Thursday, November 6, 2008

Response to Jim H's blog 'Keep the Performance Reviews!'

I think we should keep the reviews but with less emphasis on the automation. I’ve heard it argued that canned feedback is better than nothing. This is probably true but there is sufficient research to indicate that personal recognition makes people feel valued, which can be more motivating than cash. I would therefore argue that better than nothing is not good enough.

Talent management is a human problem first and a software problem second. So far the leading talent management solutions have not solved the problem of poor management, which seems like a pretty important problem to solve if you want to attract, retain and motivate good people. Note that poor management can manifest in many ways, from failure to weed out poor performers to vague, confusing or conflicting corporate objectives, and automated performance reviews in a poor management environment will at best create some baby steps in the right direction and at worst bog everyone down in pointless activity.

Not that this is a criticism of talent management solutions because in all fairness, management of people isn’t a software problem. The criticism is that leading talent management solutions have implied that automating talent management processes is some sort of recipe for better management. The real solution is better management, which can’t be installed.

A performance review done well, with an emphasis on the people involved rather than complex cascading goals and what percentage of reviews are complete, can be tremendously value adding for everyone involved. So, I agree we should keep the reviews. But I think that the value add comes when people have an honest, constructive interaction that results in the right people being recognized and/or rewarded, not from the automation.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Is Talent Management getting away from automation?

A recent AMR report 'When Performance Management Worlds Collide, Business Will Benefit' made an interesting point that we are seeing a shift from automation to intelligence. According to this report, the key to great performance is the collision of personal, financial and operational goals and there's a great little diagram to illustrate these three things colliding.

There are also several good points made about keeping it simple and a great case study of a company using Success Factors to automate reviews and ending up with over 1000 unaligned goals.

OK I'm cherry picking the stuff I like here, but you get the idea.

Mind you, the report is a little vague about how this whole fusion of performance indicators into one holistic model thing actually works but I thought the general idea was on track.

While I've never been a huge fan of automating processes that depend on human interaction, I wonder if we aren't still putting the cart before the horse. Certainly the company and team performance are invaluable data points for a successful performance review but is that the chicken or the egg?

If you hire good people, give them clear objectives and treat them well financial performance will follow. What I'm saying is, most companies don't need some grandiose complicated new way to mash up performance indicators, they just need to treat their people well, treat their customers well, keep a reasonable eye on expenses and know what business they're in.

Or maybe that's a simpler way of saying the same thing.

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