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Performance Management in a Pandemic: Using Disruption to Boost Effectiveness

25 August 2020

4 Min Read


This is the second of a two-part article on managing performance during a crisis when business objectives—and the skills needed to meet them—are constantly changing.  

As discussed in part one of this article, there are three actions you can take to improve the effectiveness of performance management in the current environment:

  1. Identify areas you can control inside your organization to adapt to the changes outside
  2. Consider a strategic “reset” by assessing the disruption caused by the pandemic and using the lessons learned to your advantage
  3. Assess which human capital elements to disrupt so they align with your continuous change processes

Why disrupt? Because disruption provides opportunities to reevaluate and improve existing processes. Companies that are still using old-school performance management processes should use the disruption from the pandemic as an opportunity to modernize performance management.

As a result, performance, learning, and business goals can be combined, aligned, and continuous to build a successful, agile company.

Leverage the Natural Connection Between Performance and Learning

With constantly changing business objectives, organizations need the right resources to quickly respond. Two resources that can improve a company’s performance management faster than any other are HR and L&D. In most cases, HR handles performance management while L&D handles ongoing learning and development.

Connecting the two enables a continuous cycle of identifying, addressing, and reassessing the skills, competencies, and behaviors needed to align to business objectives. Thus, companies can address their needs through talent development while still meeting business goals.

Making the decision for HR and L&D to join forces could mean the difference between your business moving ahead in a pandemic or falling behind.

Shared Responsibility = Shared Accountability for Success

Performance management processes that have a disconnect between HR and L&D continue to be used but are rarely effective. In Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends survey, the data reflects a growing view that, just as “DevOps” combined software development and IT operations to allow for better success, the responsibility for L&D should also be shared.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents felt that L&D and the business should share responsibility for learning, and 48% of respondents who said learning at their organization was not currently positioned for success also felt it should be shared.

Shared responsibility means that performance management and its processes work in unison with learning and development to create a continuous cycle of identifying and addressing knowledge gaps.

This helps businesses keep up with shifting goals, which is critical during a pandemic when businesses are at the mercy of the latest news, guidelines, and mandates.

Businesses are having to reskill or upskill their entire workforce to effectively adapt to changing needs. The performance management process and learning experience become significantly more effective when HR and L&D work together. It can help you create a culture of continuous learning and agility in the face of change.

Take Advantage of Technology, Especially Now

Performance management, when combined with L&D, is most effective when organizations embrace advances in technology. Technology helps companies fast-track their ability to reassess skills, competencies, and behaviors they need as business objectives shift.

Along with a well-crafted competency framework to help with your company’s “reset” strategy, having access to insightful workforce data is key.

One of the trends highlighted in Deloitte’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends report was about the spotlight COVID-19 is placing on the need for insightful workforce data.

It recommended that organizations leverage the power of technology to access this critical information, by:

  • Identifying the top questions that you should ask to get the insights you need
  • Challenging yourself on whether you’ve been asking the right questions all along
  • Determining whether you have the resources in place to use the data in a way that accurately perceives the state of the organization and workforce

Using technology that provides these valuable insights means companies can rapidly reassess where they stand regarding skills and competencies during a crisis and pivot as needed.

The benefits are threefold: Managers would be better equipped to lead through change, employees would have the know-how to confidently perform their jobs, and organizations would have a reliable system in place to successfully navigate change.

Would you like to learn more about making your performance management process more effective? Watch our on-demand webinar: Handling Performance Reviews During Business Unusual.

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