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    Entries in performance (57)

    Wednesday
    Jun132018

    A reminder to evaluate the work, not just the person doing the work

    Here's a super interesting story from the art world that I spotted in the New York Times and is titled The Artwork Was Rejected. Then Banksy Put His Name To It.

    The basics of the story, and they seem to be undisputed, are these:

    1. The British Royal Academy puts on an annual Summer Exhibition or Art, and anyone is allowed to submit a piece of art for consideration to be included in the exhibition.

    2. The anonymous, but incredibly famous, artist Banksy submitted a painting, but under a (different) pseudonym - 'Bryan S. Gaakman' - which is an anagram for 'Banksy anagram'.

    3. 'Gaakman's' submission was declined inclusion in the exhibit by the event's judges.

    4. One of the event's judges, contacted Banksy (how one contacts Banksy was not fully explained), to inquire if the famous artist had a submission for the exhibit. This judge did not know that 'Gaakman' was actually Banksy.

    5. Banksy submitted a very slightly altered version of the 'Gaakman' piece to the exhibit - and was accepted for the show. Basically, the same art from 'unknown artist' was declined, but for the famous Banksy it was deemed worthy.

    What can we take away from this little social experiment? Three things at least. 

     

    1. We always consider 'who' did the work along with the work itself, when assessing art, music, or even the weekly project status report. We judge, at least a little, on what this person has done, or what we think they have done, in the past.

    2. Past 'top' or high performers always get a little bit of a break and the benefit of the doubt. It happens in sports, when close calls usually go in favor of star players, and it happens at work, where the 'best' performers get a little bit more room when they turn in average, or even below average work. They have 'earned' a little more wiggle room that newer, or unproven folks. This isn't always a bad thing, but it can lead to bad decisions sometimes.

    3. What we want, as managers, is good, maybe even great 'work'. But what the organization needs is great 'performers'. Great performers don't always do great work, but over time their contributions and results add up to incredible value for the organization. So in order to ensure that the organization can turn great 'work' into great (and sustainable) long-term performance, every once in a while less than great work, turned in by a great performer, needs to get a pass. Take the long view if you know what I mean.

    That's it for me - have a great day!

    Wednesday
    Apr252018

    The downside of performance transparency

    Openness, transparency, shared and socialized goals - and progress towards attainment of those goals are all generally seen as positive influences on workplaces, organizational culture, and individual performance. We seem to value and appreciate a better understanding of what other folks are working on, how our own projects fit in with the overall organization, and probably more than anything else - we like the idea that performance management, ratings, promotions, and compensation are, above all else, "fair". And when we have that better sense of what people are working on, how much progress is being made, who in the organization is succeeding, (and when we believe the metrics that define success are also clear and visible), it seems logical that it will translate to increased engagement, productivity, and overall positive feelings about work and the organization.

    But, (and you knew there had to be a but), sometimes, openness, transparency, and increased visibility to employee performance and the ability to compare employee performance can drive undesired and even detrimental employee behaviors. And a combination of performance visibility along with the wrong or even misguided employee goals can lead to some really unfortunate outcomes.

    Example: What happened when surgeons in the UK began to me measured primarily on patient mortality and these measurements were made much more visible. 

    From a 2016 piece in the UK Telegraph:

    At least one in three heart surgeons has refused to treat critically ill patients because they are worried it will affect their mortality ratings if things go wrong.

    Patients have been able to see league tables showing how well surgeons perform since 2014.

    But consultant cardiac surgeon Samer Nashef warned that increased transparency had led to doctors gaming the system to avoid poor scores.

    Just under one third of the 115 specialists who responded to Nashef's survey said they had recommended a different treatment path to avoid adding another death to their score. And 84 percent said they were aware of other surgeons doing the same.

    So to re-set - UK surgeons were measured on surgical patient mortality outcomes. These outcomes were highly visible in the industry and by the public. And, as humans always seem to learn really quickly, surgeons began to 'game' the system by increasingly avoiding riskier surgeries for the sickest, neediest patients so as not to negatively impact their own ratings. So the sickest patients, with the most difficult cases found it harder to get the treatment they almost certainly needed. And the best, most talented surgeons, who should have taken up these complex cases, learned to avoid them, or pass them off to other, less talented doctors.

    So the combination of the wrong, or at least imperfect performance metric, (surgical mortality), with the desire (however well-intentioned) to make doctor performance against this imperfect metric more transparent and visible serve to incent the wrong behaviors in doctors, and reduce the overall quality of care to patients - particularly the ones who were in the most dire circumstances.

    The lessons or takeaways from this story?

    Be really careful when making employee performance measurements open and transparent across the organization and beyond.

    Be even more careful if you decide to focus on a single performance metric, that the metric is actually one that is meaningful and relevant to your organization's customers (and isn't one that can be gamed).

    And finally, before you do either of the first two things, you spend some quality time with your organization's best performers to figure out what it is they focus on, how they measure themselves, and how they make sure they are providing the best service possible.

    Chances are, in the UK surgeon case, none of the best surgeons would have said they became great surgeons by avoiding the most difficult cases.

    That's it, I am out - have a great day.

    Thursday
    Mar012018

    Learn a new word: Abstinence Violation Effect

    No, it's got nothing to do with THAT, get your minds out of the gutter for a minute.

    I admit to not being familiar with this term until seeing the accounts of the demise of former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo's new venture - an app called Chorus. Chorus was a kind of a social fitness app where groups of friends would sign up/join up together, share their goals for exercise and other healthy behaviors, and remain motivated to keep up with these goals leveraging their friends on the app to keep them going (and accountable).

    The idea for Chorus was that once your fitness goals were social and semi-public, you wouldn't want to let down your team and friends, (and risk some level of open embarrassment), by slacking off, or not keeping your commitments.

    But as it turned out, at least for Chorus users, this wasn't enough to keep users of the app from continuing to engage with their goals and their teams. Once users began to fall behind, maybe due to illness or travel or work or because exercising is a real drag sometimes, they simply stopped checking in on the app altogether. You could say they ghosted their fitness teams. They would not come back to the app once they had felt like they failed, (and everyone else on the team knew).

    Turns out this phenomenon has a name, (who knew?), called the Abstinence Violation Effect which can be described as when people hide from their support group (exercisers, people trying to quit smoking, people who buy too many pairs of sneakers) when when they fail to meet the group's expectations, instead of turning to the social group for help during these periods.

    The Chorus app users who had lapsed in meeting their fitness goals never really came back to the app, and since everyone who has ever tried to stick with an exercise regimen has likely lapsed at one point, the demise of the app was pretty explainable.

    Why bring this up, i.e. why should you care?

    Probably just to serve as a reminder that just having a support group in place and available isn't enough for a person who really needs help - to exercise, to quit a bad habit, to start a better habit, etc. Just being there isn't going to help the person who has really withdrawn.

    Setting smaller, tangible  goals along the way, with regular check-ins and rewards for effort and progress is probably going to give the user, (and the team) a better chance to remain engaged with the overall goals and with each other as a group.

    The support group isn't there to 'help you get healther' it is there to help you walk 5,000 steps this Wednesday, to buy some healthy snacks on Friday, and to go with you while you attend a yoga class on Saturday morning. These kinds of small, incremental, but tangible kinds of things can help both parties remain connected and accountable to each other.

    It is really easy to ghost a support group whose purpose is to 'help you get healthier'.

    It is much harder to pull a no-show at a Yoga class on a Saturday morning when your workout pal is already there at the studio waiting for you.

    Interesting stuff. And in case you were wondering, yes, I have purchased too many pairs of sneakers.

    Have a great day!

    Friday
    Feb162018

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 311 - Creating a Culture of Performance Based on Feedback

    HR Happy Hour 311 - Creating a Culture of Performance Based on Feedback

    Host: Steve Boese

    Guest: Marie-Claire Barker, Global Chief Talent Officer, Wavemaker

    Listen to the show HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve is joined by Marie-Claire Barker, Global Chief Talent Officer at Wavemaker. a  global media, content, and technology agency to talk about modern approaches to performance management and creating a culture of feedback.

    Wavemaker is a 8,500 person strong, global organization serving many of the world's leading brands, and recruits and develops talented people across many domains - creative, technical, and people who can envision and develop a shared future with their clients. 

    On the show, Marie-Claire shared how at Wavemaker they have developed and implemented an intentional, performance-driven culture, where organizational and individual goals are visible and shared, feedback (both public and private), is a point of emphasis and leveraged for professional measurement as well as personal growth, and how this culture of feedback and transparency contributes to organizational and client success. This is one of the best examples of how a traditional 'HR' process like performance management has been re-imagined and turned into not just an 'HR' program, but rather a key driver of business and operational success. 

    Marie-Claire shared how this culture has and is impacting the organization positively, as well as some advice for HR leaders who want to re-invent performance management too.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below:

    This was an interesting and informative show - thanks Marie-Claire for joining us.

    And thanks to HR Happy Hour Show sponsor Virgin Pulse - www.virginpulse.com.

    Reminder to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, or wherver you get your podcasts - just search for 'HR Happy Hour'.

     

    Postscript: On the show, Marie-Claire mentioned Reflextive, the software tool they use at Wavemaker for employee goals and feedback. Refelktive has been an HR tech startup success story and just announced new funding this week.

    Wednesday
    Feb152017

    I know he has the title, but is he believable?

    I'm sure you've seen reports of the numerous large and some high-profile organizations that are altering or outright scrapping traditional, ratings-centric performance management processes to move towards a more nimble, flexible, and frequently centered around coaching and development. More forward-looking as opposed to scoring the past as it were.

    While the actual results of these new, 'no more ratings' performance programs have so far been mixed at best, it does seem likely that this trend will continue for a little while longer anyway. And one of the by products of these kinds of programs ironically enough, is the generation of more 'perfomance' data, not less, or at least more than in a traditional annual review process. In these new programs, check-ins, kudos, 'real-time' feedback comments, 1-1 meetings, and even micro bonuses or awards will be happening all year long, will need to be soted, assessed, and made sense of in order for these programs to deliver on their goals - namely improved business and individual performance.

    I was thinking about this when reading about how one firm, Bridgewater Associates is taking this idea of high-frequency, real-time, and highly data driven approaches to employee performance and development to an incredibly detailed level. 

    You should read the entire piece, but here is a snippet from Business Insider piece that sheds a little color on how the firm uses data points on 100+ traits to rate, evaluate, and assess their staff:

    Every employee has a company-issued iPad loaded with proprietary apps. One of them, called "Dots," contains a directory of employees and options to weigh in on various elements of each person's work life, categorized in values, abilities, skills, and track record.

    There are more than 100 attributes in total, but the collections of attributes are customized to roles in the company, in the sense that an investor's performance would not be measured according to the same traits that would be used to measure a recruiter's performance.

    Employees are free to use Dots whenever they'd like, when they want to praise or criticize a colleague for a particular action.

    The numerical value of these Dots is considered along with performance reviews, surveys, tests, and ongoing feedback and averaged into public "baseball card" profiles for every employee. The profiles get their name from the list of attributes and corresponding ratings, the same way a baseball card would list something like a player's batting average accompanied by a brief description of their career.

    These are then brought into play in meetings where decisions are being made. Using their iPads, colleagues will vote on certain choices, and in the system of believability-weighted decision making, each vote will have a weight depending on the individual's baseball card and the nature of the question.

    "A person's believability is constantly relevant," Prince said. "In a meeting, it is relevant to things like how you self-regulate your own engagement in a discussion, how the person running the meeting manages the discussion, and in actual decisions. At all times a person should be assessing their own believability so that they can function well as part of a team."

    There's a lot to unpack there, and I am fairly sure that this kind of pervasive, detailed, transparent, and for many, scary, kind of performance/evaluation scheme would not work at most places and for most people. But I think there are (at least) two key features of this system that any organization should think about in terms of their own performance processes.

    The first is that the 'Dots' app has the ability to collect, synthesize, and make sense of the many thousands of data points that are generated each year for every employee. So that these interactions, assessments, and bits of feedback are not wasted, or pass off into the ether shortly after they are created. In this way the firm continues to build valuable intelligence about its people and their capability over time. 

    And secondly, this information is taken into account when decisions are being made. So that if you have built up credibility over time on a particular subject, your opinion or vote on issues related to that subject carries proportionally more weight than someone less experienced or believable on that issue, regardless of position or title. This data-driven approach to 'Who should we believe about this?' helps the firm guard against 'loudest voice in the room wins' trap that many organizations fall prey to.

    Really interesting stuff and while maybe being a little too extreme (and disciplined) for most organizations, the Bridgewater approach to performance might give you at least a general idea of where we are heading - a place where every employee action, interaction, and decision is logged, rated, and contributes to their overall profile. And where that profile is taken into account when decisions need to be made. 

    Good stuff for a Wednesday. Have a great day!