July 2, 2017

Managing the talent of tomorrow

BY: Tom Lee
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In today’s technology-enabled world, it’s not only the workplace that’s changing, so to is the workforce. All too many companies are struggling to update their performance management process to keep abreast of these emerging cultures and expectations.

Those that adapt at speed will benefit from a fresh influx of talent and capabilities. Those that fail to keep up, will experience a steep and steady decline in engagement, and the loss of their competitive advantage.

Employee retention and motivation in the workforce will never cease to be a managerial priority, but as the workplace influence of the millennial generation grows, employers will need to make major adjustments in their engagement models, strategic adjustments they should already be considering.

By 2030, millennials will represent approximately 75% on the workforce. So, it makes increasing sense that progressive companies adapt their performance management process to better suit a millennial mind-set. By harnessing their understanding of new workplace cultures and technology, businesses can surface how they should adapt their performance management process if they want to thrive and succeed in the future.

Towards a more consumerist HR function

Advances in digital technology are already changing the ways HR departments design and deliver employee solutions. According to Mindgym, even rudimentary advances, such as real-time feedback ‘improve performance by up to 39%’. However, the real challenge companies often face is not finding a great software vendor to do business with, but finding effective, digital tools their employees are actually willing to use!

Increasingly, millennials demand work experiences comparable to those they have at home. As Simon Sinek said in ‘Millennials in the Workplace’, they “…have grown up in a world of instant gratification, you want to buy something, you go on Amazon, it arrives the next day.”

The consumerisation of HR typically refers to creating a social, mobile and consumer-style experience inside the organisation. A modern necessity, as individuals are now personally empowered because of easier, more direct access to information and data. Sadly, our general interaction with performance management in the workplace is still far from ideal. In order to increase efficiency, companies need software that facilitates teamwork and agile goal setting, that helps employees to provide mutual feedback, and that enables continuous self-improvement. In order to work effectively, these tools should be consumer-like, easy to use, and mobile by design; improving the way employees are served and supported.

HR tech:

So, the greatest challenge companies face comes not from finding a software vendor to do business with, but finding tools that employees will actually use!

A new wave of innovation in performance management has emerged. A trend best summarised as the supervision of an employee’s work through near-term objectives, ongoing feedback from supervisors, and regular one-to-one discussions (check-ins).  Performance management tools should be designed with this understanding.

How is work actually being performed, how will it continue to be delivered tomorrow: in the room, around a virtual table, across continents? Tools need to focus on mobile, social, collaborative, employee-centric strategies, and most importantly on improving the quality of face-to-face interactions. Technology is just the enabler not the answer, more progressive solutions out there already subscribe to this belief wholeheartedly.

A flexible working environment & culture:

According to Steven Williams, practice leader at CEB, millennials are more likely than previous generations to turn down a position with a company whose culture doesn’t mesh with their values and expectations.

Furthermore, they are not afraid to job-hop. They are the first generation to pressure organisations into disrupting themselves to accommodate new needs and goals. Job flexibility is so important to a millennial that they will change career, sacrifice a promotion and even relocate to to secure it. According to Gallup's’2017 State of the American Workplace’ report, 51% of employees would change jobs for one that offered them flexible hours.

As leaders compete to attract and retain modern talent, the culture they create should also provide elements of flexibility, autonomy and the ability to achieve a more harmonious work-life balance.

In regard to performance management, innovative technology such as mobile apps can facilitate this. Helping employees and managers based remotely to remain connected, able to share feedback in real-time, on the go, and by making performance management more straightforward for all parties.

Regular and effective communications:

The advantages for both employee and employer are clear. The more regular the check-in, the more current the conversation, timely the input and positive the outcome. This in turn encourages further dialogue and collaboration, boosting levels of confidence, trust and honesty into the bargain.

Nearly 85% of millennials in a TriNet survey said they’d feel more confident if they could have more frequent conversations with their managers. By keeping the lines of communication open, employees can develop stronger, more reliable relationships with their managers. For managers this additional depth to the relationship then allows them to  tackle performance issues more comfortably and directly, with more positive outcomes.

The latest generation of performance management tools, like TalTrack, can further help to achieve this, by providing an interactive channel for employees and managers to quickly and clearly communicate.

Furthermore, with the value of feedback increasingly recognised by organisations of every size, regular check-ins will become an essential part of the manager’s role. However, the days of one way feedback are already a thing of the past. For the millennial mind, it’s no less important to give feedback as to receive. If companies are serious about updating their performance management process, HR will need to play a critical role in helping the company to understand and navigate the new rules of the emerging business landscape.

About the author Tom Lee

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Tom Lee is a millennial, actively involved in developing the TalTrack performance management app, which incorporates the type of swipe-based functionality younger workforces are quite at home with.

He’d love to hear your thoughts on the future of talent management, and to know if your company has adapted its approach to performance management?