Ryan Barretto is a graduate from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, He brings to the table 25 years of rich experience in all HR domains. He’s worked across various industries including a startup. He is adept at Coaching, Training and creating HR systems, policies and strategies. He is a licensed PRISM Practitioner and is a Strengths Strategy Certified Coach from Strengths Strategy, Inc, USA and is familiar with other psychometric tools like FIRO – B, PI, OPQ & MRE, and is recently certified as a Situational Leadership trainer for the Building Leaders program from CLS (Center for Leadership Studies), USA. He also volunteers his time with the IAF (International Association of Facilitators) and was the Co-lead of the Mumbai Hub of the India chapter for 2 years.
As a Trainer / Facilitator, he designs and delivers his sessions both in the online and physical spaces. His favourite topics to train or facilitate on are Teams Collaboration (Using PRISM Team Diagnostic or CliftonStrengths), Conflict Management, Advanced Team Leadership Skills, Managerial Skills for first time Managers, Behavioural event interviewing, and Goal setting.
As a Strengths Strategy Coach, he focuses on the space of Career Transition and Career Coaching, enabling working professionals to design a career based on their strengths so that they are really satisfied with their work, while getting a decent compensation for it. He also provides Executive Coaching and has coached professionals at GM and C levels.
Here are his key experiences in the industry in relation to Performance Management.
How important is Performance Management in today’s high-flux organisation?
Performance Management is as important as it was 20-30 years ago, because every organization must evolve and improve performance. It is important to know how much you are growing, it is important to know in which direction you are growing, and accordingly, when is the period of high growth, so, you plan appropriately. To be effective, it must be clear on many things, but primarily there should be clarity on the vision of the organization, and then after, the vision must be linked to the jobs. Then only the performance assessment will have some appropriate meaning. Performance Management is a very helpful tool that serves this purpose. Additionally, it is much more useful to develop the people in your organization so that they can improve their contribution to the organization.
How does Performance Management help companies?
Performance Management helps in knowing what we are doing, and whether if it is effective or not. It is not enough that the customer just buys the product, it is also important that the customer comes back and buys again, as well as tell his family and friends. So, if we have a tracking mechanism that looks at all these things then it will help the organization, because then we know what we are planning for, who is our customer exactly, and how are the tastes and preferences are changing. Now, if we have a system of checking an employee performance, let’s say, the employee is in Operations, and he must process ‘x’ number of files in a day, so, he is processing it, but this does not tell us anything as to how effective that processing is. So, we need to assess him in a process by which we estimate how his work is impacting the customer directly as well as indirectly. Indirectly means you are focused on an internal customer, which means whoever internally, like an operation person or, a support person is doing something that helps the customer facing employee deliver better service. So, if we measure the output from the system built along these lines to track how employee performance is supporting the internal customers or the final customers (the ones who are paying everyone’s salary), then our performance management will help the organization, otherwise, it will be just an exercise of paperwork.
What are the key gaps in current industry practices in managing employee’s performance?
Starting from the very basic of how my job is related to giving value to the customer, and how my job is related to the vision and mission of the organization. Unless that clarity is not there, we will not have a effective job description, and if we don’t have this, we will constantly hire the inappropriate candidate. Further, if we don’t have a growth plan for the hired employees in the organization, in terms of learning plan, then we will not be able to serve the customer’s requirements, and we will be at a mediocre level. Then we come to the part of monitoring and managing the employee’s performance. For this purpose, we need to have a manager, who is trained in grooming an employee, which means not only they must be knowing the job well enough, but they must also be willing to listen the employee’s feedback about how the job can be improved. After this we come to a space where we are discussing the performance appraisal. If we can do all these so far then the performance appraisal can be a real appraisal which would be focused on development. In the last 40 years, performance management has been actively pushed down people’s throat, the biggest mistake is to connect performance management and performance appraisal to increments and promotions. Research shows that focus on the rewards which are external, tends to bring down the performance of the employee. When we are focused on doing quality work, we should not connect the appraisal to the compensation. Additionally, most of the performance management systems are individual based and not team based, and then the employees think that they are being rewarded as an individual contributor, not a team performer. To complicate things, trainers and consultants are called in to help the team work together, which is a waste of money again because you are not working on the actual problem. Finally, one of the other challenges associated with performance is we hire someone based on experience which they have. Many times, past experience is influenced by a variety of other factors (culture, interpersonal relationships), and not just the employee, so it becomes difficult for the new employee to replicate past performance quickly. We must switch our hiring strategy to hire someone based on their strengths and skills, as in what are they good at and what the job needs, then we will automatically have someone who is engaged in the work because they are happy doing what they are doing. For instance, if someone loves working with numbers, and if they are put into a sales job or, a customer service job, they will not enjoy that much. So, that is the fundamental shift we have to make, if the organization wants to develop employee engagement and wants people to work on their own (i.e. show initiative), because once we use this approach, the employee not really going to be bothered much about the money. Yes, they want and should be paid good money to work, but they will be more into the satisfaction they get from working rather than the rewards we are promising.
What are your views on Bell Curve?
Bell Curve was never meant to depict in employee performance, it was meant to showcase other things. Bell curve has a theory that says, so many people should be in top 5 or, so many people should be in bottom 5. They are force fitting someone who is not really at that level. It causes lots of misery and pain to the employee (because it seems unfair) and the manager (because it is upsetting to tell a decent performer that you cannot rate them appropriately). The best thing would be to not use it.
What makes a really effective Performance Management programme? Any best practices to share.
I have worked in an organization where we have implemented the balance scorecard along with the 180-degree appraisal format. Balance scorecard was helpful because it was cascaded top-down. The CEO formulated the vision and mission for the company, then the top management wrote their goals which are department goals to achieve the vision and mission, and that was taken down each department. Each department then knows what their goals are, that are going to impact the company goals, and then it came down to the junior most people, what are they contributing to the department goals or, the organizational goals. This way there is a clear linkage between what I am doing at my table with what the organization is trying to achieve in the long run. So, being the HR, I was able to talk about each department KRAs on an overall basis, not necessarily in depth. So, that absorption is clearly there as in what is expected of me. So, this is one of the better practices, but I also think OKR is a very good methodology of performance management because it requires a lot of transparency. The organization itself must be willing to communicate in an open and transparent matter, that means, “You say what you mean, and you mean what you say.”