Annual HR practices are failing. Your managers are the solution.

Rob Catalano
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Rob Catalano is passionate about helping companies succeed – by leveraging technology to make employees successful. As a founding employee, Rob spent the past ten years at Achievers in three different countries. With his unique experience in HR Technology, Rob co-founded WorkTango – a platform that helps managers build authentic relationships and trust with their employees and create high performing teams.

If you’re operating your people practices annually (or even quarterly), you’re behind.

The workplace is rapidly changing and if current processes aren’t changed, companies will be hard pressed to build a competitive environment to retain and inspire great talent.

Important HR strategies such as performance and talent management, employee engagement, rewards and recognition, and compensation plans are traditionally annual approaches that must shift to be more in-the-moment.

Why? Because as the workplace environment changes, the combined speed at which businesses operate and the makeup of the modern employee demands a change in approach.

No longer can we examine performance annually or conduct the annual employee engagement survey: we need to figure out how to have real-time conversations on maximising performance and engagement of our employees.

The key here? Real-time conversations. Real-time feedback.

Managers account for as much as 70% of variance in employee engagement scores.

And yet...

The conversations aren’t happening, and feedback is sparse.

A few forward-thinking companies are implementing new processes that are proving successful:

  • Real-time engagement – getting a pulse on a weekly basis to react quickly
  • One-on-one meetings – forgoing performance management systems and replacing them with 1:1s to encourage conversation – read what one company did.
  • Manager accountability – employee engagement and performance becoming part of bonus compensation for managers
  • Manager training (but not like you think) – gone are days of two-day workshops. It’s about putting it into practice daily, such as assigning a manager coach to support managers and be a sounding board for feedback

Technology is starting to make this easier, but the reality is that the power lies in the hands (or handheld devices) of your managers.

Bersin by Deloitte says “feedback management” is destined to become a new software category in 2016. This is likely true, but enabling managers is of paramount importance.

"Forgotten child"

Managers become the forgotten child in many HR-driven people-practices when in reality, managers interact the most with employees and have the biggest impact.

Recent studies show that managers account for as much as 70% of variance in employee engagement scores. Yet, managers aren’t armed with the training and technology to make an impact.

No longer can we examine performance annually or conduct the annual employee engagement survey

This type philosophical shift isn’t anything new to organizations. Twenty-five years ago, the concept of ‘Supplier Relationship Management’ (SRM) was a major focus of companies: the goal was how to maximize our knowledge, relationship, and the value we provide and get from our suppliers.

Fifteen years ago, was a big part of the ‘Customer Relationship Management’ (CRM) movement that focused on maximizing the knowledge, relationship, and the value we provide and get from our customers.

These two eras focused on real-time communication, conversation, predictive analytics, and everything around maximizing those two very important elements of business. I think we’re entering the next phase: Employee Relationship Management (or ERM).

Why have the ‘procurement’ or ‘customer service’ roles taken a prominent role in companies?  They are the internal liaison between what you’re trying to accomplish.

The thing to be 'leveraged'

When it comes to employees, HR gets the responsibility, but it’s really the manager that needs to be leveraged. The manager works with employees daily, and can have the impact on how employees work.

Reconsider what you do annually and start focusing on your managers being a part of all of your strategic decisions. Not a believer? Read up on the Zappos ‘Holacracy’ experiment.

What is your company doing to shorten the feedback loop and enable managers to be successful?


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