Human Capital Management Blog

Strategies for HCM Professionals

Why great performance development needs team players #MarchMadness

teamwork basketball march madness

By John Whyte, Sr. Product Manager, Dayforce Talent Management

March brings one of the most exciting events on the American sports calendar, as 68 college basketball teams compete in a single-elimination tournament to crown a national champion.  Few moments in sports get a fan’s heart racing more than the final seconds of a one-point game – exhausted players watching their coach draw up a final play that will lead to either buzzer-beating glory or a sudden end to a promising season.

In this emotionally charged moment, imagine if the coach looked his star point guard in the eye and said, “Don’t dribble the ball off your foot like you did back in December.”  This form of “coaching” would be both unhelpful and disengaging.

Incredibly, this is what many of us do every year with annual performance reviews.

Publications ranging from Harvard Business Review to BBC News have recently weighed in on the demise of traditional performance reviews and what bellweather companies like GE, Amazon, Deloitte, and Microsoft are doing to better develop their employees.  Flaws in the annual review process are many, but include:

  • A focus on past activities that have already been addressed rather than future development.
  • Rater bias, meaning that the rater’s opinions are clouded by their limited interactions with the employee or their own personal priorities.
  • Recency bias, in which the rater focuses on events that took place in the past few weeks.
  • Overcomplicated rating systems that reduce an employee’s status to a number rather than a person with a career plan.

In the basketball scenario above, the players have undoubtedly spent more time with each other than they have with their coach.  The coach owns the final decision on which play to call, but the discussion should be among teammates – a quick reminder of who goes where and what to do if things break down – in a play they’ve likely practiced dozens of times.  Watching the tournament this month, you’ll notice that some head coaches don’t even join the huddle during timeouts.

True performance development requires peer collaboration and continuous feedback.  It means regular check-ins to discuss the issues you’re facing today and how best to move forward, not to relive mistakes of the past.  Ultimately it should lead to a development plan for an employee to refine competencies and gather the skills necessary to advance to the next stage in that person’s desired career path.  By keeping these principles in mind, you can ensure that:

  • Discussions between employee and manager are forward-looking, constructive, and engaging.
  • Employees are receiving feedback from the people they work with every day, not just from the person who signs their review.
  • Your best talent has a clear path to their future career goals and can focus on those objectives.

Performance development is changing for the better.  Companies that embrace this evolution will see engagement rise and – most importantly – keep their top people from seeking career opportunities elsewhere.

John WhyteJohn Whyte joined Ceridian’s Talent Management product team in 2010 and has over 10 years of product management experience.  Current responsibilities include driving the Dayforce Talent Retention strategy for performance development, career pathing, compensation management and beyond.  John is a proud father of four year-old twin girls, a semi-retired bagpiper, and an avid sports fan.

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