Aaron Tucker is an Organizational Consultant and Executive Coach who partners with multiple consulting groups and over 75 companies to date. Aaron has worked at both boutique and big four consulting firms in senior roles working mainly in HR Transformation and strategy and operations. Before that, he spent a career in the special operations community as a Navy SEAL. He is a recognized expert in leadership and the employee experience, as well as a sought-after keynote speaker on a variety of topics as well as finishing, his Ph.D. in Organizational Desing and Leadership.
What is currently missing in the way overall employee performance is being managed?
I think what is currently missing in performance management is an organization ability to tie their own strategic initiatives, objectives to their employees. If you read any of Morgan you are aware of a psychic prison. Basically, it’s our ability to be trapped in what we perceive is reality or within our own mental models. Performance management is a prime example of this. We trust in mosaics through HCM’s and other libraries but they are not custom to our organizations or meet their needs. It’s an easy solution that is common practice but is very lacking and a practice that needs to end.
Given that a company’s workforce now has a significant proportion of virtual and freelance workers, how should performance management include them?
This is a great question but first I think we need to look at each company separately in terms of goals and workforce management and total rewards. There is a big benefit that has to be recognized by both sides. For the freelancer, they have the autonomy to do what they want in terms of work and can turn down projects that they may not either have a passion for or are against their views. For the organization depending on their structure has large financial benefits such as reduction in company paid packages for medical, long and short term disability as well as a reduction in the potential of having employees on the bench waiting on projects.
To answer the question more directly I firmly believe the best way ahead comes down to expectation setting on both sides. There should be an expectation that a company will be paying close to they would if not more in some cases to the freelancer.
One thing I have seen within companies and dealing with freelance workforce is bonus structure based on contract deliverables. For example, writing into the contract specific performance milestones and attaching them to other their ability to get work done ahead of schedule that is required to start another project. The other thing I have recommended to clients is to maintain a contractor log with performance assessments in their file. Similar to what you provide your own full-time employees. This allows for their use throughout the organizations as well as providing value to their price point and abilities of what they can bring to a project. This ultimately, allows them to be selected more for work projects as well as something they can use for themselves to validate their own capabilities.
What are employees, managers and decision makers looking to make performance management more effective?
The key is to measure what matters. First and foremost, they need to understand the priorities of the organization and then use those metrics tied to their teams. This information needs to be transparent throughout the organization to ensure accountability up and down the organization structure as well as others to begin to realize that they don’t work in a silo and begin to break down the communication and work as a team vice a singular unit or person.
Again, the first thing is a solid strategy and realization of what you can accomplish in the next quarter and year so you can see the change and tie it directly to each person and team. This related the employee’s work and benefits directly to the organization creating a sense of belonging as well as they know exactly what they are measured against when it comes time to discuss bonus structures as well as compensation increases.
What are some of the new things being introduced in Performance Management that are working/not working?
On a negative side, the current use of HCM’s is both good and bad. The bad is simply that if you don’t customize the PM modules you are not benefiting from the capability. HR as a whole, especially when working in PM or succession need to ensure the metrics that employees are held to at all levels makes sense and tie to the organization itself. The single best solution I have seen is referred to OKR, objective and key results. This is the only holistic approach I have seen for an organization that truly ties performance against company metrics and also show validation, break down silos, and increase employee performance.
On a side note, this is also simply due to the reality we all face yet ignore. If I have 6 priorities then I really don’t have any. If I have 3 then there is a chance that I can actually focus on those three things. They just need to actually be the companies priorities and tie back to the objectives instead of what I think is important.
If not periodic appraisals, then what & how?
Periodic appraisals are fine and in fact beneficial if done correctly. My personal opinion and what I truly find to be the differentiator is again going back to almost quarterly look backs but only of the objectives tied to each employee. This provides a quantified score that can be aggregated throughout the year. Then add in a quantifiable score provided by either 360 reviews or something similar to remove bias and make up the remainder of the score.
This should only be second to monthly coaching and mentoring session. This way employees feel that the company is trying to meet their needs and provide personal mastery within a learning construct like Senge talks about in his book The Fifth Discipline as well as providing caring and inclusion. This also allows an organization to better understand their base and how to serve them while at the same time having a very limited bias system that can provide a scoring system that ranks based on organization strategic needs instead of random statements that may not even impact what the employee truly does.