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5 Ways to Build a Better Feedback Culture

The pandemic has shown us that it’s more important than ever to continuously provide valuable feedback. Whilst best practices indicate managers should have ongoing development discussions with their employees at least quarterly, or even more frequently. But the value of these discussions only happens if they are development focused and actionable. Unlocking the true value of effective feedback conversations lies in equipping managers with the right tools to help them build their own capabilities (McKinsey 2021).

It’s crucial to make employees self-sufficient. Driving ownership and accountability is key to improving the development of employees and managers. Not only that but it can empower your people, giving them a greater sense of accomplishment.

Here are 5 ways to build a feedback culture:

Create a disciplined habit

Habits don’t come overnight and are best established when putting them into a clear structure, such as having a defined moment of time when you do something. We’ve deployed the concept of ‘Feedback Fridays’ (an idea we gratefully borrowed from Tamra Chandler and Laura Grealish, who promote the concept in their fantastic book ‘Feedback and other dirty words’. Over time it becomes a norm, Friday is when we do feedback and it becomes part of the natural habits and routines of the organisation, but bringing huge benefit to a feedback starved workplace.

Role modelling

Our Tandem data proves that where managers engage in feedback, employees will follow. One Our Tandem client got their role modelling so right that 94% of their employees sent upward feedback to their managers in the first month of Our Tandem usage.

Make feedback easy

Employees will only engage in constructive feedback if they have formerly built a habit of giving feedback. To deliver good constructive feedback, you need to have a bedrock of trust underlying that; otherwise, you risk destroying that relationship. Building trust can be done through establishing our 5:1 principle. Get your managers in the habit of delivering positive feedback so they earn the licence to give the constructive feedback.

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. Feedback can be resisted or rejected when the individual isn’t yet ready to receive, or receives it out of context. Their baseline fight or flight instincts set in and they can reject the feedback, even when it’s positive. Giving them a space and time when feedback is expected or can be received in a time that suits them creates a safe space, this is where technology really plays a key role.

Think about how the feedback is landing for differing profiles

Consider the profiles in your organisation. When introverts receive feedback, they tend to want to reflect before responding. Extroverts are more likely to react immediately. Ensuring there’s space between when someone receives feedback and when they should respond can really help to build greater capability to receive and respond to feedback. Even when feedback is positive, similar to compliments some profiles are prone to rejecting it, deflecting the praise to a team effort or some other circumstances that gave them the good fortune to be in the spotlight. Help your people understand how to gratefully receive feedback, without feeling the need to respond, deflect or reject the feedback.

If you’d like to find out more about how our approach can help your organisation, contact our VP of Sales & Marketing, Sadhbh Carson on sadhbh@ourtandem.com

By Aisling Teillard, CEO & Co-Founder at Our Tandem

I often meet Heads of Performance, or Talent and their biggest challenge is to shift mindsets. Shifting a manager’s mindset to ready them for a changed world, where remote working, flexibility, and a changing dynamic to the old ways of working is more prevalent than ever. The change in the way of working hasn’t happened overnight and, in many respects, has been a long time coming. Yet their managers are still caught out by this shifting dynamic, struggling to understand how best to manage people in this new world they find themselves in.

The story repeats itself across multiple businesses in different industries and even in different countries; ‘we have a mindset challenge’. We need to move the mindset from the old ways of working and help people realise those days are gone. It’s time to embrace new ways of working that facilitate greater flexibility, the reality that remote is here to stay. Help them realise that the office is irrelevant if everyone comes in just to do their teams or zoom calls there. That we need new purpose to the office, and we need it to be a place where people connect, collaborate, and even celebrate. Inevitably that means the teams/zoom call days can be at home. Facing this new reality means changing the way we work.

None of us need convincing that technology can help transform the way we work, we’ve all experienced that over the past two years. But most of our technology interventions over the past two years have been out of necessity, urgency, and a drive to keep businesses going and people connected, even if not always ideal. However, technology can be used for much more purposeful connection, but the danger lies in thinking that technology in isolation can change cultures.

When addressing a mindset shift, we need to think broader about the challenge. What are the things that really enable the technology to drive the change? How can we ensure the technology gets adopted, embraced, and fulfils the value of its promise? The key is our approach to change management. The mistake is to think that change management is done after the initial training session.

Change management has multiple levers and using several increases its effectiveness. Role modelling, micro learning and generating excitement and engagement with ongoing communication activities all form essential parts of a good change management plan. Bringing your champions in early and bringing their ground floor influencing skills into the plan will not only help in spreading the word but give you the monitoring that can capture those all-important early signals about perception. Inspiring confidence with senior leadership engagement can bring a positioning that demonstrates the ambition and scale of the project. What will enable sustained engagement is the reinforcement of the behaviours.

When looking at your typical adoption curve to any piece of tech you will always have your early adopters who get excited with the new novelty, these people can lead the way but it’s your early majority cohort that will make the real difference. If you can reach the tipping point of bringing the early majority into the loop quickly, it will help capture the stories you need to drive the social proof points that demonstrate to the late majority or even the laggards that this is not a short-lived initiative and has captured the attention of others. In many respects we all look for those queues that everyone else is doing it so why shouldn’t I. The more of these signals we can provide, through infographics, stories, and even celebratory moments, the more we’ll bring the remaining crowd to the table. Celebrate early wins early and often and hold people accountable when not role modelling. Easier said than done but it makes all the difference.

So next time you’re sitting down to plan your technology initiative, don’t neglect your change management practices. They’ll be the tipping point to great adoption. In Tandem, we embed these change management practices into our approach and that’s why we see our clients in the platform on average up to twice per week use multiple functionalities to perform the everyday practices of performance management, where managers and grow and develop their people.

If you’d like to find out more about our approach, contact our VP of Sales & Marketing, Sadhbh Carson on sadhbh@ourtandem.com

By Liz O’Hara, Product Manager, Our Tandem.

I think I might have had a confused look on my face when my Leader Julian Perez Alzueta said to me on my first week of joining Our Tandem “have you seen our 360 product yet?  I think you’ll like it!” 360 and like….. in the same sentence?  Surely not!

Many years ago I had been ‘lucky’ enough to have the privilege of participating in a 360 development feedback process, which (due to how expensive it was to run these sessions) were normally only given to senior leadership teams.  However, as I was a in a learning and development role at the time, I was able to participate myself.

The old process was not without fault! From selecting people to participate in the survey and not knowing if they had responded for you to gain insights, made the process incredibly veiled.  As the process was usually managed by a third party with consultants trained to provide guidance, a meeting had to be scheduled with the consultant and I remember the consultant had cancelled on me 3 times due to summertime date clashes. It ended up being 3 months from the start of the survey to receiving my actual report. I also remember the meeting itself with the consultant feeling very intimidating. I had 5 minutes to read the report before the consultant provided insights on me (without actually knowing me) and then in the meeting having to create a development plan. It had all felt very hurried in the one-hour timeslot.  It was quite a lot of information to digest, and I am one of those people who likes to reflect and action plan my development options later. No wonder people had moved away from 360 development.

Then I came to Our Tandem and spent some time viewing our 360-development feedback product. 360 had been reimagined and democratised so that participation in the process could include everyone in the company. This was no longer a development tool aimed at senior leaders, as now it could include everyone. There were no third-party consultants needed to interpret the findings either. The reporting information is system aggregated and available in Our Tandem, which can be viewed on desktop, on your mobile or downloaded in advance of a development planning session. I love how interactive our online report is so that you can really deep dive on specific items. Best of all, leaders and employees have access to the same report, so there is no misinterpretation of the results. Talent Partners can also have access to the information, we have very flexible configuration and confidentiality options to suit different customer needs.

What truly opened my eyes though was some of the amazing features available. Such as the ability to identify blind spots and hidden strength, who doesn’t want to know this information?  In fact, I would go as far as saying how can you have a development plan without knowing these? The ability to undertake the same 360 development survey the following year and see if you have managed to move the dial on those blind spots using development interventions is really insightful, not only to the employee but to the leader and Talent Partners as well. When I was in learning and development, a question that was always asked of us was ‘are the interventions working?’ and now the 360-feedback tool can really provide organisational insights on this.

Ever wondered how you are perceived by your leader, peers or stakeholders? The value profile will provide you with these insights. Understanding the different perspective of how you come across or live your company values is so helpful for starting the process of facilitating change.

The heat scores are a handy way to view scoring information for the different rater groups. We have also noticed some really interesting diversity trends in this area also, where females will score themselves lower than their male counterparts. As an organisation you can start to dive-in to the data and truly measure how your interventions might be impacting diversity, equity and inclusion.

Our report also has a really nice layout for reviewing feedback comments. These comments are very focused and specific to the individual and goes further than just peer or stakeholder appreciation.  It’s constructive, to help you grow and be your best self.

Julian was wrong! I don’t like Tandem 360 – I LOVE it!  Words I thought I would never hear myself saying in the same sentence.  It’s now become one of my favourite product features.  Its DEMOCRATISED and REIMAGINED, I think you’ll LOVE it too.

Tandem 360 can also be purchased independently of other modules too. If this is something you are interested in, contact our VP of Sales & Marketing Sadhbh Carson on sadhbh@ourtandem.com for more information.

By Liz O’Hara, Product Manager, Our Tandem.

I watched in an amused mild disbelief in 2021, as I started to hear of resignations from workmates leaving Workday for new adventures. Covid had made lots of people start to reflect on their life and family situation and when I enquired about their reason for leaving, I was told it was mainly due to a change of life circumstances such as moving home; change of career direction or hobbies had become viable small businesses – the Great Resignation was in full flow!

Sure, it couldn’t be anything else, Workday was such a great place to work, I had been there myself for over 4 and half years myself and had seen the company and product grow. I worked in a great team and was always very impressed by the leadership and their commitment for employee wellbeing, especially during covid. I was compensated well and had opportunities for personal growth and development over the years, taking on many of the tough certifications across the product functional areas. I worked hard but wasn’t burnt out. Every week I received constant messages on LinkedIn for new opportunities and I ignored them all. Most of the messages I didn’t even bother to open, I just wasn’t interested. I was happy enough where I was, and I was resolute on staying.

Then, without any intentional planning, it then happened to me – I also joined the great resignation and left Workday to move to Our Tandem.  So, what changed my mind?

Firstly, when the very unexpected call came from Aisling about a new opportunity to join the team, I was curious. I had the privilege many years ago to work for the Co-founders Aisling and Clare in a previous start-up and I had seen them grow that company from less than 20 people when I joined, to over 200 people. I had also witnessed them make good on their promises to be innovative and be a market disruptor for HR Shared Services. I was impressed back then and really enjoyed being part of the technology innovation, that is still used today.

I had heard over the years that they had started a new HR Technology company; I wasn’t surprised – these founders were from a strong HR background with a strong technology vision. They are both thought leaders on talent strategy in their own rights, with an impressive following and winning many awards along the way.

During the conversations that took place with Aisling and Clare over the coming weeks, I was very impressed to hear that they had come up with a compelling disruptive product, solving many of the HR frustrations with performance and talent management that still exist today. Many of the products out there on the market have become very unified with little differentiation between the technologies and if I am honest, with very little changing in over 20 years. They themselves over the years had suffered the technology frustrations and disappointment when products had not met HR needs or gone far enough to support them with HR business issues. Yet, here they were as a relatively newish company in the market with an impressive customer base, solving HR needs using disruptive and innovative technology. This was a company set on doing things differently.  To say I was impressed is an understatement. I also loved how much they listen to their customers and supported them on their individual technology journey to be successful. This was not a company just interested in a go-live milestone, they went far beyond this.

When the offer to join them came, I jumped at the opportunity and haven’t looked back. Firstly, everyone is committed to the compelling strong vision of Our Tandem. I know everyone’s name in the company and have lots of meaningful conversations in my day, across all areas of the business from product and technology, to support and sales and marketing. Innovation and agility are very present – the ability to pivot to customer needs and solve use cases in a very short space of time is very impressive. We really are truly agile. Lastly the product itself is very different to anything out there on the market. There are features in the product that I love – something I thought I would never say for talent and performance management! Lastly, seeing and hearing the difference Our Tandem makes daily to our customer’s working lives, makes me know I have made the right decision. Aisling and Clare’s passion and vision are still as present as ever, there’s no denying that people follow strong leaders and want to be part of that team.

The evolution of diversity

There has been a striking evolution of diversity in the workplace – as it now (and rightly so) takes centre stage. As we see D&I now permeates our strategies, policies, thoughts and actions throughout almost every organisation. This includes our recruitment practices, succession planning, training, leadership effectiveness development and much more. And in the present day, the business case for diversity is stronger than ever. As McKinsey and many other studies have proven, taking a closer look at diversity winners reveals what can drive real progress (McKinsey 2019).

 

How can Performance Management encourage diversity?

The question remains, as to whether we, as HR professionals have considered how our performance management processes can influence the D&I agenda.

We often will reflect on the gender pay gap. However, we rarely discuss how this links to the performance management process and what we can modify to help. As many organisations continue to link pay to performance, the source of the issue lies firmly in the practice of not just how we compensate but how we manage performance.

 

The gender gap in self-promotion

When you consider one of the first steps in a performance management process, you often ask employees to self-assess. Most would consider this good practice, it is crucial for managers to understand the perspectives of their people. The tracking of this is paramount, as it often highlights gaps in self-promotion and how individuals communicate their performance and ability to others. Our Tandem’s data tells us that women are more likely to self-assess themselves harshly compared to their male counterparts.

Do women undersell themselves?

In a recent National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, issued in October 2019, Christine Exley and Judd Kessler, both business school professors, examine another issue that possibly contributes to these gender imbalances at work. They tested the hypothesis of whether women undersell themselves when it comes to their own self-assessments. Many workforces rely on their employees’ subjective assessments of their own skills and abilities. And most agree that a gender gap in self-promotion can seriously jeopardize a women’s career trajectories.

They put both women and men through a test that required an analytical task that answered 20 questions. To assess their confidence levels, the participants than had to indicate how many they thought they had answered correctly. Lastly, the subjects answered ‘subjective, quantitative self-assessment about their performance’. Women, despite doing better than men on average, rated themselves lower on the self-assessment questions. Alarmingly, the differences were rather striking. For example, when asked to agree with subjective statements such as “I did well on the test” on a scale of 0 to 100, men averaged a rating of 61 while women scored a mere 45.

 

Intriguingly, the authors assert that the gender gap was not a function of confidence. Even when participants were told how many questions they got right and how they fared relative to others, the gap in self-promotion persisted. Thus, despite being provided with “perfect information about their absolute and relative past performance”, women were more likely to belittle their achievement when asked to evaluate their own performance on the very same test. (Gender Equality at workplace: Promoting Self- Promotion in Women, Financial Express).

 

Don’t wait for the annual review

In reality, the problem persists long before you get to the annual review. We must consider the moments that form part of our performance conversations throughout the year. The real questions to consider through our continuous performance management:

 

  • Do our female counterparts receive feedback as often as their male counterparts? Is it likely to be growth oriented or constructive in nature?
  • Are men more likely to give constructive feedback to their male counterparts, based on a ‘man to man talk’ which doesn’t necessarily translate so easily to their female counterparts?
  • Do women have strong development conversations that facilitate them to consider interesting career moves, beyond their current role or location.

 

The source of your challenge may have started well before the gender pay gap took hold.

Personally, I know many women, including myself, where the assumption is made that because you have a family are reluctant to travel for bigger roles. The unconscious bias may be lurking beneath all your performance process, without being easily spotted. Next time you are discussing your diversity strategy and policies, take a look at your performance management practices.

 

On the upside there are answers, we can now measure these things in infinite detail. This helps us spot where the discrepancies may lie. While undoubtedly these moments that matter are never intended to segregate a woman’s experience from a man’s, the stark reality is that many of these measurable moments can tell us otherwise.

 

With Our Tandem’s rich data insights and details report giving to clients, we are able to provide actionable insights that enable HR understand and tell the narrative that matters. Understanding the differences types of diversity, to produce a performance management process that does more than just accelerate performance. It helps to create an inspiring employee experience that enables your people to unlock growth and accelerate their own potential. For more information, book a chat with a member of our team today.

The last two years have challenged us like no other in terms of how we manage our people, remotely, dispersed, and with a wholly new set of challenges that we’ve since become somewhat accustomed to. So what will the next 2 years bring and where do we evolve from here? I’ve been studying performance management trends for over 25 years now and I really believe we are on the foot of the biggest changes that we’ve seen in this space for decades.  Here are my predictions for where we are headed to:

 

It happened to performance, compensation will follow.

As more frequent performance conversations are common, the gap between compensation and recognition outcomes for achievement and end of project/task accomplishment widens. It is important for leaders to “understand the basic elements of compensation and ways to link it to desired outcomes” (Harvard Business Review, 2021). There will be pressure to become increasingly innovative about compensation and recognition practices, to accompany the new trends in performance. End of project or task recognition and/or bonuses are increasingly common and this trend will accelerate. So if your compensation and recognition programme people aren’t talking yet or still thinking in annual terms, get them together quickly! They’ll need to integrate their plans to really make this effective.

 

Teams will dominate the discussion.

The 90’s were all about the Superstars, individuals that brought exceptional success to what they did. Society at large celebrated unique individuals that stood out. Now we see society shift its focus to teams, those teams that work together brilliantly to find success. I believe organisations will follow this trend and many already have. This will translate into greater focus on team goals, team achievement, and team success. Getting organised around team goals and rewards will serve you well. Working effectively in a team is the new superstar!

 

Connection will become increasingly important.

For a long time, there were discussions of bringing your ‘whole self’ to work and celebrating the diversity of who you are in the workplace. The ‘whole self’, whether we wanted it or not arrived over the past 2 years. Now that changes the conversation. We are now dealing with the ‘whole self’ issues as we face one-to-ones and check-in conversations. Connection will become increasingly important to overcome feelings of isolation, weariness and other ‘whole self’ challenges that people will increasingly open up about. Our managers will need to be equipped to coach and manage their people. This will be not just through work activities, but with respect to mental health challenges, work/life balance boundaries, and many other ‘whole self’ discussions. It will open up the individual to articulate how they are really feeling. These are not simple conversations and our managers are not therapists. They’ll need support on how to effectively navigate these conversations and keep their teams connected and motivated. Coaching tips and capabilities for our leaders and frontline managers will be key.

 

Feedback will evolve, from real-time, crowdsourced into insightful understanding of oneself.

The starting point for growth of an individual is an understanding of where you can grow, which strengths can you enhance and accelerate. And not just strengths but also which development needs can you address. It won’t be enough to just receive feedback in the moment. Talent will increasingly look for how that serves them opportunities for growth. The individual growth journey will become key in retaining and motivating your people. Evolving your feedback practices to provide insight to your people so that they can generate a greater understanding of themselves will return its own rewards.

 

Talent won the war a long time ago and the great resignation is continuously tempting them with newer pastures.

We will need to continually recognise the achievements and milestones of both individuals and teams in shorter-term sprints. As such, development conversations and career path milestones will need to shorten. We can’t facilitate continually promoting people so new innovative means of defining out the career path journey and provide new opportunities will become increasingly important. This will be coupled with recognition and achievement oriented initiatives, bringing together the practices of Continuous Performance Management.

 

 

No doubt, some organisations will organise quicker around some of these trends than others. One thing I’ve learned about performance management over the years is that everyone likes to do it their own way. So for some organisations they won’t realise these trends into reality for another few years, but they are already here and well established with many progressive organisations. How we innovate around them will define our success from here. Exciting times! This is the beginning of a seismic shift in how we think about and address performance and our working cultures.

As Halloween is over, Strictly Come Dancing has started and the nights are drawing in, it can only mean that it’s the time for end-of-year reviews to take centre stage. As HR professionals, this is where we see the good, the bad, and the ugly with the review process. The end-of-year review has been hotly debated and is possibly the most criticised aspect of performance management. However, it is still the most widely used practice of performance management. So, let’s unpick why it remains the cornerstone of the Performance Management process and how we can bring out the great in its purpose.

 

The Godfather of HR, David Ulrich references the concept of Positive Performance Accountability to resolve the performance management paradox. A SHRM survey found that 90% are dissatisfied with appraisal systems and only 55% of HR professionals felt that the annual performance reviews are an accurate appraisal for employees’ work (Ulrich, 2019). The concept of Positive Performance Accountability may have been slightly neglected in his favour of Dave Ulrich’s other great work. However, it is one of the most powerful concepts for us to consider in our Performance Management frameworks.

Recently, Dave Ulrich suggested that while the old days of uninspiring ratings and stack ranking may be over, there is still a real place for people to know where they stand. Talking about the transparency and accountability that means we are clear on how we’re doing. The end-of-year review is the ideal place to do that. But perhaps there’s so much more to it than even that.

 

A time for reflection

The end of the year is a time of reflection. A time to take a step back and consider what went well for you – and what not so well. This is such a human moment of reflection to consider where we were at our best, what brings out the best for us. What environment, what type of work, and what way of working helps us be at our best. Exploring all of this gives us signposting to where our strengths lie and how we can bring out the best in ourselves. Equally, where did we believe we had some gaps and what does that mean for our future development.

What hasn’t inspired us as humans, and a topic that often gets criticised is the application of ratings. Including the uninspiring titles and the idea that after a hard year’s work, commitment and dedication, someone labels you as ‘fully meeting expectations’ or something akin to that. Agreed, you’ll hardly run home to your partner to tell them your good news of how you fully met expectations. And let’s face it, 70-80% of your organisation face that scenario. However, unravelling ratings isn’t as easy as it looks and it’s not for every organisation.

 

Consider the implications of removing ratings

There are countless examples of organisations that have removed ratings and suffered poor consequences, and it can be particularly damning if you trigger too early. If you are on a journey to remove ratings, consider the compensation and talent management implications. It’s surprising how many organisations rushed into the removal of ratings. Doing so without considering the impact on the other key HR processes. And that’s before we meet the employee relations team, where this can be built into works council agreements and in some cases contractual commitments with employees. Having said that, many organisations have removed ratings successfully and seen huge benefits from it. Including increased collaboration, greater levels of engagement, and a more high trust environment.

 

Committing to a world without ratings

As former HR professionals and creators of a progressive performance management platform, we hear client and organisational needs every day. Here’s our advice: if you are on a journey to remove ratings, build up the maturity of your organisation so that they no longer even want ratings and they feel ready for a world without ratings. This is not an overnight journey and needs commitment to the following:

  • Building a sustainable feedback culture. If your employees have regular feedback, there’s less need for the crutch of ratings and labels
  • Help managers navigate high-quality check-in conversations. It’s not enough to ask managers to have regular one to one’s with their people. We need to help them have the right quality of conversation to build those trusted relationships.
  • Introduce performance check-ins. Performance check-ins are a softer form of review. They facilitate frequent moments of check-in without the burden of a full performance review. Living up to David Ulrich’s positive performance accountability concept.
  • Take a longer-term view of phasing out. If you are on a 5-point rating scale, move to a 3-point rating scale, with a longer-term view of phasing it out. It helps get managers used to less reliance on rating scales to have good performance conversations.

When you have hit a culture of regular sustainable feedback practices, frequent and high-quality conversations, you’re ready to review your compensation and talent management practices.

 

What steps can you take next?

At this point, you can start to change the compensation structures in a phased way. It doesn’t have to be a big bang, you can gradually lessen the reliance on a direct link with ratings. But compensation strategy is a whole other blog! You’ll also need to ensure your talent management practices don’t have a direct link to ratings. But again, another blog!

In essence, it’s not an easy journey to remove ratings and it’s certainly not right for every organisation. Some cultures really shouldn’t take this step. But if you believe it’s the right move for your culture, it’s a very doable and exciting journey for you to take on. To find out how other Our Tandem clients have progressed on this journey, please feel free to book a chat with a member of our team.

“It’s a new dawn, a new day” …anyone singing yet? Have these infamous lines ever been more true; they certainly are true of our newly discovered working world. With the great resignation looming, we are forced to rethink what our employees really want of us. Hybrid working may be top of the list but with that come a whole new set of expectations, that fit with our new ways of working. Should we embrace hybrid working on a longer-term basis? We also have to face a new reality that we need to change the way we manage people. So many of our practices are rooted in a time from another era. None of those more so than our performance management strategies and practices.

 

The new age of performance management

A lot of what we work with today in performance management is rooted in the 1980’s and 1990’s philosophy. This was a time when we all went to the office and met our (singular) boss. We also met in person for our team meetings and our after-work socialising. With a breakdown of those traditional ways, we now are more likely to meet our multiple bosses over teams or other collaboration tools. We are likely to attend the office infrequently and after-work socialising is likely to lose the spontaneity that it once held.

The importance of check-ins and conversations post-pandemic

Our new ways of working bring with it, not only a change to how we work but our expectations in how we’re managed. There’s not ‘a one size fits all’ right for every culture out there. However, getting to know your employees’ expectations is key. Surveys and focus groups may help. Yet, the true reality of what individuals want is more likely to be set in one-to-one individualised check-ins. Where employees can truly express what they need from their managers. Post pandemic the “only viable management style going forward will be ongoing coaching conversations that establish a rhythm of collaboration.” Gallup. Doing so in order to be successful in this new version of working, which can often feel like a brand new social experiment. However, we can’t hope these conversations just surface and that our managers have magically all the answers.

We need to help our managers navigate these conversations with new tools to support a very new conversation. That’s why we are seeing a rise in navigated conversations. These prompted with input from HR to help Managers pose the right set of questions, to truly understand the new expectations of their employees. Dedicated check-ins focusing on ways of working, well-being, and development in this very new unchartered waters.

 

The effect of the pandemic on our expectations

The pandemic has changed our expectations of life, of work and set a new purpose for many. It’s never been more vital to stay in tune with what those new expectations are. Rooted in these expectations is a more human-centric world, one where we can understand each other, relate to each other and navigate new territory together. We need to put the tools into managers’ hands so they can expertly have these conversations. Helping them understand the new expectations of their people and navigate those choppy new waters together.

In embracing new ways of working, it’s time to equally embrace the conversations that go with it. As well as the understanding of the new expectations that have emerged. This includes the means to retain the talent in your organisation. If you want to find out how Our Tandem can help you create meaningful check-ins and facilitate conversations that will help your employees express what they really want, book a chat with us. 

 

Human-Centric and Performance Management haven’t sat too well together in the past but we have a real opportunity to change that. An opportunity to embrace a whole new way of managing performance that puts human centricity at the core.When performance management practices were being born, human centricity was probably one of the least considerations in it. We wanted practices that would drive performance, hold people to account, ensure managers managed both high and low performance, and everything in between.

Over the years we’ve added to the practice. We’ve inserted boxes and matrices that went down well with our CFO colleagues. These also helped the business understand the science behind humans. But over time, perhaps we lost something too.

When performance drops

In between the boxes, the matrices, the processes, and the algorithms, we lost sight of the humans behind the formulas. The humans who came to work to do their best in the context of busy family life, long commutes, ageing parents, and many other human complexities we knew little of. Our performance management processes reduced their contribution to singular ratings, to discussions. These discussions include the task, the activity, the project, the contribution to the team. They leave little room for context, for wider consideration. In the process, we lost sight that often performance lags because of the context. When performance drops it’s likely because other, very real human factors, are at the forefront; challenges at home, tiredness, burnout from life’s many stresses can all build up to the one-liner – does not meet expectations. Yet we fear addressing the very things that may be creating that circumstance.

Our new reality of performance management needs to embrace the human factor, the very essence of being human. It needs to open up the reality of their context, the life context that may be holding them back or propelling them forward. That’s why the check-in conversation at its very essence needs to address the whole human. Not just the task, the activity, or the project, but the human behind the work. It starts with a genuine curiosity of how that employee is and a listening ear to what they are open to telling you as a manager.

The importance of effective check-ins

HR has been redesigning check-in conversations to take into context the human factors. It has started addressing well-being, challenges, and the whole human behind the work. Deloitte found in a study of workers in the United States and the United Kingdom that 94 percent report feeling stress at work and 96 percent of their respondents agreed that “well-being was an organizational responsibility”, making these check-ins all the more important for employees.

The secret to these effective check-ins is to help navigate an open conversation. A conversation that allows us to go where we traditionally haven’t gone, into the person’s context. Those moments can help give a real understanding of why performance is falling behind or pacing ahead. However, we can’t assume that every Manager just knows how to embark on such a check-in. It’s advisable to provide coaching prompts and tips to help them navigate the journey. Regular check-ins and continuous conversations will build the trust that’s needed prior to launching straight into this new territory.

The growth and development of employees

Our and most innate human need is to grow, to develop, to aspire to self-actualisation. We know our people are hungry to grow and develop. Yet, we don’t always put in place the right opportunities to do so or even to start the conversation. Perhaps we don’t have everything worked out in our learning strategy. However, this shouldn’t block us from starting the conversation. That conversation will help us understand what’s important to that employee for the future, what career do they aspire to. Growth and development conversations are key to putting human centricity back into the core of our experience.

We can transform our performance management practices. This can be done by putting human centricity at the core by having the right conversation at the right time.

Here are 3 simple steps to help you transform your performance management practices:
  • Introduce tools to the employee to allow them to own and drive the conversation about their growth and development
  • Help managers have strong check-in conversations that help navigate the employee’s context as well as their performance
  • Work ‘human’ moments of appreciation, feedback, and connection into your process. Make these frequent, so trust is built and those conversations flow more naturally.

The road to more human-centric performance management has a clear path. It’s built of a continuous performance coaching experience. One that will fundamentally change the working practices of employees and managers for the better. If you want to find out how Our Tandem can help you on your journey to a more human-centric approach to performance management, book a chat with us. 

 

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Nevermore so than when you’re transforming your performance management practices. Over the years, I’ve witnessed hundreds of changes in performance management strategy, interventions and practices. While everyone has a unique change plan and an even more unique culture which makes every project different, one thing they all have in common is the importance of the change management efforts on the outcome.

 

Change management is all-encompassing and doesn’t just start and end with a communications plan and a good training programme. The more sophisticated change plans consider all aspects, everything from the champions behind the programme, through to the role modelling behaviours and count every detail, right down to the high energy music on the launch video!

 

When it comes to transforming performance management, there are a lot of stigmas and barriers to be overcome. This is why it is all the more essential to have a great change management plan in place. One that breaks down barriers and perceptions that have built up over time, one that ignites excitement, energy, and momentum, and finally, one that has impact relevant to its audience. A change management plan shouldn’t have a one size fits all communication and training plan. We need to audience those communications relevant to who’s on the other end. Employees need to hear something quite different than their team leads, who may need different messages than their leaders and indeed senior executives. Audiencing your messages to suit the receiver will serve you well and ensure it resonates all the more strongly.

 

There are 3 core steps in building a great change plan:

Know your stakeholders.

They are the champions who can get behind your new initiative; the leaders who will become barriers or advocates to your change, the wider population who needs to receive the change; and make a plan for all of them.

Consider the appropriate channels to disseminate the right content.

Content should be audienced to the receiver. Ensuring that they hear the message in the right way through the right channels is key. Think like a marketeer. We need to advertise this change to the relevant audience in a way that resonates with them.

Focus on the why.

Too many change plans address the what – what we’re changing, what’s happening and what does it mean for you. But they often fail to address the core important question – why are we changing it? By focusing on the why, you can reassure your audience that you understood the problem in the first place. Also, that you have a vision for a new way of doing things, that will fit the needs of the organisation. Here in the why, you can also address the link to your business strategy. Doing so by setting it in a context that people understand.

The change plan is probably even more important than the changes you are making. Without it, you’ll have little impact in getting across your message. More importantly, you’ll be mobilising your people to make that change. “If employees feel that the analytical work was thorough and inclusive, they are more likely to accept the decision, even if they don’t like it.” Harvard Business Review. So next time you are planning some changes to your performance management strategy or practices, make sure your change plan expert is with you all the way. The closer and earlier they are involved, the better the outcome and success you are likely to see.

 

“Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing” – Rockefeller

 

Change management is at the heart of transformation. Start early and bring a group of champions along with who you can sound your decisions off. Doing so while seeking feedback along the journey. In starting early, your champions will help you form the change plan that’s right for your organisation.

Our Tandem is a Continuous Performance Management that has been created by HR experts. This means we understand the necessity of design implementation and change management, which is why we support our clients every step of the way. To learn more about how Our Tandem can help you transform your performance management strategy, book a chat with us today.

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