Performance Enablement: A Next-Generation People Practice

HR has moved far beyond the traditional performance management practices introduced decades ago. Greg Pryor discusses a new performance approach we recently piloted at Workday using our Workday Human Capital Management application.

In my role on Workday’s People and Purpose team, I have the incredible privilege to ideate, innovate, and incubate next-generation employee experiences and people practices. With the business landscape evolving at an accelerated pace—impacting both work and the workforce—organizations are rethinking their approach to people practices and considering how technology can accelerate their journeys and enable their people.

Business and human capital management practices have evolved significantly from where they were decades ago when the heritage performance management practices were first introduced. Today a shift in the fundamental nature of work, new technology, and the needs of new generations are changing how work gets done, employees engage, and organizations operate. As a result, companies are reimagining performance management—moving past annual performance reviews and employee rankings to focus on what employees can do to increase their contributions in the future, instead of proving what they’ve done in the past.

At Workday we have joined many of these companies to experiment, explore, and pilot a new performance approach. As we simplified, unified, and aligned our practices with our culture, one key takeaway was the need and opportunity to shift from managing performance to enabling performance. While this change in approach is captured in a word, its impact can be profound.

The Five Factors Enabling Employee Success

After reviewing classic and contemporary research on the way people want to work, we have been enabling our employees and managers to focus on the Five Factors that fuel employee success —enable contribution, grow capabilities, empower career, deepen connections, and align compensation and recognition.

Enabling our managers and employees to apply these Five Factors on an ongoing basis ensures that each employee has the tools needed to deliver results while pursuing their career interests. Empowered by a cadence of conversations including one-on-ones, career check-ins, and team meetings, we appreciate the importance of creating a feedback-rich culture designed to enable performance and collective success. As a result, employees will be better supported to pursue their career interests, grow their capabilities and professional connections within an organization, and receive compensation and recognition based on their relative contributions to the business.

Empowering the shift from heavy HR-driven process to always available employee-empowered practices, our product team has been building new features into Workday Human Capital Management to support the Five Factors. We now provide our customers with an HCM application toolset capable of supporting various performance processes, regardless of whether they use an ongoing check-in model or follow an annual review process.

Here are a few examples of toolset enabling performance within the Five Factors:

  • Contribution: By adding goals into Workday (with input from their managers), employees can better understand their current objectives and expectations, easily tracking and promoting their achievements in the system.
  • Capabilities: With the Competency Assessment Radar Chart, employees understand their strengths and growth areas based on feedback from managers. Taking this one step further, Workday Learning can recommend relevant content to help grow certain skills or prepare them for the next role.
  • Career: To help employees think about their next move or how to grow their careers, the Opportunity Graph shows the job moves of others who have held similar roles. Employees can see how their peers and mentors have grown and moved organically within the company, so they can understand possible career paths.
  • Connections: Deepening relationships with peers is critical to increasing employee engagement and delivering business results. Through the Connections/Mentoring feature, employees can add a person to their network as a connection as well as select a mentor with specific skills and experiences to hone in on the areas of the business they want to better understand.
  • Compensation: Employees want to be fairly rewarded for their contributions. The compensation functionality within Workday HCM enables a manager to gain insight into performance and make comparisons across the team to ensure compensation funds are spent effectively. This is all done within a configurable decision environment that reflects your company’s pay philosophy, so managers are given the guidance they need to make the right calls.

Measuring Performance

In addition, employees can see a summary of this valuable data and have a better understanding of where they stand in terms of performance in the Talent and Performance Dashboard. This provides a snapshot view of performance-related tasks, with a visual summary of goals, connections, strengths, and growth opportunities.

And employees aren’t the only ones who benefit from this performance insight—managers can use Surveys to measure their effectiveness by collecting feedback and gauging overall team sentiment and health.

Having technology in place to support our practice is exciting, but we also place high importance on measuring the outcomes of these performance-enabling activities. To kick this off, within Workday we having been working with my friends at Great Place to Work to apply a Best Workday Employee survey, to help us provide our people managers companywide with insights into how well they enable the Five Factors for their employees. We shared individual survey results directly with each manager during our first People Leadership Summit, and discussed ways to improve leadership, feedback, and career-coaching skills together.

While we’ve opted to use employee feedback to measure outcomes, other organizations can decide the best method of measurement that fits their approach to performance and company culture. The most important thing is to ensure that managers are enabling their people and consistently improving their skills and using the full portfolio of tools to set employees up for success.

I truly believe that an organization’s people practices should be uniquely aligned to reinforce their specific culture and values. There is no one-size-fits-all philosophy or approach, but we now have the technology to support the approach that’s right for your organization, whether it’s continuous feedback, quarterly check-in, or an annual review.

If you want to hear more about my experience shifting to Performance Enablement, I hope you will enjoy this episode of Work Talk.  I look forward to hearing from our customers about their experiences with these new tools, and I hope that we can all learn from each other and share the practices that ultimately enable our people.

(This post was updated on May 5, 2017.)

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