Posts Tagged "performance’

The Future of Compensation is Crowdsourced

By Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe blog logoRecognize This! – Shifting a portion of compensation to the crowd is one way companies can ensure greater effectiveness and alignment to performance.

The transformation of performance reviews is a topic increasingly top of mind for many HR professionals. One of the major driving forces is the changing nature of performance itself. Whether you view it through the lens of the gig economy, teams-based organizing, or the knowledge economy, performance in modern organizations is simultaneously becoming more fluid and complex.

Compensation practices have sometimes lagged behind these changes. Companies can easily find themselves in the position of just throwing money at the dual challenges of attracting and retaining talent, and also increasing motivation and engagement. All without seeing much actual return.

Moving forward, companies seeking to maintain a competitive advantage will need to find ways of more effectively leveraging compensation. Turning to the crowd can be one way that compensation and performance can be more aligned.

As I wrote in a post earlier this week on Compensation Cafe, crowdsourced compensation allows a company to move its investments closer to the contributions that individual employees are making.

Here are four reasons, excerpted from that post, making the case for companies to consider shifting more of their compensation portfolios to crowdsourced methods:

  1. It creates a strong connection for each employee, linking specific behaviors and accomplishments to overall group success and the broader organization.

  2. It creates a culture of performance where the emphasis is not only on what one contributes, but also on recognizing the contributions of others.

  3. It is better able to acknowledge the performance that comes from teams and groups, following the projects and teams that form and reform throughout the year.

  4. It helps an organization attract top talent, signaling the importance the organization places on creating a human workplace and creating an ownership mentality among employees for performance.

As performance itself becomes a more dynamic phenomenon, compensation practices must evolve to keep pace and allow the organization to sustain competitive advantage.

What are your thoughts on the changing nature of performance and compensation?

Compensation Cafe: Cultural Practices for a More Dynamic Workplace

By Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe logoRecognize This! – Shifting away from too much hierarchy, organizations need to emphasize more dynamic and more human ways of working.

The pace of changes facing modern businesses is incredible. Many organizations are finding that those changes require an evolution in management philosophy- away from aspects that were successful during the Industrial Era and toward aspects that allow the organization to be more dynamic.

One of those groundswell transformations has played out in the very way that many businesses are organized. As Eric Mosely recent said in an interview with Forbes: “Organizations are changing. The way we work is changing. The top-down hierarchical approach is a dying legacy of the industrial era.”

I was thinking of that quote as I was reading some recent research on the potential pitfalls of clinging to those hierarchies. Summarizing that research in this recent post on Compensation Café, those pitfalls can include: (a) skewed levels of participation between leaders and other team members, (b) a failure to hear from the most knowledgeable or able contributor, and (c) a rush to agreement at the expense of more effective decisions.

How can we avoid those pitfalls, as the role of traditional hierarchy is replaced with more dynamic structures?

I propose three cultural practices, which are excerpted from the full post below:

  1. Leaders as coaches. While it is important for leaders to provide a clear and motivating vision of the direction the company or team should take, it is equally important to provide employees the autonomy to determine the specific path to that goal.

  2. Crowdsourced performance. Teams and organizations are successful when there is a shared understanding of who knows what, and who has which skills and abilities.

  3. Recognition of differences and diversity. Constructive debate often comes from diverse perspectives and the ability to give voice to those perspectives. Greater participation and empowerment, as mentioned above, both help employees feel they have a voice.

Each of these practices are supported through technology solutions that amplify and reinforce relationships between all employees. Solutions like social recognition, for example, acknowledge the unique role that each employee can play in achieving greater performance, sharing knowledge of best practices and experiences, and encouraging greater diversity in how performance in achieved.

How is hierarchy being transformed at your organization?

Compensation Cafe: Chasing Best Practices

By Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe logoRecognize This! – Research on best practices can help a company know what to focus on, but leaders need to consider how those practices play out in their own unique cultures and situations.

Benchmarks and best practices can give company leaders insight into what those around them are doing, how much they are spending, and how well they are performing. These data are especially useful when aligned with the strategic direction a company has set, ensuring that time and resource investments are directed to where there is the most value.

A recent report from PayScale, which I covered in this post on Compensation Cafe, helps to provide some useful data around compensation practices, particularly among top-performing and average companies. Here’s what they found in their research:

It turns out that high performers are more likely to provide pay increases (90% compared to 84%), bonuses (81% compared to 74%), and are also likely to leverage more of a compensation mix. High performers are also more likely to adopt a mindset in which people are valued and engage in more transparent communication around compensation.

The important question for many companies is what to do with this information and what best practices should be adopted as a result. For leaders looking to drive change, it helps to know where to focus attention, as well as what the causal direction of relationships between organizational practices and performance are.

As I write in the full post, if we look across the available research, one conclusion is:

…there appears to be some evidence that a set of compensation practices can relate to increased performance, and it is good for clients to be aware of those as possible benchmarks. But, I think it is also important to think in terms of broad, rather than specific practices. We may be better served by looking at practices that have the ability to enhance motivation instead of just doling out raises, for example. Specific practices may also work a little differently across contexts, with each company developing a unique definition of compensation transparency vis-à-vis the local culture.

Compensation is still just one piece of a complex set of organizational design practices, including how to make work more human, that ultimately contribute to performance. Many of these practices combine to influence employees’ perceptions of their workplace. The key to best practices then is not to do just one thing well, but to do many things well that communicate the value that employees have.

What best practices do you think have the most impact, and how are they best applied?

We Really Aren’t Working as Hard as We Say We Are

by Lynette Silva

Burning the midnight oilRecognize This! – A good sign of a misguided approach to measuring value at work is when we game the major mechanism of measuring that value.

We have a problem at work. We seem to have jumped ahead to robot era, forgetting that we’re really humans. Humans with volatile emotions, a need to sleep, competitive and compassionate natures, complex lives. We are messy. And we simply don’t know how to deal with that mess well.

Case in point – Yes, we work too many hours, but we also exaggerate the number of hours we work. This article highlights recent research showing “31 percent of the men and 11 percent of the women [at a high-powered consulting firm] managed to moderate their work schedule while still looking like they were cranking out 80 or 90 hours a week.”

So, what’s the big deal? We care more about butts-in-seats face time (or the appearance of it) than we do about actual productivity. In her excellent book Overwhelmed, Brigid Schulte pointed to research showing that, in terms of work actually produced, French workers (who work 35 hour weeks) are more productive than US workers. We’re demanding overwork from ourselves and others for little to no benefit.

And this in endemic in certain industries, especially for summer interns. It’s a sign of a broad system failure when it’s major business news when a major financial services organization tells interns to “only” work 17 hours a day and not sleep in the office.

That’s why the WorkHuman 2015 conference rang so true for me. I read too much every day from sources across industries about how we are, in fact, working quite inhumanely. Preparing for a panel discussion I had the deep honor and privilege to lead, I learned even more about just how deeply we’ve dug this pit of false productivity. (Check out the links at the bottom of this post for reviews of the panelists’ books.)

Tim Leberecht, one of those panelists and author of The Business Romantic, shared his insights on why WorkHuman matters in a blog post here. To summarize the key points (but really, read the full post):

  • Work-life integration: catering to the body and soul
  • Purpose: inspired by something greater than yourself
  • Workplace experience: designing for mystery, delight, and play
  • Happiness is overrated
  • The ROI of meaning? Meaning!
  • HR and marketing can be the great humanizers

Where do you see the most inhumanity at work? How would you infuse more humanity into your own workplace?

WorkHuman Panelist Book Reviews


Let’s Stop Calling Them “B-Players”

by Derek Irvine

Who's in the spotlight in your organization?Recognize This! – All employees contribute to the success of the company, just maybe not from center stage.

I’ve been working in this space at the intersection of people, HR, technology, and appreciation for many years now. In that time, I’ve seen, heard and read many different attitudes and approaches for how to motivate others, how to manage talent, how to rank employees based on skills and performance, etc. As a reader of this blog, I’m sure you have, too.

One attitude that I’ve come to regard as deeply insidious and dangerous in an organization is thinking about employees as “A” and “B” players. Yes, we all know there are superstar employees, and those who are less skilled or perhaps less committed (or sometimes, just more interested in truly achieving work-life balance). And yet, the blinders of “A vs B” cause us to miss out on the great work, contributions and support our so-called “B” players are ready and willing to give, if just given the chance.

Late last year, Thomas J. DeLong, Philip J. Stomberg Professor of Management Practice in the Organizational Behavior area at Harvard Business School, wrote an article on Harvard Business Review titled “2 Myths about Engaging B-Players.” It’s a follow-up to his seminal article, “Let’s Hear It for B Players.” In the article, Dr. DeLong points out:

“The business world’s understandable fascination with star performers can lure us into the dangerous trap of underestimating the vital importance of supporting actors. Top players do make enormous contributions. Yet in our collective 30 years of consulting, research, and teaching, we have found that companies’ long-term performance relies heavily on the often overlooked commitment and contributions of B players.”

He goes on to point out two myths of Players. First, many organizations tend to focus on getting more out of B players in boom times when resources are tight. That approach means these organizations are missing out on that additional discretionary effort the rest of the time. Second, there really aren’t any B players in highly competitive companies such as Google. I would argue we don’t have any B players at Globoforce, either.

You may be asking, “What about the performance bell curve? Isn’t that a reality? After all, every employee can’t be in the top 10% of high performers.”

Yes, this is true, but it misses the point. As Dr. DeLong points out, many of those in what I call the “Mighty Middle” simply don’t seek the limelight. They don’t need to “shine” themselves. But they certainly deliver high-quality work that makes it possible for your superstars to shine even brighter themselves.

So, can we agree to ban the phrase “B Players” when talking about the valuable people we have the honor to work with every day? Instead, be sure all employees have the opportunity to be respected, recognized and rewarded – regardless of their place in the spotlight – for their behaviors, contributions and efforts that help us all succeed better together.

How does your organization think about employee classification?

What You Can Still Learn from Bad Surveys

Recognize This! – Surveys can tell us interesting information; even poorly constructed ones also have deeper lessons.

I’m a believer in the value of surveys. I really am. But poorly constructed or terribly worded surveys send me off. They are a waste of time of the people you are surveying and, worse, a waste of resources if actually used for decision making.

Case in point – this survey that reports on what makes employees “feel good” at work.

What does that exactly mean – “feel good?” Some people feel good when there’s good coffee in the café. Others “feel good” when they steamroll whoever they need to achieve their goals. An excerpt:

“A survey [poll of 1,400 workers] by Samaritans and Simplyhealth has revealed that getting on well with the people you work with is the most fulfilling part of a job, with 42% of respondents saying that positive relationships helped them to feel good at work. In comparison only 14% cited hitting their targets as their top factor for feeling good at work.”

The challenges with this are obvious. Yes, of course, good relationships at work are important. That’s why it’s one of the Gallup Q12 questions (“I have a best friend at work.”). But the point of work is to achieve the targets and goals laid out for you.

What if you could build those relationships at work in a strategic way to help achieve targets and, as a result, get much more than “feeling good”?

Another article in the same publication makes my point for me. It doesn’t matter if your relationships make you “feel good” if you don’t know how to build and use those relationships effectively.

“According to research released today, half of UK employees feel that their organisation does not help them develop good team working skills.

“The survey of 2,000 people, conducted by training consultancy, Cedar, revealed…that unworkable relationships within teams had a direct effect on productivity, with a third of those surveyed admitting that they dread going into work as the result of a bad team environment. Furthermore, a third of respondents feel that a tense atmosphere has an impact on their ability to do their job correctly.”

Relationships at work are undeniably critical to achieving targets. And managers do have a direct responsibility for facilitating healthy relationships (especially in removing bullies or others who are intentionally, consistently detrimental to relationships).

Everyone has a responsibility for building positive relationships that also drive individual and team performance and productivity. That’s where a strategic, social employee recognition program comes in. When everyone is committed to noticing and appreciating the achievements and efforts of those around them, relationships are naturally built in a positive way. And goals and targets are achieved.

What’s the worst survey you ever saw?

3 Ways to Counteract Fear in the Workplace

Recognize This! – Employees respond poorly to fear, hindering success for everyone. Positively counteract fear to get everyone back on the right path.

In a not-so-shocking headline, Forbes recently proclaimed “Job Ax Fears Can Mess with Employee Engagement & Morale.”

While I know no one reading this post is surprised by this in the least, the article does go on to make several good points, including the paranoia caused by constant fear of layoffs leading to a destruction of trust and teamwork.

And this stress is happening at levels of the organization, not just the leadership tier. I wrote about research showing middle managers are far more stressed than senior leaders. Now additional research out of the UK shows the same results.

When people are working in this constant state of fear, they respond in several common ways. They hoard information, thinking they will have too much “institutional knowledge” to be in the next round of layoffs. This leads to aggravation among teammates who find it harder to get the work done, perhaps because they’re doing double work or failing to deliver because of missing information. Very quickly, the result is a breakdown in relationships and the way people work together to get the job done quickly, efficiently and effectively.

3 Ways to Counteract Natural Human Behaviors Caused by Fear

  1. Constantly communicate – A fear environment develops in an information vacuum. People will create their own story (often, a far more negative version) in the absence of the truth. Honestly, clearly and regularly communicate with employees on the state of the company, future direction, and potential impacts.
  2. Encourage recognition between peers – Specifically design a strategic, social recognition program to acknowledge and reward the behaviors you need (and consequently discourage those you don’t.) Encourage employees to recognize each other for sharing information, for speeding projects along, for teamwork, etc.
  3. Set an example – Always remember, employees (indeed, no one) responds well to “Do as I say, not as I do.” Set the example by frequently, specifically and in a timely way recognizing your team members and others in the organization for demonstrating the values and behaviors you need and want to see again and again.

Is fear a common emotion in your workplace? What other ways can you or your leadership work to counteract fear?