Performance review – a meta cannibalism process

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I used to say that agility comes natural as soon (and not until) as the first manager converts to a leader. But i was wrong and now i will correct myself.

Agility comes naturally when HR has converted to people and culture.

/Ove Holmberg

I was a member of an Agile coaching chapter at a big international engineering company once. It was November and the annual performance process was about to start. I was a consultant and was not a part of it and i saw my Agile coaching friends struggle with the process. The purpose of the entire Performance Management cycle from recruitment to retirement is to strengthen our company as a high performing organization.

Our success is not possible without its most important ingredient: its employees. To drive innovation, business performance and growth, we must build and nurture a high-performance culture throughout the whole organization. By ’culture’ we mean our attitudes, beliefs, norms, and behaviors.

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There are a few performance-related activities that need to be completed on a year-to-year basis to measure our successes and plan. These annual activities are guided by the vision, mission and strategy set at the highest level of the organization. Financial and operational targets needed to achieve the strategy are cascaded throughout all levels of the organization and serve to guide the annual goals and objectives of every employee. 

After each fiscal year, employees and managers gather to evaluate performance, establish clear objectives for the coming year and planning for continuous development of the skills and competencies of our employees. But here something goes wrong.

All performance indicators are designed for people, not teams. When performance is measured solely on individual level it comes of the cost of the team. If i perform well, my team performs well you argue? Yes, to some part but not in general as my bonus will be on behalf of your bonus and then cannibalism will happen.

My friend and agile coach Matti were hired at a Chinese company long time ago. They were implementing Scrum, but the organization was open with that the company growth was focused of firing at least 5% of the least performing workers in favor of bonuses to the most performing. His observation was that there was no help from the team to the firing candidates. If they go my odds becomes better.

So, make sure your performance goals are set on both individual and team level. Examples on effective team goals are attrition rate, fun, high safety, and actual delivery. Then add individual goals supporting these team goals and make HR [sic!] accountable. OKRs are a great tool for this. A personal goal could then be to learn a new tool so the team can work more effective. In this book it is said that salary setting is a tool for creating silence and HR and managers are the responsible for this by lack of meritocracy on behalf of obedience.

The performance process today is a big joke as HR measure on individual level and skip team level. When you combine them with the company goal real shit happens and not just a meta cannibalism process.

Men du kanske tvivlar?


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