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Performance Management in a Hybrid Work Environment



The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many organisations and their employees to consider alternative work arrangements, thus accelerating the adoption of the hybrid work model in Singapore. Performance Management is far from being a new concept – and though it has been around since the early 20th century, organisations may need to update their Performance Management Systems to evolve with the hybrid work trend in order to effectively measure employee performance.


What is a Performance Management System?


A Performance Management System is a process that looks at meeting a number of important objectives with respect to human capital management, such as motivating performance, building a performance culture, determining promotions, identifying poor performers, and aligning performance to rewards. While a Performance Management System has the potential to accomplish these objectives and make a positive contribution to organisational effectiveness, there is less clarity about what practices make a performance management system effective.


Although there are many other components to consider when looking at a Performance Management System (feedback, assessments and goal-setting being the commonly assessed components), there are two key components to a robust Performance Management System:

  1. Goals: Identifying what are the measures and targets that employees should strive for.

  2. Core competencies: Identifying how employees can achieve performance, which should also accompany the behaviours expected of employees.


As performance is usually outcome- or results-driven, it is important to ensure that an organisation’s Performance Management System can properly manage and measure employee performance.


Performance Management in a Hybrid Work Model


The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted how organisations are operating, and with Flexible Working Arrangements (FWA) and remote work being increasingly implemented, there is a need for Performance Management Systems to better respond to the current working arrangements.


Although the key aspects of Performance Management Systems remain the same in a hybrid work model, it does require that leaders be more mindful of how they communicate performance expectations to their employees. When Key Performance Indicators/Key Result Areas are correctly set, managing tasks should be of lesser importance. An organisation that can support its hybrid model should collectively comprehend or are agreeable to the following assumptions:

  1. Supervisors should empower their team sufficiently.

  2. There is a fair level of trust within the team.

  3. Individuals are ultimately responsible and accountable for their achievement of the desired outcomes.


If this is understood by employers and employees alike, an organisation can then effectively implement a Performance Management System in a FWA setting. Consequently, the practices that assist in assessing employee performance should align with the assumptions. These practices are typically well-established:

  • Supervisors know how to set clear goals and communicate them to their teams.

  • There is a clear system to measure and monitor these goals so that employees and their supervisors are both aware of whether the goals are being achieved.

  • There is a clear process of action-planning and review of the plans to achieve the goals.

  • There are regular conversations around the plans and adjustments to the plans in its aim to achieve the goals.

  • New norms and expected behaviours are clearly defined across various staff levels.


An effective Performance Management System not only ensures alignment of expectations to staff across all levels, but also gives management the ability to fairly link performance results to rewards.

A Culture that Supports Performance in a Hybrid Work Model


As crucial as setting clear goals is in a hybrid work environment, the way employees work together is of equal importance as achieving individual and organisational success. An organisational culture of openness, transparency and fairness needs to be emphasised even more to further ensure that individuals can be fairly assessed based on the goals set.


When more employees are demanding remote work and more employers are also open to instituting it, complications can come into the mix as both parties adjust to online engagement instead of a traditionally physical workplace. As leaders plan around a flexible working environment and weigh the long-term impact of hybrid work on organisational culture and cohesiveness, employee engagement becomes pivotal.


However, how performance is managed will require some change in a FWA setting, which could include the following:

  • Individuals are aware of goals set regardless of work location, and consistently keep an open feedback loop.

  • Supervisors proactively engage employees to get regular updates, but also look into performance management as part of regular check-ins with their employees.

  • Supervisors maintain open communication where performance is regularly assessed and feedback is given by both employers and employees, as it helps build mutual trust.

  • New norms and rules of engagement are well articulated so that supervisors and employees are clear of each other’s expectations on how to work effectively in a hybrid mode.

  • Organisations implement the right tools that allow employees to achieve their goals in a hybrid work environment (i.e. online learning and training platforms or hybrid learning opportunities that can be accessed round the clock).

  • Proper recognition of employees (who meet their targets) that help with talent retention as they are more likely to feel appreciated and of value to the organisation.


When performance management is implemented well, appraisal results are transparent and fair, the occurrence of favouritism and gossip among employees will likely be reduced and may have a positive effect on employee performance. Work can also become more meaningful when there are clear goals to work towards based on individual motivations, and employees can then feel more engaged as they satisfy their needs for belongingness, competence, achievement and control.


Technology Platforms that help


A key implementation to consider is the support of a technology enabler. Can your existing system facilitate your performance management process? Whether the organisation implements performance feedback as a yearly or bi-yearly event, or if there are regular check-in conversations being initiated to discuss performance, an appropriate technology enabler can assist in facilitating the process.


Choosing the right technology is an important decision as it will have a significant impact on the productivity that can be felt not only by the HR team, but also by the whole organisation. When supervisors and employees have to bear the pain of form-filling, performance management can be perceived as a chore as opposed to a process that adds value to the organisation and aids employees in achieving the goals set. As much as possible, refrain from making performance management a cumbersome, stress-inducing procedure.


In general, there are a couple of key types of technology enablers that support performance management through different modes of facilitation:


1. Facilitates the Assessment of Goals and Competencies Periodically

These platforms facilitate the traditional performance appraisal conducted yearly, bi-annually or quarterly (depending on the organisation’s requirements). There are a variety of platforms, with some enabling 360-degree feedback and some having limited capabilities. The more sophisticated systems are able to support the set-up of different weightage for different KPIs, and enable HR to moderate scores and generate an overall performance grading. An example of such a platform is WhyzeHR, a HRMS most suited for Singapore-based businesses that are looking to enhance their Performance Management System, and are not yet ready for regular feedback and performance check-ins. Moreover, WhyzeHR is developed with advanced internet security technologies to deliver both reliability and flexibility to HR across various industries.


2. Facilitates Setting and Monitoring of Goals or Key Result Areas

Platforms such as entomo can be linked to existing systems that collect data related to the organisation goals (i.e. performance data such as sales and productivity data). This allows supervisors and employees to monitor and track their performance on a single platform and facilitate regular check-ins and conversations around performance achievements. Additionally, these platforms can also facilitate 360- degree feedback (of goals as well as competencies) on a regular basis and enable management to assess and consolidate employees performance to align to rewards.


Whether or not an organisation is working in the regular or hybrid settings, aAdvantage believes that management is able to mitigate misalignments and avoid the perceived issue of ‘unfairness’ if they can:

  • Clearly communicate what is expected of the staff

  • Articulate the desired performance outcomes and desired behaviours that align with the organisation’s culture

  • Initiate frequent informal or formal conversations between management and employees, be it online or physically


Clear Performance Management Systems should be put in place to minimise disagreements during employee appraisals, or disputes regarding the quality of staff performance. One of the solutions aAdvantage offers is helping companies design the best approach to their performance management from the early stages of determining performance indicators and competencies. Likewise, platforms such as WhyzeHR or entomo help implement the performance management tracking once the parameters are set by the company.


Get in touch with our certified and experienced culture consultants and facilitators today at enquiries@aadvantage-consulting.com.


 

Jacqueline Gwee, Director and Founder, aAdvantage Consulting Group Pte Ltd


Jacqueline is Director and Founder of aAdvantage Consulting. She has over 25 years of broad-based human resource, change management and business excellence consulting experience in both the public and private sectors. Prior to founding aAdvantage Consulting, Jacqueline was with the consulting practices of Big 4 consulting firms focussing on organisational development and change management. Jacqueline has advised companies on best practices in organisational development and how human capital strategies align to support business success. Jacqueline currently leads the Research & Insights, Human Capital & Culture Transformation Solutions within aAdvantage Consulting.

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