Critic or Coach?

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At The Mpower Group we are strong proponents of Competency Based Talent Management.  One of the greatest assets most organizations have is their talent, yet few companies make the investment in that asset relative to other investments.   A large part of our consulting practice in fact is focused on helping organizations build capability and competency through Competency Based Talent Management (“CBTM”). 

 We look at CBTM as a system that needs to be managed as such.  We also believe that, at its core, is a well- defined competency model that helps employees understand what behaviors are required to be successful in their role.  One element that is often a given, is Performance Management.  Companies have built elaborate systems and spent millions of dollars to evaluate employees on an annual basis, supposedly with the goal of improving performance.  An article published in HBR’s April issue entitled “Reinventing Performance Management” looks at how Deloitte is redesigning their own performance management system which is currently out of step with their corporate objectives.

“ In a public survey Deloitte conducted recently, more than half the executives questioned (58%) believe that their current performance management approach drives neither employee engagement nor high performance.”  Believe it or not, as part of the reinvention,  Deloitte is getting rid of cascading objectives, annual reviews and 360 degree feedback – watch out for the HR police 🙂 !

Here are some interesting discoveries that helped them to build the case for change:

  • Creating ratings for employees consumed about two million hours a year
  • Assessing employee skills produced inconsistent data which was due to individual raters’ perception
  • Performance management was focused on the past not on the future
  • The person best able to assess a team members performance was the team leader and they were not part of the process

As a result of this study, Deloitte set out to reinvent their system under three main objectives  1) recognize performance 2) clearly see the performance 3) fuel performance.

  • Recognize performance – at the end of each project (or quarterly, for long projects) teams leaders were not asked about an individual’s skills but rather about their “own future actions with respect to that person” (e.g. would you want that person on your team again OR is this person ready for promotion OR should they receive the highest salary increase / bonus possible)
  • See performanceteam leaders provide results and behavior observations of the team member to support  the “performance snapshot” – evaluation is timely, more frequent  and utilizes several data points
  • Fuel performance – team leaders check in with the team member often (even daily) to provide coaching and guidance as opposed to the once-a-year conversation behind closed doors. Because team leaders have heavy demands on their time, it is the team member’s job to initiate the check in

In my opinion, some of the elements of this performance management approach are very strong:

  • It is not an annual process but one that considers many data points and is led by the person that is closest to the team member
  • Looks to the future as opposed to the past; forcing the team leader to state whether they would want to have this individual on a future team (how many of us have been the victim of a poor performer that was passed along to us)
  • Places the team leader in the position of coach as opposed to criticizer – this is huge and if done well can go a long way to building better teams and fueling performance.  By the way, this has always been the job of the team leader, but as we all know this does not happen consistently or ever

By the way, requiring the team leader to take on the role of coach requires a different set of competencies which has to be factored into the entire competency based talent management system.  We have long held the opinion that modern performance management practices simply do not work.  For the most part, they are not integrated into the “system” of competency based talent management.  Like Deloitte and others we have surveyed hundreds of companies across numerous industries and have found VERY few that have ALL the elements of a comprehensive talent management program.  All the elements must work together to be effective.  So, while Deloitte is working to “reinvent performance management” they also need to ensure that their talent objectives are supported by recruiting, training / development, career management and succession planning as well.

 Let us know what you think and join in the conversation.  . . . . . .     


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Anne has been leading consulting and financial management organizations for over 25 years. She has extensive expertise in Strategic Sourcing, change management, contracting & contract management (both the buy side and sell side) organizational design and supply chain management. Anne has a passion for collaborating and educating her clients while helping them to uncover hidden value in their organizations. In addition, Anne has been named by Supply & Demand Chain Executive as a “Top 100 Provider Pro to Know” every year since 2007 and a 2013 Top Female Supply Chain executive.

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