Gareth Williams, HR & Business Development Director at Azureus Ltd

I’ve been there in HR. Just about covered every base in this profession, from resourcing, reward, ER, L&D including training – but most importantly the creation of strong relationships with the leaders of every business I have worked with.

Highlights led huge resourcing campaigns including recruitment, redundancy, and reskilling; been creator and driver of major change management programs, whilst developing and motivating client focused HR teams. All of these and many other initiatives have all had a great impact on employee engagement, collaboration and critically the bottom line.

Specialties: HR Generalist and trusted listening ear from the CEO to the operatives really running the business.


What is currently missing in the way overall employee performance is being managed?

Performance Management is a difficult issue for many managers at all levels in a company. There appear to be, in my experience, three categories of people delivering performance management. The first, “all my team are brilliant” to have an easy life as a manager, the second “I am really tough on people so they deliver”. The third is fair-minded people who genuinely review performance based on achievement, whilst recognizing operational and market challenges. What is missing are proper targets or SMART objectives in many businesses. Even if they are in place too many businesses fail to really critically analyze these measures.

How do you manage overall people performance, individually, as a team, or as a business? these measures have to be considered? Set your goals, as an individual, as a team, and as a business, and performance should be managed against all of these factors. Bottom line is you need to educate your managers and leaders in how to be “fair” in working with their people and I do not believe it is happening in much of my experience.

Think about creativity, positive actions, and how organizations can develop through their people. It is about business success through people success.

Given that a company’s workforce now has a significant proportion of virtual and freelance workers, how should performance management include them?

That is straightforward. Put them into the process of assessment. If an “employee” works for an agency, they should be responsible for assessment and liaise with the employer of that contractor, but do not give them less support than a full-time employee, simply push back responsibility to the agency. With freelance workers do regular reviews like you would with your own people. What is the difference? What are your targets? What have you delivered? What are you charging us? Therefore, are you worth what you cost this business? Bit harder edge, but same principle. As a self-employed consultant these days I would expect that sort of discussion, which sadly happens very rarely.

What are employees, managers and decision makers looking to make performance management more effective?

Employees want feedback. Often it is centered around “what training am I going to get?” This needs to be turned around to what development am I going to get (which I am sure will include some training) but we really need to focus on the broader church of all-round development. People want to be valued, and given feedback, good and less good, as long as it is positive. Sometimes the less positive may lead to something less positive in future employment.

Managers want people to deliver, so they are looking to be trained in how to deliver messages good and bad, to their people. Managers want tools to deliver what they have to do to hopefully support their people. The important issue is time. Have worked in companies where ratios are one manager to fifty operatives. Totally impossible to give individuals the support and development they may require in this situation, so managers often speak of unreasonable requirements. Fix this and it will help with great training. This will make team meetings more manageable, and create an opportunity for 1:1 discussion with managers’ people. But I would also suggest that as with the people wanting positive leadership, front-line managers would expect this from the business leaders.

Decision makers, of which I have been one in many organizations, want effective processes in place that managers adhere to. The biggest thing though that decision makers can do is support and enable their managers and their people. Engage, have open forum meetings. As a leader, you may at first be shocked by what you hear, but you will learn and be able to change things. Of course, as a leader you expect your managers and people to deliver, but you should not be expecting anything too easy – it is your responsibility. Feedback and action. That is the key.

What are some of the new things being introduced in Performance Management that are working/not working?

It is not new but 360-degree feedback has always been worthwhile. I have had some tough discussions with some of my people in the past. Open Forum meetings are fantastic at teasing out concerns, then addressing those issues you can, whilst pushing back on what you can’t. Coaching & mentoring of people is a great opportunity to bring on people and to develop people who may need help.

Noticeably health management is coming to the fore right now. I would not call myself an expert in this arena, but it has been recognized as a very important issue in performance issues.

Talent management can be seen as very divisive. However, I think a necessary evil, but which must be overseen by HR to ensure the “blued eyed” ladies and gents are not given favorable opportunities if their talent does not warrant it. Fairness in reviewing capability, current and future must be fair and transparent.

On a negative issue, as already outlined if a manager has too many people to support they cannot possibly able to give proper feedback.

Attempts at online solutions have not yet achieved what they may, but let’s watch this space for the future.

If not periodic appraisals, then what & how?

Monthly 1:1’s if you can. The annual review is reasonable but may be staggered. Many businesses now do a review based on your birth date rather than year-end. Not in favor of this, However, as if you’re a salesperson your performance is ultimately based on year-end results. That is why I am a strong believer in monthly 1:1’a in all activities monitoring performance, but more importantly, giving feedback and support.


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