Srivibhavan Balaram, MD, India Operations, Vocera

Performance scores distract – need focus on development

Srivibhavan Balaram is the MD, India Operations, Vocera
He is responsible for setting up and running the Vocera India Engineering Center. He specializes in leading Companies from Start-up to growth phase and beyond, Leadership and mentoring of people in the R&D environment, & Product Management and product positioning and messaging.
For more information on Vocera, visit
www.vocera.com

In an exclusive interview with GroSum Performance Management eMag, Mr Srivibhavan Balaram, MD, India Operations, Vocera, stated that performance scores are distracting & focus should be on development.

How important is Performance Management (P.M.) in today’s high-flux organization?
Performance management is very relevant in the current day fast moving environment because in today?s world, every single employee has to perform to their full potential in order for an organization to be competitive. Moreover, it is also critical to grow employees fast to fill newer requirements. Lastly, jobs are getting obsolete faster than ever before, so it is important to have employees transition their skills and expertise quickly. An organization cannot afford to keep hiring new people as skill requirements change. A performance management system helps the organization keep track of its people?s skills and transform them as business requirements change in a timely manner.

How does P.M. actually help companies like yours?
We refer to our system as Talent Management, to shift the focus from “performance only to talent development which encourages a high-performance culture”. A high-performance culture involves people at every level and function focused on the right priorities and understanding that they are accountable for delivering strong results. Strong bench strength and deploying the right talent to the right job can impact company performance significantly. We have found that the components of the performance management process such as clear goal-setting, aligning individuals to organizational strategy, feedback delivery, and ability of a manager to coach and develop employees also has a significant impact on employee engagement.

In our fast moving environment, we have to be constantly learning and innovating. At Vocera, our performance management system is lightweight and focuses people’s strengths, their growth and their gaining “know-how” of our nascent area of business. All these are critical for our success. We also encourage people to be innovative and to challenge and disrupt the status-quo.

What are the key gaps in current industry practices in managing employees’ performance?
Some of the common performance management challenges include lack of timely and accurate feedback from managers; inability of managers to identify, develop, and engage high-potential employees; irrelevant individual goals; and ambiguity about performance expectations. A few things are still very prevalent even though we know that they do not work well.
– An obsession to focus on an employee’s weaknesses rather than maximizing their strengths for the organization’s benefit
– While the link between performance and compensation is obvious, there is too much linkage between the two. Compensation is a function of several other factors like affordability, market positioning and company strategy. By linking it to just performance, one does remove the focus on growth from the performance management system.

How many employees in your organization & how are you managing their performance?
Vocera world-wide is close to 400 employees. We lead and manage performance at Vocera to drive high performance & increase employee satisfaction. To achieve these objectives we manage to smart, aligned goals, operate with an emphasis on real-time feedback and coaching, pair accountability with agility and tie rewards to ‘enterprise contribution’ instead of a traditional performance scores. We have found that classic performance scores distract employees, their managers and the organization from having the high utility conversations that let employees learn and grow and know where they stand. We encourage periodic employee driven check-ins on progress to goals. Semi-annual coaching conversations are conducted and focus on two-way conversations of past and future goals and performance rather than a top-down delivery.

What makes a really effective P.M. programme? Any best practices to share.
Regular one-on-one meetings to share feedback and perspective

– Executives and senior managers have direct interaction with all levels of employees to understand and improve the system.

– An effective program ensures that employees understand their value and contribution to the company, It also should enables employees to play a greater role in proactively discussing their performance in a two-way conversation between manager and employee, rather than a top-down conversation, so decisions about performance are made together

– Best Practices: delivering regular feedback and coaching, setting effective goals, identify organizational career paths for employees and providing appropriate learning and development opportunities. Most importantly gathering information from multiple sources, such as through a 360 feedback process, which increases objectivity and focuses on the entire enterprise contribution.

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