Envy’s a Little Imp. Be Careful Before You Fall Victim

There’s a little green guy who lives in all our hearts. Usually asleep, he rarely interferes with life, not allowing us to realise how ugly he can truly be. But it’s only when it raises its ugly head that you see that no one is free from his clutches or the wicked whispers he fills your mind with… And if you ask me, I’ll be yet another person to shudder and tell you that identifying this little green monster is not as easy as you think it is. 

It all started when I joined a new job a few years ago. No longer a fresher, self-doubt and low self-esteem were rapidly becoming strangers to me. My newfound confidence was not just because of the promotions. I was being recognised at work and being appreciated too. I thought nothing could go wrong. 

I was very, very wrong. 

My new job, though one of my dreams, proved to be nothing like my old one. For starters, I was a bit too late to the party and the boss had a designated favourite already. Over the days that followed, I did perform well. But it wasn’t really the same without the attention that I was used to. And before I knew it, I was noticing changes that made me feel like a stranger – even in my own body. 

 

Too Busy For You 

 

It all started with me coming up with excuses, and some very silly ones, to avoid helping my abovementioned colleague with anything. It could be something as insignificant like setting up the office printer or something as grave as presenting a pitch together – but whatever the case was, I was always busy. 

Silence To The Rescue 

 

As someone who is not an introvert, making friends in office has never been challenging for me. Neither has striking up conversations to liven up a room. But with my colleague around, I would ensure there was pin-drop silence. After all, what better way to show your displeasure. Eh? 

No Room for Compliments 

 

With everyone telling my colleague how good he was at his job, I figured that there was no need for me to do the same. So every time I had to congratulate him, I would just nod and walk away. 

Comparison Conflicts 

 

So what was so special about my colleague that he was considered to be better than me? I was so sure that there was nothing he could do that I couldn’t do better. So I strived to prove my worth, often losing sight of my goals in favour of a satiated ego… 

I wish I could tell you all about my moment of truth born of self-reflection that made me steps towards becoming a better person because that, quite frankly, would have been a more inspiring story. But unfortunately, my moment of truth arrived only when my boss decided to have a little chat with him. You see, my behaviour with my over-achieving colleague was so starkly different from my behaviour with others, it was pretty noticeable! 

It was then that I realised how wrong I had been. While snappy retorts have a charm of their own, when used mindlessly, they just come across as bitter, mean and self-centred. Not the best qualities to parade about in the office, I assure you. 

Accepting that someone like me could be envious wasn’t easy at all. All my life I had heard about how toxic an emotion it was, but there I was, succumbing to it, without knowing much about what to do to make it better. 

But I knew I had to try. 

I started with talking to myself and accepting the insecurities that made me lash out against my colleague. Then came the part where I told myself about the insecurities that come with a new job – and even though some bits might come across as threatening, it will all get better with time. At the end of the day, there still was so much I didn’t know about my colleague, but all I had chosen was hostility because I doubted if the management was truly being fair to all employees. 

Years later, when I started using Dockabl I realised that there is a rather simple solution for the likes of me, struggling to come to terms with feeling envious at work: Transparency. 

With Dockabl, not only are you allowed to effortlessly allowed to set up and keep track of your tasks, but you can also get to know how the rest of your team is progressing with their work, as well as how soon they are meeting deadlines. While that might come across as boring to most, it definitely is quite an effective tool to answer questions that arise from envy within the workplace. 

And in case your jealousy is stemming from feeling under-appreciated, Dockabl can help with that as well. With its unique rewarding system, you stand to earn points with every little milestone you achieve and redeeming those points can get you something that you’re guaranteed to love. 

Sounds better than giving in to jealousy. Does it not? 

Did you know that there’s more to being a good boss than great jokes?

10 years ago I was just another wide-eyed fresher, in awe of a whole new world and of course, super excited about all that lay in store for me. But to be honest, that wasn’t all that I felt. Along with the excitement, I was engulfed with confusion. You see, I knew nothing about having a job and being good at it. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to be good at it at all… 

Over the years, not only did I learn what it is like to have a job, I learned quite a bit about my industry and of course learned that – universities might teach you enough to land you a job of your dreams, but they don’t teach you some rather important nuances about life at work. For example, the importance of being appreciated. 

When I think about the days of being a fresher, I remember that I used to be worried all the time. Why would I not be? I was finally getting a taste of the real world and I wasn’t sure if I was doing anything right at all! 

But before I could give in to anxiety, I experienced my first ever feedback meeting with my boss. Though I had heard all about the joys of corporate life and was prepared to be ignored, things did not quite go that way. Instead, my boss decided to sit me down and give me some feedback about my work. Obviously, it wasn’t the most important feedback, but in ways, it was the most valuable one. You see, that brief meeting of 10 minutes not only helped me understand that I did indeed know how to do my job, it also helped me take the first steps towards becoming confident about what I do. 

Sadly, not all stories go like mine. Over the years, I have seen others like me, fall prey to being under-appreciated at work and losing not just motivation, but also confidence entirely. Though it might not seem very important, feeling appreciated at work is rather important when it comes to productivity. 

Working in an office usually means being a part of a team. While the joys of being a part of a team are endless, one of the pitfalls is questioning how much you and your work truly matter in the grand scheme of things. And I always make sure to let my juniors know how important each one of them really is. And it doesn’t take much! 

In fact, some of the best practices that I have learned during the course of my career have been the simplest: 

A compliment a day can keep the blues at bay 

 

See that fresher who spent her whole evening working on the most boring white papers? A simple “good job” could actually make her day. Or what about your junior who aced the presentation? Just because everyone loved it doesn’t mean that they don’t care about what you think. Especially if it’s all good! 

 

Our Team

Let them know that they’re the best at what they do 

 

Every time you delegate a job to someone, it automatically means that you trust their abilities more than their peers. But that doesn’t mean that they will know. So take the time to let them know what about their work you like the best and you’ll see how they shine. 

Don’t forget the TLC

 

Long nights, crunch times and days of not getting back home on time can be a part of “life at work”. Ease it up a bit for your team by not leaving them to get through the worst alone. And if it is an especially hard night, bring in the pizza. Treats are a great way of showing them you care! 

Thank you for thanking them 

 

No job is too small to be ignored. So why should you not appreciate those who are getting them done? While thanking those who are working on larger projects come naturally, never forget those who make the process work by doing their own special bits! 

But just being nice is not enough either. Good feedback is never about appreciating an employee. It is always about helping them gain confidence, getting to love their roles and responsibilities and therefore be accountable about their work. And Dockabl helps you achieve exactly that. 

By setting up and delegating tasks easily, you can not only track what your employees are doing, but also improve the productivity of the team on the whole. By being able to track progress, update objectives and also communicate with your team members seamlessly, both planning and execution become easier than you thought it was. With each feedback module being linked to a project or a skill set, employees get insights and feedback all the time, keeping performance-related doubts they have at bay. 

Easy to use and customize, with Dockabl, you can help your employees be happier, more productive and of course responsible for their work. At the end of the day, their performance depends on how you make them feel!

Have you met Madame Procrastination?

Procrastination is the act of postponing tasks armed with the knowledge that you can “always get it done later”. And when it comes to your workplace, trust us when we say that there’s always more than enough room to procrastinate.

I was rather young, in my early twenties perhaps, when I first encountered Madame Procrastination. All decked up in glittery daydreams and distractions; she was quite certainly one of the most attractive things at work. Oh, the prospects of whiling your time away in between the office walls, preserving your best for the last are rather hard to avoid. So naturally, her followers were plenty and they were happy too! 

Take for example, your super-smart colleague who wastes almost all of their time only to crunch like it’s the end of the world right before a deadline! You know, the guy who is never at the team meetings? What about the other one who is always coming up with excuses for “doing it later”? And let’s not forget the ones who actually tell you that they work better if they waste time. 

Though it might seem mildly (and at times majorly) infuriating to see your colleague waste their time while you slog behind screens, you can rarely shut them up about why we must all Vote for Procrastination. After all, if you are well-versed in the art of delay, you feel that you are equipped to take better, more efficient and creative decisions that help you thrive in your dreary 9-5 job. In fact, believe it or not, hundreds of such individuals exist and firmly believe that the very act of voluntarily delaying their work enables them to tackle challenging deadlines, prioritise work and evade things that are just not important enough. 

While it might seem like a smart solution for individuals to flourish at work by doing the least they can possibly do to survive, what they don’t see is the dark side of procrastination that could lead to utter chaos. Many a times, what starts off as planned procrastination can quickly hurtle down the path of laziness, missed deadlines and a hassled team trying to do all that was left to be done at the last minute. 

If you actually get down to thinking about it, you’ll realise that procrastination never helped anyone the way motivational posts on the internet claimed they could. While losing precious hours is the most obvious drawback of procrastination, missed opportunities and deadlines, a damaged reputation and low-self esteem also make this workplace sin so utterly deadly.

But despite being plagued by procrastination, there is no reason for us to give in and accept it as the order of the day. And at Dockabl, we spent a lot of hours to finally figure out how to fight the evil charms of procrastination. 

Break down work: 

 

Setting up multiple, small tasks might seem futile, but we’ve realised that breaking up a large project into smaller tasks and deadlines keep procrastination at bay. Not only do employees feel less intimidated with smaller deadlines to meet, work pressure is evenly distributed allowing every person involved to realise what an important role they each play. 

 

Track progress: 

 

While tracking adults might come across as insulting to some, for a company, it is quite an invaluable action. Not only do they get to know who’s working earnestly and who are lazing their time away, but it also helps get a clear vision about goals, ensures that no single member of the team is overworked and even helps establish good practices that keep procrastination at bay.

 

Transparency and Accountability: 

 

If your employees believe that the work they do is not important enough, chances are, they will avoid it the best they can. By creating transparent processes that allow employees to manage their work and time better, daily reports become less boring than you expect them to. When everyone joins in to put their best selves forward, chances are, procrastinators will up their game as well. 

 

Rewards for the win

 

Every action has a reaction. And we believe that your work should too. With Dockabl, not only is recognizing hard-working employees a breeze, appreciating them is easier than you think it is. At the end of the day, little rewards can inspire you to DO. 

Mile-wide-inch-deep: Why HR Tech ends up as, “much ado about nothing”

Let me begin by saying that, HR is working hard.

Working hard to pivot. Working hard to become digital. Working hard to keep pace with the Millennials and Gen-Z. Yet, all that hard work, ends up as, “much ado about nothing”. Allow me to explain.

To be fair, in the last 10-15 years or so, HR in India has invested resources in technology. However, the approach HR and service providers have traditionally taken is:

  1. Do-a-bit-of-everything: Typical HR-Tech solutions try to address everything from recruitment, performance management, compensation to training with one “end-to-end solution”.
  1. One-size-fits-all-employees: The only way a solution can address such varied functions en-masse, is treating all employees just the same; i.e. assuming that all employees want the same things, work in the same way, are motivated similarly – and therefore must be managed the same way.

This has led to the generation of mile-wide-inch-deep HR-Tech solutions, offered by biggest players in the market. And for sure, these have made the task of “management” of employees convenient. However, the fact that we have forgotten the core purpose of HR-Tech (an “experience enabler”) and traded it for convenience – is the root of HR-Tech – with all the hype around it – becoming a case of much-ado-about-nothing.

In his white-paper (a highly recommended read), Josh Bersin, argues that while the use of technology systems by employees has increased in the US – the output has only marginally improved. And this is while employees are working longer hours, taking fewer vacations and being stressed – if the burgeoning corporate spent on well-being programs (USD 40 Billion per year) is anything to go by. The story back home is no different, given Indian employees switch more jobs than any other country, and nearly 50% of employees admit to experiencing stress at workplace.

I said it in my previous blog, and I will say it many times over. The idea of “managing employees” simply doesn’t work. Employees expect a certain experience from their workplace. And if they don’t get it, they have the choice to move. A choice, that they are increasingly exercising without any qualms. Gone are the days when employees aspired for a long-service award. We live in the age of portfolio careers.

If HR’s core objective is to enable employees’ experience, such that they work to their best potential; and if the core objective of HR-technology is to enable that goal – then clearly things have failed. Infact, I will go a step further to say that, even as HR has realized the need to change its approach, technology is coming in its way. Clearly, the investment, efforts and brouhaha around HR-Tech, in its current avataar, are simply much-ado-about-nothing.

“Okay we get it – but what is the solution?”  You might ask.

To start with, the solution is not, to shoot the messenger. Technology is only a tool. The success or failure of it, depends on how it is used. As I see it, we need to go back to the drawing board, and flip the two aspects of the approach, I mentioned in the beginning.

  1. One-size-fits-all ..to.. Each-employee-to-his-own

Improving technology, begins with changing the underlying assumptions. In our case, it is the underlying assumptions about what employees want.

Raghav may be willing to work for a lower pay, provided he can have flexi-time to take care of his kid. Harini might want a higher take-home component to be able to pay for her mortgage. Further, each of these employees may have different needs at different life stages. Further , Harini learns better by watching e-learning videos. Raghav learns better by talking to peers.

If we want HR-Tech that will enable Raghav, Harini and many others like them – we need to begin with acknowledging that they don’t want the same things.

  1. Do-a-bit-of-everything ..to.. Do-few-things-well

As a natural outcome of acknowledging that each employee wants a different experience, we will have to dig deeper into each HR process and deliver it to the employees individually, in a manner that suits them. This requires a shift from mile-wide-inch-deep solutions to feet-wide-mile-deep solutions, where specialists dig deep into each HR sub-function, brought together by platforms that enable interoperability.

I wish I could say that Dockabl is a pioneer in this kind of tech approach. But the truth is, this kind of approach has been staring right at our face every morning – in form of a Google screen. Google in itself does not solve any of our problems. But it brings together all the solutions out there. Or, take Facebook, which does not create any of the Farmville or Candy Crush Saga we love, but simply hosts them.

So, we are not pioneers. It’s just, that we are the first to recognize the potential of something that was out there for everyone to see (but got missed in plain sight) – and bring it to HR. But I am happy today, as an HR person more than anything else, that players such as Workday, SAP, Oracle are warming up to it – maybe slowly, sometime shyly, perhaps reluctantly – but surely; happy that they are moving to “open platforms” that will allow specialists like Dockabl to provide feet-wide-mile-deep solutions.

Finally, and at the cost of repeating myself, I will say something – that we keep reminding ourselves at Dockabl every day. A reminder, of the fundamental assumption which is at the heart of our product design. In the words of Shakespeare in his play called (well!)  “Much Ado About Nothing”..

A line we remember about every employee we design Dockabl for…

“Let me be that I am and seek not to alter me.”

Guide: Transform Your Performance Management Processes

Chapter 1: Start thinking about performance management in a different way

 

For many years, companies have made a plethora of attempts to optimize their performance management process. Some changed their rating models, while others have attempted innovating with pay structures.

 

HR leaders are expected to own the performance process. A process where tracking completion rates is still the number one priority.

Despite all the resources deployed, the organizations are still struggling to set up a system that drives consistent results. It’s high time we moved away from “spraying and praying” and start rethinking performance management at a foundational level – by enabling performance in the flow of work.

If you’re reading this guide, I’m sure you’ve embraced that change is needed. Change isn’t necessarily getting rid of annual performance reviews or incorporating trendy fixes. Change needs to happen with company-wide mindset and culture.

Performance management exists for two philosophical reasons: competitive differentiation and coaching & developing. Competitive differentiation involves comparing employees to their peers when rewarding and promoting them. Coaching and developing, on the other hand, provides details about the past performance of an organization or an individual that would enable future growth. 

How has Performance Management evolved?

The Purpose of Performance Management is changing with the change in Economy. It is essential to ask leaders what they are doing for performance management and the possible outcomes they are trying to achieve through performance management practices.  

Bersin’s study, conducted in 2006, found out that 80 percent of the companies have a performance process designed to put individuals on a nine-box grid. A nine-box grid refers to performance versus potential when deciding the person to receive more money and promotion, as well as giving managers a coaching tool. 

Some clients believe that performance management process forces managers to communicate toughly with other employees within an organization. For example, in an organization where all people are friendly, managers can improve on accountability by forcing the distribution of ratings. This also helps them to determine people who are performing low or high in the organization.

This idea is real for some companies, especially those that are complacent. Typically, it takes place when leaders realize that most employees are not well-trained and cannot deliver according to what the company wants. Microsoft, for example, has been using a forced ranking approach to fuel its highly competitive culture. This culture enabled it to be the most leading company in Windows in the world. Even though most people did not like this approach, it helped the company to overpower its competitors.

Things have majorly changed in today’s times. The top-performing companies will admit that the goal of performance management is “growth and development”. This involves enabling your team to perform better and grow with their role. 

 

Chapter 2: How can you meet the expectations of millennials?

 

It is both appalling and intriguing. On one hand, we are talking about the fourth industrial revolution where man and machine will work side by side. Yet, we have managed to stay in the Flintstone age when it comes to talent management systems, used by organizations. Worse, we are resisting doing something about it.

The problem exists at multiple levels.

Firstly, it is the question of, who do these archaic talent management tools serve – the ‘talent’ or the ‘management’? Most employees will recall (painfully) the experience of filling year-end appraisals on this difficult-to-use, boring tools. The experience is like typing an SMS on those single-line display push-phones of the early 2000s. I am not even talking about the difficulty, a field staff faces while accessing these systems remotely. Even, HR folks themselves have a night-marish experience, often resorting to manual excel-based follow-ups, to complete the process.

Secondly, the problem is at the level of the very talent philosophy these tools support. We are still appraising employees once a year – despite all the talk about continuous dialogues. The entire process of performance rating is a black box for most parts. Even recognition waits for the occasional townhall and most people are not sure of the criteria applied to select those who are awarded. There is no transparency or consistency in the process.

Few key questions here are:

  • Is this the kind of talent philosophy organizations believe in?
  • If not, why is there a gap between the philosophy we propagate, and the one we practice?
  • Whether a tool does or doesn’t enable the talent philosophy; should this not be a key decision-making criterion for CHROs to sign-off on tools?

Thirdly, the generation of millennials is not one that conforms. They are not those who will do something, just because they are told – unless they see sense in it. They need to know how they are performing, here and now. They are not okay with waiting for a full year to hear a year-end prophecy about their future in the organization. They are not afraid to ask questions and express their disagreement.

We are watching this story unfold in every organization. Take two of our clients. One of them is among India’s largest e-commerce platform. They are an organization who is as millennial as it gets. The other client is a Big 4 audit firm at the cutting edge of talent practices. Yet, both found themselves struggling with tools that are status quo in the market, which neither support their talent philosophy nor are well accepted by employees.

Times have changed. The technology has changed. Users have changed.

If organizations fail to change their actions, they will be much like the Emperor, parading in the past, to be called out in the open, by their very own employees.

Chapter 3: The Essentials of Continuous Performance

 

Performance management exists for two philosophical reasons: competitive differentiation and coaching & developing. Competitive differentiation involves comparing employees to their peers when rewarding and promoting them accordingly. Coaching and developing, on the other hand, provides details about the past performance of an organization or an individual that would enable future growth. 

Feedback is now a buzzword

Many people across the world think that feedback plays a significant part in performance management. Yes, it did before, but nowadays, companies are using check-ins, checkpoints, and conversations to collect essential information about the performance of people working there. 

According to Ashley Goodall from CISCO, it is helpful to use a tool for feedback because most people are always busy. As such, they do not get enough time to communicate with their managers. In such a situation, getting feedback online can be helpful. 

This isn’t as easy as it sounds though. Another study by Josh Bersin shows that only 22% of companies use feedback systematically. Some cultures promote open feedback in all directions; others do not. And this is often an issue-driven by company maturity.

Lastly, the term feedback is still a problem when looking at it from an HR point of view due to its negative implication. A new system of feedback can either improve or slow company performance. However, to improve on their market performance, companies should train their employees on feedback by giving the guidelines and tools to use. These companies should look at feedback as a cultural thing but not a tool for getting responses from each and every person.

Setting Goal: OKR Models and Intrinsic Motivators

For a company to succeed, it needs to have a budget, financial goals, and market targets. However, most companies do not consider all these things; they focus only on making a higher profit. Leaders, on the other hand, think about their projects and customers. The process of setting a goal is essential for the success of any business and is achieved by the good relationship between the employees and their employers, as well as their teams.

Although most managers are not familiar with the OKR model, it is the most successful model because of its simplicity. Some of the simple practices this model focuses on are;

  • Goals should have an outcome (objective leads to a result) and we should evaluate people based on a result, not just achieving a goal.
  • Goals should range from “simple and operational” to “stretch and developmental.” Everyone should have some goals for personal improvement and some aspirational goals each year.
  • Goals should be transparent so others know what you’re working on.
  • Goals should be simple and understandable, so we can actually achieve them and measure them.
  • Goals should be updated and reviewed regularly. At many companies, they are reviewed weekly in standup meetings, quarterly business reviews, and other management practices.
  • Goals should be aligned and supportive of the company goals (needs no explanation).

Although there is a need to have individuals who can set goals and share them, it is vital to have a developmental and collaborative process that will enable people to spend most of their time doing jobs. Most companies using performance management in their workflow perform better than those that do not implement it.

On the other hand, intrinsic motivation is also essential for your business. 

Many studies have shown that while goals are important, paying people for goals can hold people back. Intrinsic motivators (doing work you love, serving others, innovating, creating) are far more powerful than simply getting a bonus for closing a deal, so make sure your goal setting process is expansive and not too linked to pay. 

The need for Recognition

Employee recognition is a very powerful engagement tool. Even in a format as simple as a quick shout out in a slack group. 

Researchers have proven that when you thank someone, it releases oxytocin, a hormone that makes people more relaxed, collaborative and happy.

A Harvard Business Review study showed that recognition was the most impactful driver of employee engagement.

Companies are building a culture of recognition through social reward systems. New-age methods like weekly or monthly appreciation, and a general culture of recognizing all your workplace peers.

Key to enabling success here is to create a social environment where recognition can flow from peer to peer, freeing managers from being the “gatekeepers” of praise.

 

Develop both Managers and People

The final thing we’ve seen in the last few decades is that – there’s no point in giving someone feedback without showing them how to improve. 

One of the important trends, in fact, is the need to evaluate managers based on their ability to engage their teams. 

Yes, managers have to get work done; but that alone is not enough. We have to show them “how” to get work done well, and that means they need development too.

 

Chapter 4: Performance process audit and implementation

 

Auditing the current system

Interestingly, most people find themselves launching new systems without understanding how systems operate in helping them achieve their business’ objectives. Auditing the current system of your business is important as it enables you to concentrate on specific areas that impact your business positively. 

The two main factors you should consider when auditing your system include; 

  • Structural Analysis: Just like in building construction, it’s necessary to have a solid understanding of the foundation you’re building on. This can be enormously helpful in designing the blueprint for a system that is built to last. Look for answers to questions like:
  • Where is the current program already working well?
  • Where is the current program falling short?
  • Which areas can be improved immediately, and which will require more time and effort?
  • Identify and involve key stakeholders: A performance management program impacts everyone in the organization, from last week’s new hire to the CEO. That’s why it’s crucial to gain buy-in from all levels. Learn the history of your current program, identify its key stakeholders, and get their input. They will be instrumental in the success of this initiative.

How to meet and exceed your Employee expectations

In order to meet the needs of your employees, it is important that any initiative or change on your performance management enhances peace, unity, and cooperation in your organization. 

The system should be objective, autonomous, should foster feedback in real-time, promote the development of skills, be transparent and enhances the growth of your company and employees.

Implementation

  1. Technology: Do not use a product because other companies are using it. But make sure the technology you choose gives you a competitive advantage. There are many tools you can select from to help you achieve your objective.
  2. Integration: Before launching your new system, it is good to consider how it will integrate with the other administrating systems because it will help you understand if the new system will promote efficiency in the business.
  3. Intuitiveness: Since modern employees like to interact with systems which provide a delightful user experience, an intuitive tool will definitely play a part in winning the votes of your employees.
  4. Communication: Communication plays a vital role in the success of any business. As a business person, you should ensure that the new system improves business communication.