What the question “Are you sure we have the right people working here?” has taught me about HR?

The question “Are you sure we have the right people working here?”

Early in my career while working in a technical role for a multinational one of the Directors was well known saying rhetorically, after being told of a problem, “Are you sure we have the right people working here?”.

Now that my career is in HR this has become a critical question for me. How do we know we have got the right people working for us? The answer is simply how successful are they in their role.

How do we measure success in a role?

We are all aware that in some organisations performance is linked to how well you get on with your boss! So we find that each department has its angles and devils. Lack of objectiveness is a serious handicap for both managers and staff. It also has serious implications for the organisation. It can cause good employees to become disenchanted, underperform and eventually leave. Managers can be seen as difficult to work for and have a high staff turnover, which will reduce their opportunities to progress in their career.

So how do we address this situation?

Performance management systems when used properly will provide guidance to both the manager and staff on how to properly assess and improve performance. The performance management system also provides transparency on what the organisation requires by linking the departmental and individual goals to the strategic plan.

This can be of great value as it interprets the organisational goals and aligns the departmental and individual goals. This allows individual employees to see how they fit into the big picture and how what they do is important to both their and the organisations success.

This transparency also offers clear guidance to employees to the eternal question. What does success look like?

Another key to success is having clear communication as to what is expected. It is interesting to see when a performance management system is put in place how different the perceptions are for both manager and employee as to what is important in a role.

Both managers and staff may well tell you that a performance management review takes up a great deal of time and don’t achieve a whole lot. Previous experience with annual performance review can colour this view. Annual reviews, most probably linked to annual increment, are not the most conducive atmosphere to have an open constructive discussion. The time it takes to carry out the review is reflected in the length of the review period i.e. 12 months.

What is the best frequency for performance management reviews?

Our research has shown that the most effective performance management processes use quarterly reviews. With the shorter review period the conversations are more focused, current and not just a review of things which may have happened 11 months ago.

By breaking the direct connection with salary it is possible to have a more open and honest conversation about performance. The reviews are also shorter because they address a shorter period.

The key to having the right people is managing the people you have to get them to deliver their best performance. This requires transparency, honest conversations and the setting achievable performance targets which are linked to the Organisational Goals.

 

 

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