There is much one can learn about the digital transformation of the modern-day workplace from the recent Tom Hanks and Emma Watson movie, The Circle. While the movie takes a somewhat dystopian/Orwellian turn after the first few minutes, the present day workplace is not that different regarding the hyperconnectivity, cross-functional work culture and a business leader (of course, Tom Hanks) who is looked at more of an inspirational leader than the CEO of the company. If that sounds familiar, that is because these are the terms that are increasingly being used to define digital transformation.
Surveys indicate, about 60% of the surveyed HR leaders/managers are dissatisfied with the current performance management processes in place at their organisations. And if that was not enough, 58% believe that performance management processes and tools are helping neither performance nor engagement amongst employees. That sounds bad. The operative word in that sentence being – ‘sounds’. With the right measures, HR leaders and managers could be at the very forefront of driving performance in this present digital realm. So, let’s briefly explore five ways an HR manager can turn things around.
1. Embrace the Three Golden Ds – Don’t Deny Digital
Acceptance is the first step to turning this scenario around. Many HR managers and even leaders are still trying to apply outdated performance management measures to present day workplaces. According to Gartner, performance management of the future will be a more real-time, open and streamlined – thanks to the era of seeking instant information. The report says more than 70% of the surveyed organisations think performance management will need to be overhauled for it to remain effective. Hence, the first step is to accept and embrace this changing digital realm and start thinking of new ways of handling (and thus, driving) performance management.
2. See a problem? Don’t ignore it.
Sounds simple? Not really! We all know the dreaded ‘Iceberg of Ignorance’ – the top management of any organisation only knows about the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in terms of workplace issues. Organisations are becoming flatter and flatter. This is an opportunity for the HR manager to lead from the front by creating policies that ensure workplace problems concerning employee performance do not remain hidden from the decision makers. In the hyperconnected work-environment HR managers can guide and coach the line managers to bring in more social, less formal, instant-feedback. This is where you as an HR leader can shine in the digital workplace.
3. Think of communication and coaching as the new performance review
Many employees, as well as managers, think of performance reviews as a sheer waste of time, morale and productivity. So what can you as an HR manager do? Consider rethinking the old way of only assessing performance annually to frequent, genuine, upfront and transparent communication between the employees and management. HR’s role is to facilitate such an environment. In addition, HR leaders can create learning and development programs for managers that inculcate empowerment. Where necessary HR can offer short workshops on interpersonal communication and inclusive leadership skills so that they can better relate to their team members and be inspirational instead of being directional.
4. Understand the ‘social’ needs of the employees
Yes, that sounds tricky – because it is. A new emerging concept that can assist HR leaders of today is peer-to-peer recognition. In the social media world, the desire for connectivity stems from love for likes, shares, followers and subscribers. This social phenomenon has reached our work lives. HR can take advantage of this by enabling feedback mechanisms where staff can provide instant inputs into recognising the effort or achievements of other employees on certain projects or milestones that they share with each other. This can be an easy and fun process where, for example, HR can drive a Friday initiative where employees can nominate and vote for titles such as Mr/Ms Helpful/Rockstar/Fill-in-the-blank of the week/month.
5. Identify your multipotentialities
In her famous Ted Talk, Emilie Wapnick talks about something vitally important for every HR leader – the rise of the ‘multipotentialite’ millennial. To drive performance management in the present day scenario, HR leaders, as well as business leaders, will need to understand that the young workforce coming in is going to be specialised in more than one skill and that cross-functional teams are the way of the future. Their needs for grooming and achieving their full potential are going to be remarkably different from the more conventional workforce. According to Deloitte, empowering digital leadership will be a key factor in the days ahead, and HR leaders will need to provide the right tools and the freedom that are needed to empower these digital leaders. Some vital skills, that HR can equip their people leaders with, are understanding of the digital market, management of cross-functional teams, entrepreneurial spirit and handling high-risk scenarios.