this space.

We had the pleasure to have a chat with Gillian. We took this chance to ask her a few questions about her past experiences in roles of leadership. She also then went into detail about the cultural values of Our Tandem and what this exciting venture entails.

Tell us about your board and leadership experiences?

I have been fortunate enough to have had over 20 years of experience in Senior Leadership roles in both financial & operational positions, local and global, in the financial services and outsource solutions industries. I have served several board positions in that time in both the executive positions of CFO, COO & 3 years of CEO in a Global Insurance Risk Management Business driving shareholder value and executing strategy. It has also been an honour to be on the CPA Ireland Council and represent my qualification and fellow members where I also chair the strategy committee.

 

What makes Our Tandem’s mission meaningful to you?

Culture is at the heart of Our Tandem’s mission and it is the most fundamental thing we need to understand in any business before embarking on any change initiative. This shows ‘how things are done around here’. Engaging employees on the change journey with you. To really want the change and understand their importance is vital. Our Tandems bottom-up goal-setting approach allows for collaborative culture.

 

How will your purpose align with the company’s shared values?

My purpose aligns strongly with Our Tandem’s core value of collaboration which builds resilience and supports creating robust solutions. This helps the strongest teams survive the most challenging environments. Better engagement and collaboration with our people results in enhanced relationships with our clients and ultimately better financial results for our business. It’s a simple equation.

 

What personal traits do you bring to the Our Tandem board?

I am bringing a strong work ethic and determination. Above all having worked in risk management for 18 years of my career, resilience. I thrive in problem-solving and creative discussions.

 

What excites you about Our Tandem’?

Our Tandem’s client-centric style does not just focus on technology it is a holistic change management approach. It puts the employee at the nucleus of the business transformation. Our Tandem helps prepare businesses for a digital transparent and agile world. In that world employees set self-purpose goals that align to Environmental, Social, and Governance issues and diligently drive their business to achieve them.

 

We look forward to working with Gillian as a member of our board. Enabling to grow Our Tandem further so we can continue to positively impact employee experiences around the world.

A rich pool of diverse leadership talent is an advantage for every organisation. It is widely recognised that women face different challenges in their careers – especially when it comes to leadership.

The Leadership Development for Women (LDFW) Programme provides women with an opportunity and a network of other female leaders. The programme also allows the women to discuss these issues in a supportive yet action-oriented environment. It highlights the value of allowing themselves the time to consider their careers and development strategically. Giving them time for reflection on their career journey and leadership style is where Our Tandem comes in!

The Challenge

The LDFW plants the seeds of leadership in the minds of the women on the course. It provides them with food for thought for the future – it is the gift that keeps on giving. An integral part of the course is self-reflection and identifying what is meaningful to each woman on the course. Another part of course is the self-discovery of how they can drive their own sense of satisfaction. Dublin City University (DCU) Business School searched for a tool which has the functionality to perform 360 surveys. They conducted this with the aim of helping the participants drive honesty and confront their predisposed ideas of themselves.

The LDFW Programme partnered with Our Tandem to facilitate the participants with a platform for them to perform their self-reflections. Using the self-reflections to then encourage the women to consider their careers in the context of their lives. In turn, helping them to develop a robust foundation to carry forward into the future.

“When we were first looking into Our Tandem, it just seemed perfect. Given that we are all online now it makes it very user friendly and it is the natural accompaniment. It is efficient, professional and user friendly and makes a tricky task very efficient” – Dr Melrona Kirrane, Programme Chair and Associate Professor of Organisational Psychology

Our Tandem has the great ability to measure how its users– employees or students – align to the overall values. Key value drivers of the course being purpose and leadership capabilities. These leadership capabilities include obtaining power, motivating others, time pressures and self-knowledge.

Results

When the students were asked about the contribution the 360-survey made towards their development and self-awareness, 86% responded the experience was positive. With 71% noting they would recommend this survey, as well as the Personal Assessment of Management and Leadership Skills (PAMS) to a friend or colleague. The results show that the Our Tandem system was beneficial to the progression of the students.

Not only were the results positive, but it enhanced the experience of the students. Almost 90% commented that the platform was easy to access and simple to nominate respondents.

All the participants thought the clarity of the briefing provided about the Personal Assessment of Management and Leadership Skills (PAMS), as well as the length, ease of use and understanding, was positive.

Conclusion

As the results prove, the implementation of the Our Tandem platform broadened the self-awareness of the women on the course.  With the new set of skills, they can continue to progress when in the workplace. Key to Ireland’s economic success is the optimising of the skills and talent of our people throughout all regions. Increasing the participation of women in entrepreneurship, leadership and senior management roles is a critical feature of this strategy. Our Tandem has a strong ESG agenda and is committed to transforming the working lives of women not just in Ireland, but around the world. Our Tandem looks forward to continuing the partnership with DCU in the future.

 

About the Course:

Drawing on the latest research from the psychology of leadership, this programme is a short, eight-day course which provides a relevant, refreshing, and contemporary approach to leadership development for women. Anchored in the organisational psychology and research-based strengths of DCU Business School along with practical experience, this programme is a unique development opportunity for women wishing to progress their careers across all sectors – Private, Public, Civil Service and Semi-state. The programme comprises 8 one day modules which run from 9.30am to 4.30pm. Click here to find out more.

One of the big questions that loom in many companies is whether to keep a rating structure in place or not. The questions don’t end with whether we should remove ratings. However, if we do remove them, what does that world look like from a compensation perspective and from a talent management perspective? Another question is how do we ensure high performance and accountability continue to take centre stage? Stories and sometimes rumours abide about how different organisations chose a path with no ratings and how it worked wonderfully well or indeed went horribly wrong.

Both options can be realities for your organisation too. The switch can be the best thing you ever did but alternatively,  it can be the worst. Those two very different outcomes are entirely dependent on how and when you implement it

Key questions to consider if you want to know if the journey to removing ratings is right for you:

  • Do you believe your managers already have effective coaching skills?
  • Are regular performance conversations currently carried out by your managers currently?
  • Do you have a rich feedback culture in your organisation? Where employees feel comfortable to seek feedback and share it generously with their peers?
  • Have you considered alternative compensation strategies?
  • Have you considered alternative approaches to talent management?

If the answer is no to any of the above, consider taking some time to reflect, before you take that step to remove ratings. If you find yourself in a position where you are answering no to two or more of the above questions, then there are some steps you can take to prepare yourself for a world without ratings.

Steps to evolving your culture so that you can have the option to remove ratings:

Step 1 on this journey is to diagnose your culture today.

Consider the readiness in your culture of adopting such practices. Are your managers ready to have conversations without the ‘crutch’ of a rating? Or do they rely on it to give signals to their people about their current levels of performance?

Step 2 is to build a feedback culture as a priority.

Continuous feedback sounds great in theory but building that practice takes time and commitment. A strong feedback culture mitigates the risks of resistance to a no rating culture. If everyone is comfortable giving and receiving feedback on a continuous basis, it’s more likely they will be comfortable living in a world without ratings.

Step 3 is to ensure that regular one to ones’ or check-ins are meaningful.

Giving managers clear guidance and an easy experience to ensure conversations aren’t just happening but are meaningful. As well as discussing and addressing performance, challenges, blockers, and achievements regularly. This will ensure that your people won’t have the same reliance on ratings.

Step 4 is to consider the implications of your reward and talent management strategies.

There is a huge amount of consideration and work to ensuring your processes are fit for a world without ratings. If you are relying on a 5-point rating model that links directly to a compensatory increase, consider reducing reliance on this in a staged approach. Many organisations have done this by initially reducing to 3 ratings, to lessen the dependence on a rating culture. Others have softened the ratings, changing the language and making it the less prominent aspect of the performance management process. This will help people move away from the primary focus on ratings and help them understand the greater value in the conversation.

Consider making market rates a stronger focus for compensation. For example, bringing discretionary levels of budget allocation down the line to the direct manager, with plenty of guidance about what’s expected. If you’re still in a 9 box grid world for talent management, you’ll need to reconsider your model. Try starting to remove the rating focus of the talent management discussions. Consider changing the approach and the conversation, moving to more people talent days, rather than a calibration focus.

Take the time to reflect on the effects the journey may have on your organisation

There’s a lot you can do to prepare for a world without ratings.  It may be helpful to consider it as a journey, rather than an event. Those who didn’t bring the same consideration to it, have left themselves with organisations not ready for the change. Many of these organisations have even reversed the decision and brought back ratings. For those who’ve been well-considered, they’ve had great success. In addition, they have seen a great reaction and a world of continuous performance conversation. This can create wider benefits, including enhanced collaboration, stronger manager and employee relationships, and greater levels of engagement.

For a hybrid environment, where these conversations may not have the ease of a face-to-face discussion, it’s a reflection point to consider whether ratings will serve us best or hinder those relationships. I suspect the answer to that will be different for every organisation. The important consideration is that you know what will fit your unique culture and its readiness to take on the approach that’s right for you.

How can Our Tandem help?

One of the Our Tandem differentiators is that the company is founded and led by HR experts. With decades of HR experience, Our Tandem not only has a first-rate performance management platform, but our expertise means we can give a unique design implementation experience, and change management assistance. To find out more how we can help you re-design your ratings structure, visit https://www.ourtandem.com/book-a-demo/ to arrange a chat.

There’s been some buzz in the HR industry lately around the benefits of a human-centric approach. However, awareness is only the first step. Managers are now left wondering how to initiate a shift towards human-focused HR strategies.

With that in mind, we want to share 5 practical steps you can take to shift your HR strategy towards a human-centric approach.

Reconsider the idea of ‘employee experience’

This recent steer towards human-centric HR practices is about getting back to the bare bones of HR: human beings, the people behind your business. Paying attention to the human side of Human Resources means replacing terms like ‘employee experience’ with ‘people experience’ because your employees are exactly that; people. We all have our own individual motivations, struggles, and experiences – if you want to get the most from your employees, it’s important to be in tune with the individuals you’re managing. Understanding their wants, needs and experiences is important.

There are endless benefits to making your people experience a key factor in your performance management strategy. Our Tandem offers the opportunity to achieve a culture of continuous development. Our platform makes it easy to set different types of goals: personal goals, wellbeing goals and development goals. This allows you to cover all bases when it comes to managing and your people. A strong HR strategy centers on getting the right balance of human-centric and business-focused leadership. Concentrating on improving employee experience, can contribute to a healthy balance.

Get managers on board

To implement these changes as smoothly as possible, it’s vital that you get everyone on the same page. This will be key to the successful pivot towards a human-centric approach and here’s why:

Many HR professionals are concerned with how they can make sure their managers effectively roll out new practices. The first course of action is usually to send them on a leadership course. This can unfortunately be a fruitless effort in many cases. Getting managers on board means getting them aligned with new approaches on a more meaningful level. In addition, it’s important to inform them of the reasons behind these new approaches. Managers must believe in the benefits of introducing new ways of doing things. They must have a clear and full understanding of this new workplace culture and how it can be accomplished. It is important to develop the managers’ coaching skills, having the ability to find their employees’ potential and bring it to light. A tool such as Our Tandem acts as the ‘coach in your pocket’ – giving managers helpful discussion points for check-ins, feedback reminders to guide managers through. Managers are leaders and are therefore at the forefront of any cultural changes within your business. Managers need the support, tools, and information to enable the successful implementation of these improvements.

Empower your employees with improved self-awareness

Helping employees improve their self-awareness can do wonders for their development. The best approach here is to ensure that your employees are receiving continuous feedback from peers and managers. They should also be able to efficiently request feedback from their peers and from cross-functional teams. In other words, a 360-feedback system is a solution. Frequent feedback is valuable in several ways: it gives the employee a heightened sense of self-awareness while providing HR with an abundance of useful data and analytics. This data can give you a better idea of how your people are doing, allowing you to fine-tune your processes to provide a better experience for employees.

Improving feedback processes can enable the employee, giving them a greater sense of satisfaction. Our Tandem makes this method easy by giving your employees access to a 360 feedback survey.

Acknowledge the role of empathy in your people management strategy

If you want to shift towards a human-centric approach to people management, start with empathy. Empathy can be a fundamental factor in designing your strategy. Managing people isn’t just about overseeing work and keeping everything ticking over to a sufficient standard. It’s also about asking questions, engaging your people in communication, and identifying what motivates them. Start small by checking in, asking your employees how they are, and work from there.

It’s impossible to give your employees the support they need without knowing what issues they’re facing. Ask your employees directly what you can do for them, to help them thrive. This can be done via employee satisfaction surveys or with a platform such as Our Tandem where communication between managers, HR, and employees is easier than ever.

Measure the employee experience

Speaking of data and analytics, understanding the needs and wants of your people is paramount. As well as this, it is also crucial to measure the employee experience as a whole – rather than just a ‘moment in time’ engagement score delivered by a pulse survey.  Measuring through We now have the opportunity to measure different persona journeys in the organisation, therefore measuring the employee experience on a deeper level.

This kind of information can allow you to shape a workplace culture that drives your people to do their very best work.  Our Tandem can help you gather the right information to understand your employees on a human level. Aside from the numbers, you can aim to do the following:

  • Find out about their wants by asking directly. Engage employees in an open dialogue and let them know that you want to hear what they have to say.
  • Consider their needs by identifying shortcomings in your current approaches. Again, communication is key here. Feedback can help you identify and meet these needs.
  • Gauge their expectations by openly discussing their goals, their progress, and their experience so far.
A human-focused strategy a nutshell

There are plenty of small steps you can take to gradually move towards this kind of system but here’s what we believe defines a human-centric strategy:

  • Focus on creating better human experiences for your people.
  • Empower and enable your people with a consistent 360 approach to feedback.
  • Give them the opportunity to share their views and opinions through meaningful conversations.
  • Give you people real opportunities to heighten their self-awareness so that they can begin their journey to development, finding their potential and best self.

Our Tandem is here to help you move forward with humanising your workplace. Real change begins with the right tools. With Our Tandem, you can engage and empower your employees in a meaningful way. Deepen trust between managers and your employees. Provide a platform that allows for ongoing feedback, meaningful conversations, and customised goal setting. Enhance the employee experience and change your workplace culture for the better. Book your free, no-strings-attached demo today and find out what Our Tandem can do for you and your people.

It’s no secret that getting your employees on board with your goals and values can enable greater success within a business. But what’s the best approach to achieving this? Well, it can be said that challenging traditional ‘system-focused methods of performance management and gearing towards people-focused management styles is the answer.

In a recent Forbes article, Srikant Chellappa proposes a ‘superior alternative’ to traditional forms of people management. He believes that ‘People Enablement’ is the way forward. According to Chelleppa, this approach is built on trust, alignment, and support; and with recent changes in the workplace, it’s more important than ever before.  

Why lean towards a people-centric approach to performance management?

When we are connected remotely, outside of an office situation, micromanaging can damage employee morale and productivity. It’s better to get ahead of the curve with developing systems, processes, and a culture that reflects the modern workplace. This can help employees feel enabled leading them to become more engaged in their work as disengagement is often the result of insufficient performance management practices.

That’s exactly why managers are leaning towards a human-centric approach to performance management. Some of the core aspects of a people-centric approach include building authentic relationships with your people, prioritising employee wellbeing, regularly checking in, providing support and coaching, and recognition over rewards.

The idea of a ‘top-down approach to managing employee performance is becoming somewhat outdated as businesses evolve. Some believe that top-down management practices are necessary when setting clear goals and expectations, but they can leave employees feeling powerless. This in turn can lead to a lack of motivation. What’s more, modern practices enable the same level of clear goal-setting without relying on a top-down management style.

For instance, letting people take control of managing their performance can be beneficial in several ways. The results are astonishing when employees are given constructive guidance from managers, as well as HR being an enabler for positive change and the achievement of goals.

This method can encourage learning and growth, enabling each employee to realise their full potential individually and as a key contributor to the company. The challenge often lies in putting an adequate system in place to make this happen. This is where performance management systems such as Our Tandem can help. Our platform allows for an intuitive experience, it’s easy-to-use meaning people need limited guidance. It provides a seamless end-to-end experience that provides a foundation for a people-focused performance management system.

System-focused vs people-focused performance management: a comparison

To further illustrate the differences between a people-focused and a system-focused approach, let’s look at two workplace scenarios.

In scenario A, an employee is briefed on projects and tasks that must be completed. They struggle to complete the work to a sufficient standard. The employee feels that certain changes could improve the way they do things. The employee feels that certain changes could improve the way they do things. They feel there is little point in trying to communicate this to their manager as it could be difficult to get their time and attention. The employee may also believe their feelings aren’t taken seriously. They become frustrated and increasingly disengaged from their work overtime.

In this scenario, there is little or no communication between the employee and their manager regarding their performance or how they feel about their systems and processes. They are not getting the support they need. On completion of the task, they once again return to the same cycle feeling discouraged and frustrated.

In scenario B, the employee is briefed on the projects and tasks they must complete. After a while, the employee is struggling to meet deadlines. They notice that there are certain aspects of their processes that could be improved. The employee reaches out to a manager through their performance management system, such as Our Tandem. The manager and employee then engage in a two-way stream of conversation. The manager and the employee efficiently discuss their options. The employee feels empowered and is happy being heard. The quality of their work improves as a result of feeling at ease. 

What can be taken from this example is the understanding that a working relationship with those you manage is a relationship after all. Any strong relationship involves adequate communication. In a work scenario, sometimes all that’s missing is a vehicle through which the employee and their manager can easily communicate.

So what are some of the benefits of a people-focused system?
  • It can help employees align with broader company goals.
  • It increases the likelihood that employees will feel like they have a greater purpose within an organisation.
  • A people-focused approach makes being managed a more enjoyable experience.
  • It means focusing on nurturing talents which can lead to a higher standard of work.
  • The focus on a two-way stream of conversation can be beneficial for managers providing feedback and for employees who need support.
How Our Tandem supports a people-focused system

Our Tandem gives employees the chance to engage managers and HR in an open dialogue. It opens up a support network for the employee. It allows us to move away from a somewhat mechanical system towards a humanised workplace where communication is key.

When we fail to recognise employees as human beings, they may be left feeling detached from their work. When it comes to humanising performance management, it’s almost crucial that employees participate as much as possible. It should be the case that employees have a desire to engage with their managers and HR so that the process can be streamlined, supporting the employee in reaching their fullest potential. When we engage and entrust employees, it legitimises their capabilities, driving them to succeed: an empowered employee is a valuable employee. 

It seems that the modernisation of performance management goes hand-in-hand with the idea of humanising the workplace. When performance management systems are designed for human beings, it improves the employee experience and engagement, driving better results. What’s good for the employee as an individual, is good for the business – and Our Tandem is there to help you put your people first.

Want to find out how Our Tandem can bring value to your organisation?  Book a no-strings-attached chat today.

The misconception that employee experience is separate from performance management

There is no doubt that there has been a traditional assumption that employee experience and performance management don’t form a perfect harmony. The inflection in a co-worker’s voice when mentioning that they had a performance review generally serves as its own evidence of just how frequent this perception is. That such occasions are something that are expected to be endured, to be suffered through, and to need to recover from – damaging the employee experience. This belief that employee experience and performance management are naturally at odds with each other is rarely questioned. And it is true that for as long as we can remember it had simply become culturally accepted that these two concepts lived in separate worlds and not sure they would ever have seen themselves as friends.

Performance Management is finally recognising its role in employee experience

Despite those archaic perceptions, the world has now changed. And performance management is arguably forming the biggest agenda in employee experience today. And it makes more sense to acknowledge that, performance management has always formed part of your employees’ experience, although most often it has been a poor one. When considering an employee’s experience, we instead often look at the isolated activities in HR, the pulse survey, the perks, the office environment, the social aspects, and the health and wellbeing activities. While these aspects are certainly noticed by employees and in many cases highly valued, they are still not the sum of employee experience. It is highly unliklely that employees see these things in isolation.

Employee Experience needs to be at a personal level

For our people, it all boils down to the personal level. Whether we are aware of it or not, we often ask ourselves questions to determine how valued we feel. And this is shown most powerfully and effectively through company management embodying a better and more heartfelt human-centered connection. We may ask ourselves ‘how am I treated?’ ‘how well am I managed’, ‘how frequently do I receive constructive feedback’, ‘how frequently do we speak about my career, aspirations, strengths, development gaps and ultimately my performance?’. Each of these moments are crucial to shaping the employee experience, and thus their sense of connection within the performance management process in the first place. They are no doubt the defining impact moments of the year and are more likely the ones that will truly be remembered by employees.

These moments are most memorable simply because they were what had the highest impact on their experience.

Employee experience matters in Performance Management Practices

It is hard to argue against the reality that performance management practices impact how an employee feels. So why do we try to separate the two philosophically, and in practice? And how do we really marry these two seemingly antagonistic concepts? If we are to truly consider our employees’ experience, then making every one of these moments truly count in must be a priority. Questions like “how often do I receive feedback”, “how do I learn more about myself?”, “what does my journey of self-discovery look like in showing me what my real strengths and development needs are?” are a pivotal part of the litmus tests an employee will use to assess their experience. They will be looking to a company to find the answers to those questions.

High touch impacts employee experience in performance management. Weaving high touch moments into your company’s performance management processes has the power to dramatically transform every employee’s experience. Whilst also to build collaboration, genuine engagement and drive a true sense of purpose within the company. Not only will the end goal itself become clearer, but employees will also have a greater sense of motivation. Knowing the organisation also cares about their welfare and growth. So  perhaps now is time to think about how you can make the two concepts work in tandem and see the power their marriage produces.

Designed ensure you have a performance management platform that optimises the employee experience with Our Tandem. Integrating with core ERP systems and Outlook 365, Our Tandem is a seamless experience that puts the user first. Our onboarding program is straightforward, and you’ll get all the support you need throughout the implementation journey. So are you ready to reboot your performance management strategy? Get in touch today to book a demo today.

Do you feel it’s time to change things up with how you handle performance management? With the traditional work environment rapidly developing, it’s important to be dynamic when it comes to how we manage people. As the work situation has transformed – particularly since the events of 2020 – businesses have been forced to adapt in all departments.

It seems that while some managers embrace these changes, others are reluctant to acknowledge a need for the modernisation of HR practices. We’ve all come across managers who are reluctant to move out of their comfort zone. But those who stick with traditional methods (because that’s what they’re familiar with) may be unknowingly holding employees back from reaching their full potential.

In a recent episode of Our Tandem Talks, we spoke with thought leader Tamra Chandler. Tamra shared her insight on managing people in an ever-evolving work environment. During this webinar, we wanted to address the key factors holding people back from changing their performance management – so we asked our audience. Our poll pointed to the following three issues being the most prominent:

  • A lack of executive support.
  • A lack of manager trust.
  • The debate for rewards without ratings.

Now, let’s look at these reasons in further detail: 

Lack of executive support

A common reason holding people back from changing their Performance Management is a lack of executive support. Uprooting a familiar system will more than likely require some level of investment. Leaders may not always see the true value in undertaking a project of this scale. While there are obvious benefits to making changes, it can be difficult to nudge them forward.

This is one reason why there needs to be more open dialogue around introducing new ways of doing things. If you want to see real progress within your business, it should be an environment where new ideas are given space to grow. People should feel comfortable broaching the subject of rolling out new practices. We shouldn’t be left assuming that managers are generally unwilling to try new things. That way people don’t fear approaching managers with ideas. These days, embracing innovation can be a crucial factor in the long-term development of a business.

Manager trust

HR needs to take action to ensure that people feel confident in their managers. It’s not just about putting managers on leadership training anymore. Managers need to act as a coach, giving the right tips and advice at the right time.

People need to trust in their managers and it’s important that they feel like their managers are accessible. Managers should focus on laying the groundwork for openness and honesty in feedback practices. For instance, Our Tandem can provide tools to easily check-in with employees. There’s even a dashboard where you can conveniently view any feedback an employee has been given from other colleagues. This is the kind of modernisation that allows for greater manager trust.

Rewards without ratings

Traditionally, ratings have been used to assess employee performance however the audience results at our recent webinar show many would like to reward without ratings, and that there is great understanding that a people-orientated approach could be just the thing needed to drive ambition in employees. Albeit ratings are still a common and crucial factor in many organisations’ performance management strategies, here are some alternative methods of evaluating performance:

  • Regular performance check-ins that ensure moments of accountability. Often these check-ins can still draw a line in the sand about how you’re performing, without the conclusion of a rating.
  • Express approval and gratitude when it’s due. Encourage employees at all levels to speak up when they believe someone deserves it. People want to be recognised for their hard work and when they are, it drives them to do better.
  • Change the way you think about feedback. Don’t just deliver feedback, make it so that you request feedback too. Substantial and honest feedback from employees can be extremely beneficial from a management perspective. Request feedback frequently so that you can keep improving and moving forward.
  • Drive a ‘lighter styled’ rating if you still want some form of clear tracking. We see a softening of the language in rating systems and fewer ratings, designed to informalise the review, in favour of a more human-centric approach.

The importance of implementing changes in performance management

As you can see, there are countless benefits of re-evaluating how well your current system is really working. It’s important to make sure your performance management is modernised for the hybrid workplace we face into. Our lives have been somewhat upended, both in a work context and within our personal lives. The need to reboot performance management is more prominent than ever. We need to have a means of checking in with people, we need a means of managing performance that nurtures people’s talents. It’s important at times like these, that people feel comfortable to open up – particularly in situations where feedback is involved.

By modernising your methods, you can ensure that employees prosper at work. Our Tandem provides a means of doing just that. We’re here to help you develop and change your workplace culture with the aim of improving performance. We’re offering a new performance management framework and complimentary technology that allows for a sustained approach to feedback.

Our Tandem has been designed to sit naturally in the flow of your work, integrating with core HR systems, Microsoft Outlook and your ERP systems. Our onboarding program is straightforward, and you’ll get all the support you need throughout the implementation journey. So are you ready to reboot your performance management strategy? Get in touch today to book a demo today.

As one of Europe’s most dynamic young business schools, Dublin City University (DCU) Business School places innovation at the heart of learning. John McMackin, Assistant Professor with the Work, Psychology and Strategy Group at DCU Business School, and Chair of the School’s MSc in Talent, Leadership, and HR Strategy programme shares how Our Tandem helps to enhance Executive MBA students’ development journey of self-awareness.

Why Our Tandem – Summary

  • Structured Support – Our Tandem is the enabler for change, giving students the toolkit to focus on their development and personal journey.
  • Detailed analytical reports – understanding the importance of data, Our Tandem allows the DCU Executive MBA team to have a single view of their cohort, providing an understandable, clear analysis of the students’ survey results.
  • Ongoing development and partnership approach – caring about the students’ ongoing development, Our Tandem has a unique partnership approach that ensures success.
  • Partnership with WorkMatters – Our Tandem’s partnership with WorkMatters meant the surveys included a personal agility framework and assessment tool which guided the development journey. As well as dealing with the subject of strategic and organisational agility as part of the MBA programme, this approach enabled the DCU Executive MBA team to establish, in parallel, an exploration of the capabilities that individuals need to be personally agile – a good fit for work and career environment.

The Business Case – Overview

 The DCU Executive MBA teaching team was looking for a way to give Executive MBA students structured support and help them to develop an understanding of their personal development and growth whilst on the course and beyond.

  • They needed a solution that is so user-friendly, the students need no instruction on how to use it. Our Tandem empowers them to conduct their 360 processes and provides them with a framework for guidance.
  • Required the generation of detailed reports for students to gauge their self-assessment of soft skills so they could use them as a proof point with their organisations.

The Business Case – Detailed

The DCU Executive MBA Programme is a two-year course that aims to help students develop an understanding of the range of foundation disciplines and their potential contribution to business leadership and organisational effectiveness. The programme also focuses specifically on the key strategic drivers of sustainable growth and operational excellence. DCU were in search of a provider who could provide a solution for them to effectively measure their Executive MBA students’ development of soft skills (such as their growth mindset). This was with the aim of providing unrivalled support on their personal journey, by setting short- and long-term development goals and facilitating the students with a platform to manage their development. When the students write their final 10,000-word development journey at the end of the course, Our Tandem provides them with a record of their assessment and progression.

The Executive MBA programme works towards four value pillars – Inspiring Future Leaders, Transforming Organisations, Engaging the Enterprise, and Influencing Business in Society. DCU chose Our Tandem to use 360 surveys to assess their development against the four pillars, to ensure the students could finish the course with a clear picture of their future leadership style, how they can transfer the new skills learned to transform their organisations, and how they can impact the future society.

“Our Tandem came along and had exactly the solution we needed. With their ability to support the conduct of the 360 process, generation of detailed reports and their true consideration for ongoing development of our students” – John McMackin, DCU.

The 360 survey is used to develop self-awareness of the student’s own personal and leadership agility, deepening their emotional intelligence and enhancing their leadership behaviours. As a core element of the programme is based around emotional intelligence and self-awareness, DCU wanted to enhance the understanding of these soft skills to carry into the future of their work.

John commented: “Prior to working with Our Tandem, the students were left to conduct their self-assessment and development journey themselves. They would be encouraged to use questions on a questionnaire, recording their answers on an excel spreadsheet, but the Our Tandem platform now enables us to provide structured support in the strongest sense.”

Our Tandem also has a strong link with WorkMatters, founded by People and Leadership Consultant and Coach, Kevin Empey. WorkMatters works to help establishments and leaders with their future of work strategies and organisational agility. WorkMatters worked alongside DCU and Our Tandem to develop the content for the 360 surveys using their personal agility framework and assessment tool – a fine example of their unique partnership approach. WorkMatters have identified the research-based capabilities individuals need to be personally agile, a key capability that is also important for the changing future of the work environment.  The Tandem system was then easily configured to accommodate the assessment tool and 360 processes on their platform.

Our Tandem is therefore empowering students to develop a deeper understanding of their agility skillset and their potential contribution to future business leadership and organisational effectiveness.

To find out more about the Executive MBA at DCU, visit https://business.dcu.ie/course/executive-mba/, or book a demo with Our Tandem to learn more about how we can help your organisation.

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