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Performance conversations – Promoting inclusivity

Performance conversations – Promoting inclusivity

By Retuura Ballotti

Human Resources Manager for Retail Banking at Bank Windhoek

There is no denying the speed of misalignment between technological advances in the workplace that should be geared at allowing an increase and improvement in business efficiency and employee engagement.

According to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, there is a jarring development where business is not catching up with the technological sophistication and speed that is deployed elsewhere in our lives.

That being said, this should not be used as an excuse to hamper performance conversations – we should not rely on systems to talk to each other in the workplace. In our private lives many of us have become accustomed to instant real-time gratification and immediate feedback to pertinent questions that we receive from the various internet search engines, social media and smartphone applications. Therefore, why should this be any different in the workplace?

Performance management is being redesigned into a simpler approach in order to get back to the essence of its true purpose which is to talk to each other openly about actual performance instead of about each other.

We have become fearful of talking about performance that we hide behind timelines, structures and processes put in place by HR departments to facilitate performance management and development that we use that as an excuse not to talk to each other. These structures are created to ensure that the performance is measured and addressed but it is not designed to limit conversations.

This results in many being surprised at the outcomes of the mid-year or final year performance mandatory reviews. Employers need to create an enabling and inclusive working environment by leveraging off the power of their people. Continuous feedback allows for course correction and alignment instead of talking about the incident in hindsight.

The lack of authentic continuous conversations disables inspired thinking and innovation which are crucial facets of growth, learning and overall organisational success. Continuous conversations will manage the recency bias that takes place with formal performance discussions by managing the pressure of trying to accurately remember a year-long of activities.

Therefore, employers need to create structures that allow staff to feel empowered to give and get feedback regularly as people desire to feel that their contribution is valued, heard and used. One must be prepared that inclusivity and honest feedback means that we have to be open to the feedback that may not always be positive or something that one may want to hear but can greatly reduce blind spots and address a problems differently.

There is no better time than the present to defy the orthodox of having performance conversations at specified times of the year. It is my submission that each and every employee regardless of title, hierarchy, position and length of service break the silence and engage in conversations around expectations, efficiency, productivity and your own performance.

You do not need to wait for the mid-year or final year performance review to understand how you are performing at work. Nor do you need to set aside hours to engage in open and frank conversations. The first step to breaking the old rules of performance engagement is to start having a minimum of at least once a month meaningful conversations that can be as quick as 20 minutes to obtain feedback on the process, the output of the work and any challenges that may be hampering success.

Think carefully about the cadence of these sessions (there is no point holding daily conversations if no one attends and if there is nothing to report on). There is a risk that the feedback may not be positive but this would allow one to be proactive and make positive changes towards improving the outcome while promoting accountability and self-awareness.

To increase, manage and be fully aware of your competitive advantage, which is your people, is the overall goal of performance management. You will not be able to confidently say that you are managing this if you do not regularly engage with each other.

At Bank Windhoek we believe that one of the crucial pillars of being an employer of choice is employee engagement. The overall goal being to foster an environment that promotes yearlong feedback, development opportunities and non-stop learning to co-create a winning culture for all.



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