It’s no longer your grandfather’s workforce. How we work, where we work, and why we work have all changed.
As work as we know it evolves, so, too, should the way we engage with employees. Many HR teams have updated their processes and policies in order to attract and retain employees in our current work environment. Things like perks and paid time off have taken center stage in the quest to be an employer of choice to choosy individuals in this tight talent market.
Instead of free lunches and unlimited PTO, could a better performance management approach be the answer? Dive in to find out.
How We Work
You have some direct reports (or not). You have a boss, who used to have your job. And your boss has a boss, who used to have their job. You’re all walking along the same career path, at the same pace. This describes how organizations have traditionally been structured, called a functional hierarchy. While it may work for a select few, for many others it no longer meets the needs of the way we work. In fact, only 24% of large companies consider themselves functionally organized.
Many companies have transitioned to a new model of work based on what Josh Bersin calls a “Network of teams.” This organizational structure takes a cue from other industries who have long relied on a team-based approach. Technology companies pioneered the agile model, bringing together temporary technical teams to develop new products and functionality. And consulting firms have also long operated on a project-based model, assembling teams for client engagements.
While this new model better meets the needs of businesses, it can be problematic from a performance management standpoint. How can managers accurately assess performance when their direct reports regularly work on projects outside of their purview?
The answer? Feedback.
Creating a feedback culture is critical to making an agile organizational structure work. Peer-to-peer feedback, project retrospectives, and employee-requested group feedback all help paint a clearer picture of performance. And with that continuous, multi-directional feedback, managers can get the insights they desperately need to understand their employees’ performance and coach them to improve.
Where We Work
Raise your hand if your entire company works out of the same physical office? Go ahead, we’ll wait.
The reality is that it’s highly unlikely that all employees work in the same location, for many reasons. You might need a developer with a niche skill, and can only find a resource in another city. Or, you may have a tight budget for a graphic designer, and can only make the numbers work if you hire in a city with a lower market rate.
Technology has made it possible for remote teams to not only function, but thrive. Email, text, Slack, Salesforce, Trello. Communication, collaboration, and project management tools all give us the connection we need to be a team and still work independently (and in different locations).
The downside to a scattered or remote workforce is its potentially negative effect to the employee-manager relationship. If you’re not working in the same location as your boss, it can be more difficult for them to see when you’re having challenges, sense when you may be unhappy in your role, or help you celebrate the little wins that help you reach your goals.
The answer? Check-ins. A once-a-year cadence for managers and employees to talk about performance doesn’t work, especially when there are miles between them. More regularly talking about goals, issues, or even ordinary everyday activities keeps managers better connected and in tune with their direct reports. And, a stronger manager-employee relationship keeps employees happier, too.
Why We Work
For today’s employees, it’s not just about a paycheck. Here’s two stats to prove it.
- 90% of employees would give up 23% of their pay for more meaningful work.
- Employees who find work meaningful stay with their companies more than seven months longer than others, put in an extra hour a week, and take two fewer PTO days.
We all want to find meaning in our work, to make the hours we spend away from our family and friends valuable as well. In fact, we published an entire study on how to create meaning for employees at work. So how can you help create meaningful environments for employees? And what’s the role of managers?
The answer? Goals. A modern approach to goals can go a long way to helping employees find meaning. Encouraging employees to set long-term career goals – and keep their career path in mind as they set smaller goals – can drive a deeper connection to their work.