The Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) periodically measures organizations at all performance levels, and finds in a recent critical issues survey that high-performance organizations are taking a more proactive approach to preparing their workforces for what’s to come. i4cp’s research on the performance management practices most strongly correlated to market performance shows that several are also important contributors to the organizational agility. For example, ongoing goal review and feedback provides opportunities to recognize new realities and shifting priorities and to make necessary adjustments in goals and methods. Developmental plans for each period ensure focus and progress on acquiring new skills and experiences. This creates a mindset of continuous learning and ongoing development, which are both critical enablers of individual agility and resilience. Goal setting for the upcoming timeframe ensures that individual goals change and adapt to major shifts in the business environment.
An exemplar of effective performance management in practice is Corning. The leadership team at the company is highly involved in the PM process and participates in competency identification, calibration sessions, goal alignment, critical metrics discussions and progress reviews in open forums. Practices such as these, along with virtual town hall meetings or Q&A lunch sessions, enable employees to see and hear that leaders back PM’s importance. Furthermore, top executives’ recognition of employee success stories and customer accolades help to connect personal efforts with key corporate success measures.
The research findings and insights presented in this paper suggest the following actions to increase organizational preparedness and ability to respond to change:
1. Shift the focus of HR from talent management to managing talent – Promote a business-centric, outside-in view of the capabilities needed to maximize talent performance. Make sure they are tied directly to measures of market success.
2. Develop agility in leaders and workers – Individuals at all levels of the organization can be trained to think and behave in ways that promote agility. Invest in specific training initiatives such as one-on-one coaching, workshops and action learning programs. Promote talent mobility to build experience with change and increase the organizational flexibility of talent deployment.
3. Build strategic workforce planning capabilities – This should include operational workforce planning to support day-to-day activities, tactical workforce planning to manage the business and strategic workforce planning to ensure the ability to anticipate and respond to shifts in market demand, as well as mitigate business risk.
4. Focus on critical roles and performance throughout the entire organization – This will require an expansion of succession planning focus and capabilities in many organizations. Define key roles wherever they exist in the organization, not just at the top. Once completed, focus on the critical skills needed for these roles, and lastly the individuals that currently demonstrate them or have the capacity to develop them. Performance management should be adjusted to promote agility. Review and feedback must be frequent to help staff stay in tune with shifting priorities. Sight lines of development plans should be short to enable frequent adjustments if needed. Strategic and tactical goals need to be constantly checked to ensure alignment.