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“If everyone’s super, then no one will be.”

How does this quote from The Incredibles movie apply to the challenges today’s organizations face when it comes to everyday performance management?

Tune in to last week's live SAP Radio segment on Performance Management 2.0: Engaging the Entire Talent Spectrum” and hear from our panel of talent management experts.

The path to a more engaged and effective workforce

The segment featured an insightful discussion on the two sides of the performance management revolution that’s taking place. One that many companies have realized annual evaluations and ratings are no longer useful for meeting the needs of their employees and business, and want to create more ongoing performance dialogue between managers and employees. The other that employees perform at all different levels and companies shouldn’t treat everyone the same – that is, everyone shouldn't be deemed ‘super’.

It was a lively conversation as SAP Radio host Bonnie D. Graham explored with our panel how leading companies are rethinking their performance management systems to ensure a more engaged and effective workforce:

  • Dr. Deborah Ford – Management consultant lead with Accenture. Ford is an industrial organizational psychologist and transformation change agent in HR and talent management.
  • Dr. Steven Hunt – SAP SuccessFactors senior vice president responsible for HCM research. Hunt is an industrial organizational psychologist, a recognized talent management expert, and an active author and speaker.
  • Strausie Markham – SAP SuccessFactors solution adoption advisor with deep HCM product expertise. Markam is a respected thought leader, advocate and consultative advisor to companies across a range of industries.

The need for ongoing performance dialogue and frequent feedback

The experts weighed in on how companies are rethinking their performance management systems to improve business outcomes by advancing employee development and increasing engagement.

Organizations have complained for years about annual performance reviews no longer being effective or relevant when it comes to motivating and developing top talent. Most often what’s missing is the ability to provide employees ongoing, meaningful feedback that keeps them engaged and ensures their work always aligns to corporate objectives.

As Markam stated, “This is about letting the needs of your business drive the performance management process versus it being an HR-driven initiative. It’s about empowering employees and managers to take ownership of the process and engage in more ongoing performance related-dialogue that’s based on their actual needs. If you think about it, it’s a much more natural approach to managing performance.”

Ford agreed, “Our research suggests that companies across the board are investing in real time coaching and frequent feedback as a means of increasing employee engagement and accelerating employee performance. Our clients know that an increased focus on feedback will help improve motivation. While this isn’t a new finding, the fact that organizations are taking the steps to make it happen is new. Technology plays a big role in this.”

The need for differentiation across the talent spectrum

The conversation also focused on the challenges organizations face assessing contribution at all levels across the workforce.

“When it comes to workforce management,” Hunt declared, “we are not all the same”. Organizations know that some employees deliver more value than others based on their contribution. So why do they often treat people the same?

You want to be consistent in how you treat employees but at the same time you want to treat people as individuals. “This is the crux of talent management today.” claimed Hunt. “Treating people the same is neither effective nor fair.”

The panelists all agreed that how you develop and coach employees, how you recognize and reward them, how you engage them and motivate them should be different – based on the individual and everything that’s unique about them their actions, behaviors, strengths, weaknesses, value, potential, level of engagement, etc. The question is often how which is where increased use of calibration enters the equation.

According to Ford, “The real winners when it comes to performance management are those that embrace employee differentiation and assume a collaborative approach to discussing and agreeing on the performance levels of employees.”

Hunt added that we're seeing a movement toward ongoing calibration, “Organizations want the ability to evaluate and benchmark employees on a more continuous basis. Why? Because with a more continuous approach to calibration, they can influence decisions about pay, career advancement, succession, resource planning, job assignments, promotions, rewards, terminations, etc. – at the moment those decisions are critical to make.”

A look at what the future holds

As for predictions around performance management, Ford, Hunt, and Markham weren’t reticent. More transparency around performance expectations, new freedom for employees when it comes to decision making, and increased use of technology to help guide more personalized engagement approaches were at the top of their lists.

Listen to the full show here and feel free to Tweet your comments to #SAPRadio.

How are you redesigning your performance management systems to increase employee engagement and drive value for your business? Sound off in the comment section below.