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. 

Continuous Performance Essentials For Startups

A new shift has been underway that most startups are recognizing. Competing in today’s digital business environment demands a new approach to performance management.

Performance management has long been overdue for a revolution, and digital is the way forward. Its future is now rooted in data, in being flexible, continuous, and development focused.

Technology-enabled, continuous performance systems are driving today’s successful HR transformations.

As annual reviews fall out of favor, their replacements are more agile performance review strategies. This allows for frequent communication about performance between supervisors and employees.

And let’s be real, annual reviews have needed an overhaul for a while now. It is difficult to collate and keep track of different feedback. These reviews are not usually reflective of a holistic evaluation of the year. It ends up being bits and pieces of different elements.

How can employees thrive when there is no real-time management and feedback? How do you give them a running start towards professional development, while still addressing key issues at hand?

 

Develop a roadmap for development

 

The first step in developing a continuous performance management system is to start with a baseline. Having a strategy based on objectives and key results (OKR) is beneficial because it gives both employee and employer a level playing field.

Expectations are set and communicated and there is little confusion or misunderstanding. OKR allows employers to put in place coordination in a startup. It also ensures accurate communication and establishes indicators to measure success.

Establishing a culture of goal setting aligns the entire team to work towards the key driver – “growth”.

A 360-degree performance review that integrates OKR into it gives employees a new way to understand their place in organizations. This is especially salient in a start-up context. Roles may be more fluid and there is rapid growth, so employees need to be able to adapt quickly to new settings. The 360-degree model gives them more understanding of how their work is being viewed.

 

What is the role of real-time feedback?

 

Running a startup can be tough – trust me, I know. Tensions run high, management can sometimes be difficult. Especially when you’re promoting more junior members to senior positions.

The transition can be tough, both for employees and employers as these new roles come in. This is why real-time feedback is so important in implementing an OKR strategy. Its main goal is to help a team focus their efforts and move in the same direction to succeed.

Combined with instant feedback, this strategy helps improve efficiency in job roles. This also builds a more focused and engaged workforce. Increase employee engagement and retention by creating a culture of appreciation. I’ve seen firsthand how transformational this can be for startups, and we built Dockabl with this in mind. For example –

  • Dockabl allows easy setup and delegation of goals for seamless week-on-week execution while keeping an eye on your long and short term strategy. Because when people are open to feedback, communication flows improve.
  • Dockabl’s review module keeps you connected to the process in real-time. Whether it is the status or communication with other stakeholders. It also allows mid-review changes in the simplest way.

Today’s technology wires us for instant feedback. Millennials always want to match their cadence by setting aggressive, short-term goals. This is why the feedback module works great for collecting and soliciting feedback anytime, anywhere. You don’t have to wait to launch and receive feedback. This works great during project catch-ups and presentations.

The role of peer to peer recognition is also important to recognize here. We know that employees feel much better when they get recognized by their peers. But how do you do that in a meaningful and tangible way?

Dockabl allows calling out value badges with a simple #hashtag along with the points, images and more while recognizing peers. You can also customize the experience to match your organization’s style.

 

Measurable progress

 

One of the larger issues with the current performance management is that there are no real ways to measure goals and objectives. Sitting down every once in a while isn’t that helpful, whether it’s a large team or small. Goal progress is important because it gives employees a signpost for how they can progress and develop. It helps you and your team keep the momentum and intensity high. Dockabl allows you to update progress on objectives & key result areas via the on-going check-in feature.

Why is this important? Because performance management can no longer stick to its one-size-fits-all roots. Customizing a review process for employees ensures that it is in line with company culture, and it is you. Plus Dockabl’s review wizard helps recreate a variety of your best review practices online. With our Reviews module, translate any philosophy, which means you can meld best practices and your own unique culture to build a process that is reflective of these two worlds.

Dockabl allows feedback to be provided in a free-flowing or via pre-defined questionnaires. Translate complex frameworks into comprehensive forms accessible to all. You can create a performance management system that is positive, collaborative, and accessible from anywhere.

 

True transparency

 

Another major flaw of performance management is the secrecy that goes around it. Reviews are shrouded in secrecy. No one knows how the other is doing, and it can often lead to a stressful work environment. By bringing in transparency, you can show that the system is fair, and so that everyone feels like an equal.

Every OKR at any level in the startup must be public. It is necessary to help you know what matters and what everyone else is working on.

Dockabl helps manage people & resources in real-time by keeping the lines of communication always open. This way you build an environment where you foster discussions.

You can create a performance management system that works for your people – not against them.

 

We’ve created a simple system that allows co-workers to receive and provide timely help by sharing development insights. By linking it to a project, skillset or behaviour, feedback can have a real tangible impact on professional development and start meaningful conversations between employee and employer. Learn more here.

Effective Tips On Leveraging Cross Functional Collaboration To Grow Your Startup

Some startups believe that business is operating in silos. Their marketing departments are constantly entering new dimensions, while sales try to expand the existing accounts. The customer service departments are scattered to different ventures and have a hard time offering customized experiences to clients.

All these groups may serve different functions, but the ultimate goal needs to be consistent and focused on the growth of the startup. You can achieve this by implementing cross-functional synergies.

In this five-minute read, we offer all the tips you need to put in place a strategy and speed up your newly established business.

 

What does cross-functional collaboration entail?

 

By cross-functional teams, we refer to groups of staff members within an organization with different expertise working towards common goals and objectives. Workers from all levels in the business can collaborate to achieve results that speed up business growth. Such a team could put in place crucial improvements within the business. Thus, it is an effective tool for implementing a culture of continuous growth and improvement.

Studies state that businesses with strong governance support either through a higher-level cross-collaboration or a high-level executive champion achieved a 76 percent success rate. This shows how much you need to keep your staff working together. But we have more reasons why you should have the strategy in place already.

 

Benefits of cross-functional collaboration

 

The entire process of nurturing a cross-functional team may seem daunting, but trust us, it is a worthy decision.

One of the crucial benefits is that it encourages a collaborative culture as the business grows. Different areas of expertise and backgrounds create a team with a collective knowledge base, and they also work towards shared goals. So if you have not harnessed this form of energy in your new business, then you are missing out.

The culture also encourages experimentation and continuing education, which are also crucial drivers of business growth. When the IT and sales department tackle a project together, no doubt a lot of learning will take place. And what if the sales agent wanted to learn how things worked in the back-end? What if that lady in IT has some cool sales ideas that she picked up in her evening classes?

Worker satisfaction and autonomy are based on allowing your staff to grow and learn, and we recommend cross-functional teams for this.

This business growth strategy also sparks innovation. With departments working together, you will soon have your best marketers also thinking like IT specialists, while the coding expert will be creating incredible marketing flyers. You will also strengthen staff alignment to the vision and mission of the company. Understandably, you want to make the overall vision happen. Luckily, this will get closer to your face if you have different departments and skillsets working for a similar goal.

 

Tips on building successful cross-functional teams

 

Collaboration across departments is crucial to business performance and innovation. So it is in your best interest to have in place a united approach to business growth. We recommend the following strategies:

 

  1. Encourage random interactions

A spontaneous chat in the break room could bring about an innovation breakthrough. Businesses with effective strategies in place design the operation schedule and workday to allow for these random interactions.

 

  1. Promote diversity

Grabbing an individual from every department to create a team may be easy. But to maximize the team’s effectiveness, your group must cut across different areas beyond their working sections. Factors to consider when developing your team include experience, ability, seniority, skills, tenure, gender, and location.

 

  1. Work with influencers

Most organizations have employees who are born leaders regardless of their position in the company. Such people are adored and respected and tend to work well with their colleagues. It is easier for such an individual to influence other team members to take part in the activities. These are the perfect influencers to help enhance your efforts by getting others engaged.

 

  1. Involve experts in the subject matter

You can also grow your business through cross-departmental collaboration by leveraging on people within the organization knowledgeable on particular products, processes, or disciplines. These important team members could share their knowledge and skills with the rest of the staff. This helps educate employees with less experience, while the experts simultaneously end up with a new point of view.

 

  1. Assess the true impact

You must enable your teams to measure the impact they are having as this creates momentum while ensuring the sustainability of the respective teams. Of course, your staff want to see how much difference their efforts have created. So showing them the actual results could urge them to maintain the continuous cross-developmental engagement.

 

  1. Align Incentives

Without recognizing and rewarding performing employees in all departments, all the strategies we have highlighted above can be undermined. Financial incentives based on the goals of a particular department have poor results and would lead to paycheck conflicts. So to achieve an effective collaboration system, your goals and incentives must acknowledge and reward performing individuals across all departments.

 

User-friendly tools such as Dockabl can help review performance, and manage feedback and recognition to all your teams. Get docked and make it simple to appreciate the efforts of the team members who deserve it.

The current startup environment needs innovation, and this can be easily achieved if a diverse group of employees with different interests, skills, and expertise works together. Furthermore, dialogue between staff with varying industry backgrounds has become a fundamental part of boosting creativity and sparking innovation.

This communication can be achieved faster in startups through cross-functional synergies. It may not be easy, but once in place, the strategy could facilitate innovation and collaborative culture. Both of these are crucial tools for the improvement of your bottom line and facilitate business growth.

 

Why Ongoing feedback Is The Way Forward For Your Startup

The term ‘performance management’ has seen many evolutions over the years in the corporate world, but what does it actually mean? And how applicable is it as a one-size-fits-all model, especially in a new world filled with start-ups and non-traditional work environments?

These are two complex questions, so let’s take them one at a time.

The role of performance management

 

Feedback is the lifeblood of performance. It sounds straightforward. You tell employees how they can improve based on what you (and others) have observed, and voila. Change is there.

Not exactly.

That’s the simple scenario but rarely is it the case. The meaning of performance management itself is based on several components:

  • Behaviour
  • Outcomes
  • Skill-sets

These can be complicated individually, and together, even more. You could be seeing certain behaviour that are keeping employees behind, like procrastination. Or there might be projects where a team member wasn’t performing well. They might be missing certain skill sets that are keeping them from progressing. A simple change could help evolve in their position and equip them with knowledge on how to improve and progress within the team.

However, taking all of these disparate pieces and trying to cobble them together is difficult. Which is why performance management has seen a lot of shifts. How do you address all of these things effectively, and with impact? Ideally, you would be able to talk to colleagues right then and there, as soon as you spot whatever it is that needs fixing…but that doesn’t happen. By the time feedback is delivered, that moment is long gone so it takes more time to see a change.

In an earlier post, We wrote about the diminishing role of management and there’s a particular phrase that bears repeating:

We have all heard the cliche, “don’t measure a fish by its ability to climb a tree”. Yet, we implement this cliche with religious zeal through performance management systems, every year, around the world.

Rather than making feedback, and thereby broader performance management more individualized, it becomes standardized. This version of performance management doesn’t end up working for employees. But recognizing their individual strengths and weaknesses does. It’s about showing employees, in real time, about what’s going well and what isn’t. For feedback to be effective, it needs to be timely and tailored.

Examining startups in this context

 

Taking on the second question, performance management takes on more importance in the context of startups, for a variety of reasons.

Startups function differently from conventional corporations as they are made up of smaller teams of talented (and often young) professionals. Within these teams, management experience itself can be varied in these settings, which makes employee feedback and morale that much more critical.

Sometimes younger team members might be put in a management setting they are unfamiliar with (and therefore struggle with delivering employee feedback) or might be managing employees with more experience. Or there might be more experienced senior managers who struggle with the start-up setting and delivering feedback in a more meaningful way since they are more used to different performance management methods.

In either scenario, I think the role of ongoing feedback takes on more importance because it is experience-agnostic. Rather than adhering to older, stolid ways of feedback, there needs to be a shift in thinking.

There is more focus on multiple milestones rather than big accomplishments. By rewarding their employees for making incremental progress, they can nudge them towards the overall goal and encourage them to ‘level up’ at every step of the way. This form of structuring and delivering feedback is beneficial, both for employees and management teams. 

By utilizing this interactive (and rather fair) form of appraisal (constant feedback), managers can benefit from a less time consuming and more cost-effective way to manage employees. It becomes a collaborative process between employee and employer, and it sets up expectations well. Either employer/manager or both employee and employer can begin setting up objectives and goals for the employee, which can, in turn, help him/her perform better. This is due to the fact that it lets employees know the goals they need to reach as well as the quality and quantity needed to achieve them.

It is also worth noting that, if both employee and employer decide on objectives together, the probability of meeting those goals can be much higher.

So what difference does ongoing feedback make?

 

Simple, because feedback involves two parties: employee and employer. Rather than siloing feedback, this allows smaller teams to grow together. Remember that earlier phrase about not teaching fish to climb trees? It applies here. This form of appraisal opens up the process into a dialogue and a real conversation. Instead of expecting employees to adhere to the same standards, treating them as individuals opens up a new realm of professional development that has true impact. 

While it might seem daunting to start a system of ongoing feedback, I can tell you firsthand, the individual employee approach works. I’ve seen it time and time again in different circumstances, and for start-ups, in particular, this form of performance management is far more effective and meaningful – both for employees and employers.

 

Is your startup struggling with delivering feedback that provides real value for employees? Our Feedback module can help. We’ve created a simple system that allows co-workers to receive and provide timely help by sharing development insights. By linking it directly to a project, skillset or behaviour, feedback can have a real tangible impact on professional development. Learn more here.