Improve Workforce Performance to Tackle Challenges of Change with a High-Performance Culture

Thanks to the dizzying pace of technological and business shifts, organizations today must constantly respond to change. However, many struggle to do so: Nine of ten CEOs say their company faces disruption, but 70 percent say they do not have the skills within their workforce to adequately adapt, according to the 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey report from Deloitte.

At the same time, a lack of engagement threatens to make the situation worse. Study after study proves that engagement directly impacts productivity, work quality, overall morale, retention and other success drivers. But just one-third of employees are considered engaged in their jobs, according to this year’s State of the American Workplace survey report from Gallup. What’s worse, only 21 percent “strongly agree” that their employer manages their performance in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work, according to the Gallup research.

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The last finding underscores a critical need that too many organizations overlook – the proactive building of a “high-performance culture,” one in which employees realize that their senior leadership and immediate supervisors are positioning them for success from their very first moment of contact (such as an interview) to their last day on the job. To build this culture, top executives, HR teams and business managers must address the following areas:

Recruiting. Obviously, you want to get the best people on board, and make sure they land in roles that will take advantage of their skills and interests. This is also the stage in which you first convey what your high-performance culture is all about. By staying in close contact with candidates throughout the process – i.e., refusing to allow them to “linger in limbo” in between interviews without any status updates – you demonstrate how much you care about them.

From an internal perspective, you need the proper tools to quickly identify the best possible candidates and move them through your internal processes as smoothly as possible. Identifying and correcting bottlenecks will put your HR teams and hiring managers in the best possible situation to achieve wins. And by identifying your organization’s past recruitment successes through data and analytics, you’ll be better positioned to take the subsequent necessary actions to repeat positive outcomes.

Onboarding. No one wants to arrive on their first day and hear, “Here’s your cubicle. Here’s your coffee mug. Good luck.” But this is happening all the time, as only six of ten employees know what is expected of them at work, and just 41 percent “strongly agree” that their job description aligns well with what they are asked to do, according to the Gallup research. To avoid this, organizations should invest in orientation sessions, hands-on task demonstrations and other onboarding efforts to get new hires well-acquainted with what’s expected of them.

With proven, successful processes in place, everyone wins. Certainly, new hires are more productive and contributing to organizational goals faster, helping not only the individual, but also the new employee’s team or department. In addition, everyone involved in helping the new hire onboard is also more productive and contributing more to the organization’s goals.

Coaching/performance managing. This is another trouble area, as only 30 percent of professionals strongly agree that their manager involves them with setting goals at work, and just 23 percent strongly agree that their boss provides meaningful feedback to them, according to the Gallup research. These sentiments are common at places where management concludes that the annual performance review suffices solely on its own. Constant communication and collaboration proves critical here, with ongoing, two-way feedback sessions between staffers and supervisors so all expectations are clear and everyone recognizes whether progression toward goal accomplishment is on track.

Learning, growing and advancing. Virtually everyone seeks to advance in their careers, while expanding their knowledge base and skill sets. But, again, organizations are falling short here, as just three in ten professionals strongly agree that someone at work encourages their development and only four of ten strongly agree that they’ve had opportunities to learn and grow over the last year, according to the Gallup research. By offering training which addresses both “hard skills” (highly technical and/or role-specific sessions) and “soft skills” (training which covers communications, customer interactions, etc.), organizations reaffirm their commitment to their employees’ futures. By helping employees grow, workforce performance throughout the organizations improves.

These performance culture initiatives are all about “people.” But technology can play an essential part in helping you implement them. Readily available analytics solutions, for example, will establish previously unachievable visibility into recruiting, onboarding, coaching and learning/growth efforts. They will allow you to “see” where all top position candidates are in the hiring pipeline, for instance, and identify whether there are unnecessary bottlenecks within the application, interview or “job offer” stages. They will enable you to determine whether new employees are sufficiently onboarded so they’re ready to contribute from day one. In addition, they distinguish which development programs – training, mentoring, performance assessing, etc. – are making quantifiable impact and which aren’t.

What’s even more exciting, continuing innovation in artificial intelligence (AI) will lead to talent/human capital-focused analytics systems that are more intuitive and automated, empowering HR teams and managers with faster and more effective decision-making. By 2018, 62 percent of enterprises will deploy AI, according to research from Narrative Science, with more than one-quarter currently using AI to automate manual, repetitive tasks.

Clearly, we can’t stop change. This is a new reality of our world today, and it’s likely to grow more so every year. And while you can’t exactly predict what will happen to shake things up, you can develop an immensely capable and adaptable workforce that’s prepared to tackle pretty much anything that comes along. Because employees recognize they’re part of a high-performance culture, they know that their organization supports them in every way so they want to – and can – do their best. With this, they’re eager to accept the many challenges of change, instead of being intimidated by them.

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