NOOOOOOOOOO!!! I have to do another annual employee review?! I would rather be hit in the head by a 95mph fastball while not wearing a helmet. Of course I’m exaggerating, a little, but I knew twenty-five years ago when I began my career as a Manager that I completely despised the traditional annual review for an employee. The traditional reviews are boring, time consuming, uncomfortable, designed for hierarchical environments, lack recognition, and have rigid goals that are set once at the beginning of the year.
Enter the Data Age version of Agile Performance Management. I went back in time and asked myself when was I successful at anything I had done and how did I get there? When was I the most confident in myself? I found myself flashing back to my college days as a pitcher. I never lacked confidence or the attitude to get hitters out. How did I get there? Constant practice, feedback from my dad and coaches, and spending time in private education of the game. It was constant feedback before, during and after every practice and game. What were my goals for the practice or game? What do I need to improve on? What did I do well? What could I have done differently? I then asked myself the question, would I, as a coach, set goals for my team once at the beginning of the season and never address them again? Of course I wouldn’t if I wanted to be successful.
Data Age Agile Performance Management, as I like to call it, is designed for the new world of work which is more collaborative, social and faster moving. In a time when communication is instant, the once a year appraisal just doesn’t cut it. In an ever changing and fast paced workplace, no feedback makes no sense. What makes our program different than any other Agile plan you may ask? We developed it to work within our organization. This is no cookie cutter program. It’s developed to obtain our company’s vision as the best in our industry in all aspects, which by the way, we are. Our forward thinking approach to our team’s development gives me the confidence to stand behind my statement.
The two most important features of Data Age Agile Performance Management that we focus on are a development focus and regular check-ins. This shift in focus recognizes that a more skilled and capable workforce can perform at a higher level. Just like an elite sporting team, regular feedback, communication and coaching is needed to create high levels of performance. We don’t communicate performance scores as an evaluation tool but rather as a mechanism to track and support continuous improvement. Performance goals clearly serve both purposes, but their primary purpose is to increase performance not to judge performance. We follow the belief that today, just setting long-term/annual goals alone for team members, is no longer useful because those goals quickly become irrelevant in today’s “I want it now” workforce. We follow the belief that goals established and addressed more frequently set clear direction, set clear expectations and ensure big picture alignment throughout the organization.
We approach our one-on-one sessions as a vital part of a leader’s role in the Data Age Agile Performance Management process. These sessions are different from the everyday leadership conversations that typically talk about work currently being done. We approach this as a private time scheduled between the manager and team member. We are confident it does several things for the team member. It helps them understand their contribution to the big picture strategy and goals, it helps them to adjust if they are not on track, it ensures that team members know how they are performing, and it strengthens relationships.
Data Age Leaders continually impart a sense of greater purpose to their team member’s role. We don’t want them just fulfilling the requirements of the position on a day-to-day basis, we want them to understand the bigger picture so they will contribute ideas and be more engaged in their work.