Recent events have accelerated a topic that has long been debated in global, dispersed operations. How do you drive performance in a consistent and data-driven way? And how do you make sure it is personalised, targeted and human? Most importantly, how do you deliver it in such a way that it is moving the needle on your day-to-day metrics, strategic goals, and your customer experience?
In this article, key members of the Gobeyond Partners team give their views on how this can be done holistically, by leveraging our Achieve Performance Management analytics tool.
With very different and unsettling realities previously unthinkable for many now the norm, two major challenges have presented themselves.
1. Dispersed teams need a fresh approach to work management
How teams communicate and the rhythms they use to deliver work will both need adaptation. With the near removal of opportunity for spontaneous conversation, ideation and collaboration commonplace in physical environments, the dispersed nature of operations for the foreseeable future will require far more structure to function effectively.
With 48% of leaders believing their current performance management processes are weak at driving business value, structure and discipline matters now more than ever. Whether conducting purposeful virtual meetings, acting on Key Performance Indicators or utilising intelligent analytics to highlight trends and outliers, there must be a considered adjustment of plans and priorities to reflect reality.
As we continue to support clients, we’ve observed that teams with strong operational discipline already in place are finding it easier to transition and adjust, with the learning curve much steeper for those with less mature approaches.
While we may not see quite the same levels of volatility and change as we did at the outset of the crisis, an ability to review, interrogate and drive action based on real-time data is paramount.
2. Colleagues need tailored support
Relative performance between colleagues can and will differ. In some cases, performance may improve due to home circumstances being more conducive to their personality types; for others, declines can be expected. This should influence the management focus individuals should be receiving, and the coaching style that is most effective.
With 37% of colleagues currently unhappy with the support and coaching received as they adjust to new ways of working and expectations, there is still much more to be done here.
Employee profiling can help explore the drivers and preferences of team members, and better distribute work according to ability; however, caution should be applied to ensure people aren’t placed into arbitrary categories. We’ve talked previously about how to really understand your people and how to support them through change.
By understanding behaviours and performance for each individual, you can establish actionable recommendations and tailored coaching to provide timely support. When this can scale across organisations, blending operational data and predictive analytics to model the impact of change and incorporate real-world performance in shorter loops, you empower everyone in your business to deliver improvements.
Our solution, successfully deployed in multi-site and virtual operations - empowering managers, team leaders and advisors to take control of their own performance
As understanding of drivers and outcomes increase, this may require teams to be reformed, based as much around the qualities and characteristics of individuals as it is around their professional skillset and functional responsibilities, with organisational design operating models adapting and flexing to enable this.
An opportunity to become better
While these challenges can seem like another problem to address alongside the changes in customer demand and logistical or technical hurdles of working differently, we should view them as a unique opportunity to reset and deliver a strong sense of value for everyone in your business.
We believe three significant opportunities should be recognised:
1. A focus on outcomes, not tasks
Clear, defined outcomes that are understood by all become more important than the ‘to-do list’. There is often a tendency in remote environments for teams to become more focused on tasks to complete, with interactions becoming more transactional in nature.
Getting the right structures in place, to align teams, embed disciplines and maximise connection are important bedrocks. However, delivering these in the context of ‘principles over process’ where possible will deliver the real transformation and performance gains.
Becoming more outcome driven drives further focus and scrutiny on the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Where dashboard reports are typically packed with multiple metrics and visualisations, now is the time to ask whether measures such as Average Handling Time or more transactional based satisfaction measures are really the right way to assess how effectively broader customer need is being met?
2. Balance frequent interval controls with a view of longer-term goals
With a focus on outcomes and a slimmer set of measures comes a broader understanding of how every colleague brings value to the organisation, increasing their ability and propensity to deliver during critical moments.
It is important, though, to strike the right balance between maintaining a manageable cadence, keeping energy levels and focus up, while reflecting on wider business objectives. Regular ‘social time’ for teams to decompress, reflect and realign their focus should feature in calendars, with more structure and frequency needed in remote working scenarios.
3. Use data more effectively
Combining disparate data sources, understanding end-to-end performance and identifying remedial action was an increasing priority pre-COVID. As teams are increasingly dispersed, this need becomes ever-more critical.
Combining key operational metrics into a high-level dashboard alone is no longer enough. We must also overlay customer and colleague engagement metrics including sentiment and emotional analysis, with algorithms highlighting overall trends and outliers, to drive further investigation of future roadblocks or areas of untapped opportunity.
While better use of data will play a huge role in building understanding and delivering improvements, it should never wholly replace ad hoc human interaction and more anecdotal sources.
Our key recommendations
The potent combination of uncertain global economics, rapidly shifting customer demand and reduced interaction, particularly between front-line colleagues and leaders, is creating a need to double-down on key operational disciplines.
In summary, our recommendations to ameliorate the challenges and seize the opportunities we discuss above are:
- Maintain focus on the core KPIs that are closely entwined with your organisational objectives. Not every manager is comfortable analysing data, but there are now lots of new ways you can introduce real data into 1:1 performance discussions
- Acknowledge any issues and communicate them broadly to build trust, camaraderie and a sense of everyone pulling in the same direction
- Take a whole company approach with consistency across all functions, aligned to strategic objectives
While micromanagement may be required in certain situations to manage performance and maintain focus, this should be done by exception only. Empowering colleagues to understand their own performance and drive improvement will help sustain highly motivated, adaptable teams for the future