33: The Performance Management Revolution

Primary tabs

Our podcast picks up on design thinking in HR, introduced by our last guest in Episode 32. Anthony Onesto offered up performance management as an example of a program that does not work. Fortunately, organizations are taking the bold step of rethinking and redesigning their performance management programs, with a focus on what people are actually doing at work and how to best assess it. In this episode, Dr. Anna Tavis provides insight to these developments and shares information on their results. She urges HR professionals to get educated on the latest designs and techniques, and to acquire skills necessary to overhaul performance management systems in their organizations.
Dr. Anna Tavis, a renowned researcher, author, speaker, educator, executive coach, and consultant, is uniquely focused on the future of work. Her corporate career spans across all industries, and she has held C-level and senior level global roles in OD, talent management, and learning and development, and she has been with firms such as Motorola, Nokia, United Technologies, and AIG. Dr. Tavis has served as a full-time professor at Williams College and Fairfield University, and has held a post-doctorate fellowship at Columbia.  She is currently an associate professor at NYU teaching graduate and senior level courses in the Master’s program in Human Resources. Dr. Tavis has a unique balance of both academia and application. Her publications are numerous, and she is currently working on a new book about the end of talent management as we know it. 

Key Learnings From This Episode

Download the Show Notes

  • The Changing Nature of Work. Performance management is the backbone of work. Compensation and benefits are linked to performance and employees are paid for performance. There have been significant disruptions in the nature of work and organizations. As work has changed and technology has evolved, we have not changed the architecture that revolves around organizations. What has been built around performance is no longer working. Organizations are taking the bold step forward to rethink and redesign their programs - how performance is being configured, measured and rewarded. It is the beginning of a much broader and deeper change in how we do work.
  • The Origins of New Ways of Working. Engineers started the trend of agile working in 2001. It was a break-away in software development, characterized by a strengths-based, short-term, team-based process of designing a product, as opposed to a ‘waterfall’ approach. The process is fast, feedback based, and manager driven. In contrast, employees have traditionally been paid for and evaluated on a year-long basis. The new way of working highlighted the gap between what people were actually doing and how they are being assessed and evaluated, and it has grown wider. It was a revolution.
  • Anna Tavis Quote on Hr Studio PodcastWhat is the ‘gold standard’ of how HR should be done? Talent management is viewed as the whole, with performance management as the backbone behind it. The process of differentiation, customization and personalization of performance management is going to continue. We will end up with an eco-system of companies that will be doing their performance management as is appropriate to their specific operating model. Some will keep performance ratings and others will drop them.
  • Advice to HR professionals. The role of HR professionals should be elevated and in demand. They will need to be true business partners with strong consulting skills who understand their business and are prepared to help re-configure the old, inherited architecture into something that is much more agile and customized for their specific organization. HR professionals need to step up and educate themselves on the most current designs and techniques.

    Companies are using design thinking as their preferred approach to performance management re-design. There is a whole new set of skills HR professionals need to acquire. Educate yourselves, learn, and connect with fellow HR professionals. The HR community needs to step up to the challenge and opportunity.

  • What are the benefits to these new systems? The engagement levels of employees and the positive response to these systems are skyrocketing in organizations who have implemented them.
    • Practitioners are seeing an increase in the trust level that employees have as well as a significant improvement in the manager/employee relationship.
    • The manager becomes more of a coach rather than a judge of performance.
    • Employees have more flexibility and are more creative and innovative.
    • Mistakes are addressed in an immediate fashion. A mistake becomes a learning opportunity rather than a derailer at the end of the year.
    • The performance process addresses quality of performance, motivates people, and removes the risks of failure because mistakes are addressed immediately in a collaborative way, creating more of a learning organization.
    • There is a level of ‘psychological safety’ which leads to a more innovative environment.
    • People are allowed to thrive.
The compensation and reward philosophy – pay for performance – is also being addressed. Companies are looking for more agile ways of designing compensation schemes. Compensation is becoming an incentive rather than a reward for past performance.

Recommended Reading and References from this Episode

To Follow Anna Tavis

Anna's Question to HR Studio Podcast Group Members

How are companies solving performance issues? Are they considering dropping ratings? How are they approaching manager training? How is your company’s compensation system changing? Are your colleagues involved in the discussions? From a legal perspective, how do you know if someone is not performing if you drop the traditional performance management system?

Anna Tavis HR Studio Podcast Show Notes
Anna Tavis HR Studio Podcast Show Notes
Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - 8:00am
Human Resources
Linda Hlavac
Dr. Anna Tavis
HR Studio Podcast