Category Archives: Performance Management

Moving from performance management to enablement (Part 2)

In the two-part series of “Moving from performance measurement to enablement”, part 1 highlighted the problems we have with current performance management process. In part-2, will be discussing on how organizations can move from performance management to performance enablement.

As stated in part 1, the annual ritual of performance management is dead, future belongs to performance enablement.  Companies who will not leverage this change will potentially lose an opportunity to increase their revenue by up to 9% and reduce cost by up to 7%(Source:: Mckinsey).

The outcome of enabling performance are clear. Done right, it can lead to engaged at work & will be more effective as their careers progress. Let’s look at how you can enable the performance.

1.Re-focus on the Core: Organization Culture

Organization culture is not about dogs at work or yoga (Ben Horowitz). Organization culture is about “how works get done and people alignment with organization customers”. To understand your culture, start with analyzing or run diagnosis about what kind of culture or subcultures have been created in your teams in all these years.  And then put down on paper what kind of culture is required to meet and exceed your customer expectations.The output of this activity will be the expected behaviors from the people in the organization. Identified behaviors should be constantly communicated to employees, and should NOT be limited to poster exercises. This may sound like a theory, but believe me, it’s a science. The only difference is, the secret of this science and how to implement it was till date was available with a handful of companies.

2.Enabling Business Heads and Managers to be Better Coaches

There are two aspects which can enable managers and BU head’s to be better coaches:

  • The way communication is happens
  • The way conversations are handled on giving feedback

The way communication is happens

Your business heads and managers are continuously focused on getting transactions done. They occasionally communicate with their team members about what they are feeling and what challenges they are facing. The medium of communication ‘Town Halls’ and ‘Corporate Emails’ are not effective. Managers and business heads need to be more colloquial with their communication so that people in their team feel more connected to them. The art of chasing numbers are easy, but the art of communication is difficult. You need to enable them to think creatively to communicate well.

The way conversations are handled on giving feedback

How frequently your manager gives feedback to their team members. Either it’s annual, during the performance management process or when projects/assignment & targets turn red. You have to put in a discipline throughout the company to enable these conversations to happen more frequently (at least quarterly).  And employees and managers should be kept in the center for this to avoid adoption failure.

3.Implement a Dynamic Goal Setting Framework

The business world is dynamic where targets and priorities keep changing continuously. But the goals to be achieved remain static throughout the year. And they largely don’t get connected to the day to day work of the employee. An ideal goal setting framework gets connected with the daily, weekly, monthly & quarterly assignments. It should be simple enough to change and track. And it should have the ability to define the performance metrics for every role in the company. OKR is one such goal setting framework which acts more like a management tool and has the ability to link entire organization with CEO’s priorities.

4.Enable More Transparency

Transparency can be enhanced at two level: – team level and company level.

4.1Transparency at team level

There are 3 types of team members. One who think he is a Hercules, one who know he is Hercules and the one who needs to know whether he can become Hercules or not. Within the team, if you can show the data and enable calling a “SPADE a SPADE”, it will help in achieving excellence in execution.What is the different between a non-performer employee of corporate and start-up? In start-up, the shelf life of non-performers is maximum 2 to 3 month; in the corporate its 12 months or more. By enhancing transparency, you will be able to identify non-performers in lesser time and can start working on their development at the faster pace.

4.2Transparency at organization level

An employee always keeps guessing how my work is affecting overall organization progress. And few of them want exposure to more opportunities available, to enhance their career growth. A simple way to achieve this is by making all goals transparent at the company level. You need to show them the path for growth.Employees who want to grow will be able to figure out how to travel on that path.

To conclude, as an HR leader, being an early adopter of initiating the journey of performance enablement,   you will be able to contribute towards business growth in a tangle manner. Newly empowered employees of the digital age are constantly looking for the value proposition from their employers. Companies, new and old alike, and their HR leaders cannot afford to sit on the sidelines.


  1. Focus on how you can determine your sub-culture(s) and fix them.
  2. Enable your managers to be better coaches with continues feedback.
  3. Implement a more dynamic goal setting framework with goals making sense to employees.
  4. Enable transparency in teams with data to identify non-performers by implementing team level OKR’s.

Moving from performance management to enablement (Part 1)

If an organization is spending 2 million hours of effort on measuring performance, an annual activity that’s doesn’t make sense to anyone, we have strong reason to relook at the cost and effort spent on this activity. The countless number of hours spent on filling self-reviews, manager review forms, meeting, arranging and collating performance data is certainly not justified.

During my corporate career, my team and I always expected two outcomes from performance review (mid-year and annual):

  1. Feedback from my manager on how I have done
  2. What will be the increment in my salary

While both the reasons are strong enough to hold my team’s and my interest in performance reviews, it was always disengaging. HR, Business Unit Heads, and team managers have to follow up endlessly with people to get self-reviews completed. It’s a strong enough evidence that people are not looking forward to this annual ritual. Further, a study by Willis Tower Waston fond that ONLY 20% of employers believes that merit pay is effective in driving higher levels of individual performance in their organizations.  Here are the top 5 reasons of dis-engagement with performance review process:-

  1. Performance management process is not employee centric: The yearly performance review process and system are designed to get top 10, average 70 and bottom 20 percentile of people to facilitate C&B (Compensation & Benefit). To achieve this activity, organization’s and HR leaders forgot to put employees and managers in the center of doing performance review process(now day’s it’s also called as design thinking). As an employee, if I know that outcome of the annual performance management process is money, my projections about my performance will always be HIGH. And the manager will be more focused on justifying the rating and/or percentage of salary hike. In this all, giving actual feedback to the employee on how she has performed and how she can improve in future takes back stage.
  2. Measurement on KRA/KPI/questioners which doesn’t make sense: KRA’s are static in nature; today’s business world is way too dynamic. Team’s priorities and targets keep changing on day to day, month to month and quarter to quarter basis. And team members are not able to correlate their day to day work with assigned KRA’s and KPI’s. Even if they are able to correlate, how much progress they have done to achieve the KPI(s) cannot be measured quantitatively and qualitatively. Don’t believe me, ask your employees. At the end, the current process leaves the judgment of how well I have performed on manager’s wisdom.
  3. Lack of clear communication on expectations and what should be done to grow: When was the last time your organization has clearly communicated to your employee on competencies they need to get better on. And which competencies they need to acquire to grow to next level. Team members often come up with an assumption that they are ready for next role, without realizing whether they are even ready for that or not. And managers don’t have enough data to tell the team member why they are not getting promoted to the next level.
  4. Recency bias in evaluation: – How many times you have observed that when performance reviews and appraisals are approaching, team members suddenly become more proactive, disciplined, showcase best of their behaviors and start delivering things on time beyond expectations. I still remember one such incident: One of my team members who was sitting in different office location started sharing the status update on time, without follow-ups, was calling me on regular basis to tell me how lucky she is being in this assignment. As a manager, you will tend to take the decision based on recent events and perceptions.
  5. No transparency: – Organizations lacks transparency in the entire performance management process with too much dependency on manager’s decision. While manager’s role cannot be denied in the process, it’s the employee peer’s who know how this person has performed throughout the year and whether she is a good team player or not. And though increment has always depended on the how the company has performed and on macroeconomic conditions, managers give feedback to justifying the bell curve rating or to justify the rating communicated to her from the higher management.

The way you measure performance defines the core culture of your organization and it will define how your people will perform in the future.

In part 2 of this post, I will share how you can take the journey of moving your organization from performance measurement process to performance enablement process.


  1. Performance management is dead, future belongs to enabling the performance.
  2. Current Performance management process is not employee centric.
  3. Managers lags data of employee performance through the year, leading to recency bais in evaluation
  4. If done right, enabling performance will accelerate business growth

Part-2 of this article can be found here.

Enable a productive environment to perform.

When it comes to performance and productivity, measurement is the word which pops ups. What about enablement?

Creating an environment to perform is the investment we need to make- measurement is an outcome.

Taking a cue from India’s participation and results in Olympics, the discussion is always on the number of medals not on building an ecosystem, which enables performance.

Similarly, in teams, today review conversions have superseded coaching conversations. Which leads to transactions, not value! The questions we have to ask -are we enabling performance of our team members or just measuring outcome?

At qilo, we did a work place culture study, wherein we asked people what does it take you to perform in an organisation. Two most important factors and dimensions, which came out, were alignment and coaching.

Clear direction, defined roles and continuous coaching and feedback enable performance. Critical areas we miss out in while driving and focusing on transactions.

Performance measurement is an output – Enablement is an input.

Focus on input outcome will definitely be great!

Wise Man – Home Sapiens

Flipping pages of Yuval Noah’s Spaiens made me realise; one of the primary reasons for humans to survive has been hunger of constant evolution and to become a dominant race

Adapting with changing times, identifying threats and innovating survival strategies. Our agility and responsiveness towards constant evolution have ensured our survival for long. These traits have become part of consciousness and DNA

However, when we try to map these to organisation’s DNA – which is the culture. In some cases, it does not map with the DNA of the wise men.

Suddenly evolution becomes an effort and teams are too lazy to change. The hunger to become a dominant force get’s overpowered by complacency and mediocrity. Till the time we do not get a threat of extinction, we keep on procrastinating.

But, the organisations, which challenges the legacy, work’s for the future readiness, acknowledges evolution and drives these behaviours as a way of life – Performs and evolves. Rest all survives till the time they can.

Build organisations’, which performs and evolves or get ready to be extinct!

Feedback !

Feedback is breakfast of champions. Feedback is for those you are hungry for success. Feedback is for those who never settle on ordinary. Feedback is for those to want to strive for growth.

If feedback is so good, why does it lead to conflicts?

It’s because people do not know how to give feedback and people do not know how to receive feedback.

Behaviours expected from the feedback givers are off coaching, leadership, and empathy. Behaviour expected from the receiver is of learning.

Wherein in reality behaviour exhibited by giver is like an authoritarian and of an assessee is; I know it all.

The problem is much bigger than just receiving or giving feedback. The challenge is of lack of trust and belief between leader and subordinate.

Leaders have to first display a coaching behaviour and lead by example before even giving feedback. You have to pitch yourself as a leader first and ensure that you succeed in pitching.

The day you do correct this core and build managerial effectiveness – You will have a culture of constructive feedback conversations.

Build leaders first before building feedback culture…

Deconstructing Employee Engagement

A lot has been written and spoken about employee engagement. Everyone knows how important is this for innovation ,success and growth but not many people are clear, what is takes to create a culture of performance.

Employee Engagement is as complex as a human brain — It has Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology and Social Psychology

Engagement first starts at an individual level, what is that I am too looking for and what is that I am doing, then it moves to a relative state — what others are doing and what do they get… and so on

Behavior’s, attitudes and perception are as volatile as the stock market and at one instance I believe you and at another I do not .

So how to address the problem ?

There is no formula, but if you dig deep you realise it’s not that complicated. If you as an organisation believe in;

  • Transparency — Do what you say and walk the talk
  • Admitting Mistakes — Where you went wrong
  • Communicate , communicate & communicate — Kill the perception or an imaginary devil
  • Show Purpose & Vision — Show where you are headed to and why you are doing what you are
  • Participate — Ensure people participate in the journey, show them the larger picture
  • Involve Employees — In decision-making
  • Don’t kill creativity — There are no SOPs for innovation , encourage people to do creative thinks — Ideas happen when the mind is free
  • Coach — Turn you managers into coaches, respect is earned not commanded

Remember if you ask an employee to dig the earth , they will dig a hole. If you ask them that we are constructing a canal, helping water reach million of thirsty people — they will dig passionately , purposefully , creatively and most importantly timely