(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by our friends at Kronos, a leading provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions. Kronos was honored for the second consecutive year with a Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award as one of the Best Places to Work in 2019. Congrats to them and enjoy the article!)
I know the title of today’s post might seem obvious but achieving it can be harder than it looks. Employee performance is contingent on understanding what good performance looks like. It means the company’s performance standards must be clear. It also means that managers can both articulate and evaluate those standards.
To me, employee performance standards are similar to competencies. Both performance standards and competencies include knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs). They’re linked to organizational KPIs (key performance indicators) – a business metric that determines if the company is achieving its goals.
Performance standards help to set expectations and provide consistency. They drive the consumer and employment brand. They contribute to the customer, employee, and candidate experience. Here’s an example: I once worked at a company that said the telephone needed to be answered within three rings. That was the performance standard. Managers were able to communicate the standard and could tell when the standard wasn’t being followed. In addition, employees knew the standard and also recognized when the standard wasn’t being followed.
Now you might be saying, “Sharlyn, that was simply answering the phone. No biggie.” But in the company that I worked for, it was a big deal. The company felt that customers got angrier the longer the phone wasn’t answered. They felt it was a sign of disrespect. So, hearing the phone ring wasn’t a good thing around the office. What was a good thing is that everyone knew the standard and made sure that, if a co-worker couldn’t answer the phone, they would answer it. Managers didn’t have to beg employees to answer the phone. Everyone knew the standard and they followed it.
Managers don’t want to police company policies.
So, where am I going with this? Well, as a human resources professional, I hear from other HR pros on a regular basis that they don’t want to become the company’s police department for dress code policies, missing breakroom lunches, and office drama. HR wants to play a proactive role in helping employees succeed.
In fact, no one wants the job of policing company policies. Including department managers. It’s a waste of their time and company resources. What isa good use of manager time is coaching employees who need support improving their performance. Whether that’s because the employee’s current performance doesn’t meet the company’s standard OR because the employee has the capability of exceeding the standard.
Having managers spend time coaching helps raise overall performance levels and benefits the company’s bottom-line. Unfortunately, over the years, managers have been trained to spend more time learning how to police policies then truly coaching employees. But the good news is that companies can change that.
The key to this transformation of making managers coaches begins with organizations providing the right tools, especially when it comes to clearly understanding and communicating performance standards. I recently had an opportunity to test drive a new solution from our friends at Kronos called Employee Perspectives.
Employee Perspectives uses predictive analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze the huge amounts of transactional data that organizations creating on a continual basis. By transactional data, I’m referring to general employee data like:
- Human Capital Management (HCM) data such as hire date, department, length of employment, and job responsibilities
- Workforce Management (WFM) information like last shift, next shift, last day off, time off requests, shift swaps
What we’re talking about here is utilizing all the valuable WFM information that typically only gets looked at when we’re calculating accruals, etc. Then add to it the HCM data (i.e.how long the employee has worked for the company, the types of and frequency of trainings and certifications, the last time they received a raise and for how much, when they may get a raise in the future, and how many candidate referrals they’ve submitted, etc.). The result is evidence-based insights into workforce areas such as employee performance, fatigue, succession readiness, and even engagement.
You guys know that I’ve worked with Kronos for a long time. Because of their position in the market as the leader in workforce management, they are uniquely positioned to capture and analyze this data. And with their rapid expansion into HCM, they can be a partner to HR by providing a data-driven approach to traditional employee-centric processes that, while important, are often based on anecdotal evidence. The reason they can do this is because the company’s HR, workforce management, and payroll solutions run on a single, unified database, providing an accurate, real-time view of information.
While the solution does many things, my big takeaway was its ability to define company performance standards, which is the key for employee success.
Customized performance standards change performance.
Now that I’ve explained what Employee Perspectives does, here’s how it works: Organizations use Employee Perspectives to identify KSAs. The KSAs are grouped into competencies and assigned a weighted percentage. The competencies can then be used to discuss performance standards. This can be done for both salaried and hourly employees. In talking with Kronos, they believe this focus will help organizations extend high quality performance discussions throughout the entire organization.
In the demo that I participated in we identified safety incidents and fatigue as being KSAs which impact performance. Those two KSAs were grouped under a competency we labeled “risk awareness”. And we assigned fatigue as 60 percent of the competency and safety incidents as 40 percent.
The idea here is that managers and employees understand performance involves being risk aware. The company has some performance standards related to being safe on the job. Managers and employees are aware that fatigue can lead to safety incidents, so the manager and employee will regularly discuss wellness and well-being. (So, employees don’t come to work exhausted and potentially hurt themselves or others.)
Employee Perspectives allows organizations to have these focused performance conversations with employees throughout the employee life cycle – during recruiting, orientation, onboarding, as well as one-on-one meetings. The manager has the responsibility of discussing performance standards and employees become personally accountable for their performance.
Finally, as a bonus, human resources departments can watch for employee performance trends in Employee Perspectives. If they need to propose a learning and development intervention, then they are positioned to take a proactive approach. Again, the whole notion of policing performance is dealing with things after they happen. Employee Perspectives is about taking a proactive approach to employee performance through the definition of performance standards.
Employees want to perform. Give them the tools.
Let’s face it – performance is important. Organizations want employees to perform at a high level. Managers want that too. And guess what, employees also want it so they can succeed in their roles. We need to give managers and employees the tools to identify and talk about successful performance. That happens when managers become coaches.
If your organization is trying to figure out how managers and HR can spend more time proactively coaching employees on performance, take a moment to demo the Employee Perspectives solution. The customization feature is really a game changer. Organizations have the ability to focus on those performance factors that matter the most to their business. Isn’t that what every company wants? Employees working on those things that matter most.
P.S. I know that I’ve focused on employees and performance in today’s post, but Employee Perspectives can do much more than that. HR leaders can use it to proactively address a variety of workforce trends like employee engagement, absenteeism, and flight risk/turnover. All factors that contribute to performance, but they can be examined individually. Consider setting up a demo so you can see it yourself.12