The Human Capital Institute released a recent White Paper titled Agile Performance Management (APM): HR’s Next Big Move. We paid attention. This common sense and easy-to-digest White Paper is obnoxiously obvious. Yet, the paper’s brilliance relies on the label in a market craving innovation for years. Performance reviews and traditional performance management has been on the way out (see here, here, and here). No one has been able to put a proper label on it, until now: Agile Performance Management.
Before defining Agile Performance Management, let’s first evaluate what problems are being solved.
4 Problems Agile Performance Management (APM) Solves:
1 ) Real, front line and middle managers are dissatisfied.
The middle and front line managers are the heart and soul of the company. If they are bogged down, so is the entire organization. HR, People Ops, and all the way up to the CEO should do anything and everything to empower the middle and front line managers.
CEB research has found that more than 9 in 10 managers are dissatisfied with how their companies conduct annual performance reviews, and almost 9 in 10 HR leaders say the process doesn’t yield accurate information. Middle and front line managers are leading every employee in your business. As an HR professional and leader in the organization, it is your job to empower these leaders to accel.
2) Traditional performance management is an inefficient use of time.
Why would any HR department add any convoluted work to their managers than necessary? The front line and middle managers are HR’s secret weapon for success. If they succeed, the company succeeds, and eventually HR. There are numerous priorities of managers ranging from hiring, developing, managing, reporting, and much more.
HR practice leader at the CEB, who noted that in a recent CEB survey, managers said they spend an average of 210 hours a year in performance management activities. Managers said their employees, in turn, each spend 40 hours a year.
3) The cat is out of the bag. Performance reviews do not reflect true output or actual utility.
It’s one thing to make managers do cumbersome work that adds value to the business and drives ROI — that is understandable and called “work.” It’s another to do when there is overwhelmingly support from experts and executives (77%) who claim performance reviews don’t accurately reflect employee contributions. In addition, research shows individual performance ratings have absolutely zero correlation with actual business results.
Incredible to think HR professionals are willingly pushing this antiquated practice on their company and resources.
4) Traditional performance management must be adopted company-wide compromising manger individuality.
End of year performance reviews mandated by the company are overwhelimingly cumbersome. Traditional performance management is a 1 size-fits alls methodology. Very little creativity or customization prohibited.
TPM is an antiquated business practice but there are still many reasons Traditional performance management is adopted.
If these are the problems, what solutions exist.
How Agile Performance Management Provides Solutions:
1) Agile Performance Management (APM) doesn’t alter the workflow of the manager, it augments it.
Managers are doing so much work leading and managing our employees. Every week/month, it’s probable they’re having valuable, heart-felt 1:1 meetings with each direct report. These meetings are hopefully documented and filled with coaching conversations and deliverables for improvement. This is their job. A collection of these meetings is foundation for a proper review, whether it be quarterly or annual.
2) Light-weight apps with beautiful mobile UX/UI are the standard.
Following up on the theme of augmenting the manager’s workflow, we’re living in a generation of beautiful web design and mobile sophistication. Buggy apps and clunky UI’s are no longer the standard or to be accepted. Managers today want a simple, mobile workflow that aligns with their current behaviors and training. Time-saving simplicity allows the manager to learn more and filter that knowledge to their direct reports via 1:1 meetings and proactive coaching conversations.
3) Every team member knows where they stand and how to get better by leveraging existing systems.
Feedback and coaching is continual process facilitated by Agile Performance Management. However, that is the equivalent of running a race and not knowing your time or place you stand. The answer to the question “Am I doing a good job?” should never be in question by a direct report. The value of APM is integrating with existing platforms, for example a CRM or Customer Success Platform to highlight key goals and objectives set strategically by the leadership in the company. A great People Ops or HR Director will tie in the pieces for their managers so the leaders of the organization can focus on building their team and executing the plan. The traditional HR platform is not the application of record for the company. APM fits in with existing applications that run the organization’s operations and adjust accordingly to the strategic plan.
4) APM provides flexibility to every manager around their leadership style.
Every manager’s leadership style is different. APM’s flexible methodology empowers the manager with freedom around how they want to manage their team while still checking all the boxes required from tradional performance reviews.
Agile Performance Management is more than a catchy buzzword or office-jargon, APM is a methodology to solve real problems plaguing every company…and we’ve just scratched the surface.