Have you yet hired a chief joy officer, an agile coach, a technology adoption specialist?
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For years, the HR industry has bemoaned the annual performance review: it’s inefficient, breeds resentment and fails to show any value for employees. Instead, over time, several solutions have been suggested — like real-time feedback, an increased review cadence and 360 reviews. Add to this list performance-management software.
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But what if it isn’t the process that’s broken, but the way we think about performance in general? After all, our current evaluation process dates back to the industrial and manufacturing era, and to people in production lines, their work measured by quantity of output.
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Sounds kind of dated, right? Because, today, we’re seeing the rise of the knowledge-based economy and dramatic changes in our workplace roles. Then there’s the quickening pace at which digital transformation is changing jobs and creating new ones.
According to McKinsey, by 2030 roughly 14 percent of the global workforce may need to switch occupational categories, because of the disruption to work due to digitization, automation and advances in artificial intelligence. There’s also the trend toward people searching for more meaning and purpose in their jobs, especially millennials … so, clearly, we’re on the cusp of a pivotal moment.
How do we prepare to better support our employees? Three new roles have been suggested:
Chief joy officer
Let’s immediatly dispel a big myth: The chief joy officer’s role isn’t to spread happiness through fun activities and free massages; rather this person’s role is to ensure that employees feel fulfilled in their roles, that their work is valued and that their opinions are taken into account.
Take for example VaynerMedia’s Claude Silver, whose role, Forbes has written, is to support the CEO in putting people first. Her approach is to move away from the very pragmatic-sounding “HR” and get closer to culture and experience through empathy.
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Then there’s Max Hunter, chief joy officer for Loylogic. Like Claude, his role is to listen to employees to get a feeling for what they need and help the company make those expressed needs a reality. His mission, he says, is “to make sure people wake up on a Monday morning looking forward to going to work.”
With roles like these, companies can ensure that they focus on developing and supporting people’s careers, which is a crucial component of employee retention.
Considering the short period of time spent typically spent in today’s job, it’s unsurprising that 81 percent of millennials are interested in benefiting from continuous professional development, via self-directed or self-paced learning. This is a need clearly not being met by companies: Only 36 percent of millennials have reported that their employers were helping them understand and prepare for the changes associated with Industry 4.0.
2. Agile coach
While roles like Claude Silver’s and Max Hunter’s are high-level when you’re looking at a organization as a whole, the role of the agile coach is complementary because it is more embedded within individual teams.
With an increasing number of functions and teams adopting agile methodology, this coach supports the transformation and enables his or her team members to perform at their best. An agile coach also acts as support for managers who may be struggling to balance their day-to-day tasks with their need to coach and develop their team members.
3. Technology adoption officer
As previously mentioned, companies are increasingly using HRTech as a way to improve the employee experience and automate processes. But unfortunately this tech may fall short of expectations, due to its lack of adoption.
When it is adopted, problems occur: HR tech’s value isn’t being clearly communicated to employees, and new tools are being rolled out without preparation for the potential impact they might have on people’s day to day work lives, not to mention a strong change management plan in place.
This is where the role of technology adoption officer comes in: Whether his or her role is full-time or a long-term assignment, this person springs into action whenever new technology is purchased.
In this way, companies can ensure that the technology adoption has been fully thought through so employees see themselves as part of the process. Particularly when it comes to HR, the risk is that the technology might end up serving the HR staff’s needs more than that of the people who’ll be using it on a daily basis.
Turning performance management upside down
To counter the broken performance management problem, what if we stopped measuring performance, and started transforming roles into careers? Companies would start to help individuals find the roles that are the best match for them. How? Consider: personality, interests and strengths of each individual. Create teams based on individuals’ different and complementary skill sets. The concept isn’t new: Gallup’s StrengthsFinder introduced the idea in 2001.
Next, identify which people get to work on certain projects based on their core competencies and the things they do best. Outside of their daily tasks, allow them to take up certain ones based on their interests and areas they want to develop. Through this approach, people’s day-to-day responsibilities remain the same, but they should eventually feel a greater sense of purpose, and flourish.
Companies will see an increase in productivity, satisfaction and engagement. If employees perceive that they are being invested in, they are more likely to develop loyalty and become ambassadors for the company, as well as stay there longer. This is how we can start to change the way we look at employees and careers, and develop a completely new way of working.
If companies pioneer this new people enablement model, people will also start to change the way they think about their careers and the different types of opportunities available to them. In the long term, we will be able to break out of the way we currently view performance, and create a new model that is more aligned with our time.
How can employers do this?
Creating the roles previously mentioned is one way to start thinking differently about managing people. Employers can also rethink the way we are evaluating performance, and develop new ways in which it could be done. For example, in addition to evaluating people’s work the contemporary performance management process might:
- Identify employees’ key strengths and have them on record for all departments to consult.
- Give you an employee’s personality type (MBTI or other).
- Give employees an opportunity to volunteer for or show interest in projects they’d like to work on outside of their day-to-day responsibilities.
- Show which past projects employees successfully contributed a certain skill set to.
- Allow employees to list what professional skills and competencies they want to develop in the context of company or department-wide projects.
In sum, it’s time that companies change the way they view people’s careers, and see individuals as more than just “employees.” That way, we can all acclimate to, and live and work in, this new knowledge-based economy.