The traditional nine-box grid of managing performance may be too ‘crude’ for organisations that want to get the best out of their people.
A session at the CIPD’s Annual Conference and Exhibition (ACE) this morning explored how employers can strike the right balance between performance management and talent management, and HR directors agreed that simply plotting where their people are on a chart may not be the best way of evaluating performance.
“Crude categorisation can be really damaging approach to anything in life,” said Timothy Craddock, Eastern region HR director for Network Rail, who said the organisation has moved away from using the nine-box grid model. “We’re increasingly focused on the ‘how’.”
He said it was still important to monitor employees’ performance and behaviours in some way. “Whether it’s a nine-box grid or not, the framework of being able to identify where people are at, how they’re performing, what their potential is, and using rich and impartial data to inform that… is important. In fact, you owe it to your other colleagues, and the organisation too, by managing people who are not performing at levels that are acceptable or who are not behaving in ways that are acceptable.”
Pauline Hogg, UK HR director for dairy company Arla, which is also moving away from the nine-box model, said employers still needed methods to identify the “amplifiers, prisoners and passengers” in their organisation, which meant that employees would “always be [placed] on a scale or a grid”.
She said: “Regardless of what we [use], we’re always going to be assessing people based on the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. [But HR needs to think about] how we create the narrative around what we’re assessing against.”
Craddock said that talent and performance management should be centred around continuous performance discussions, performance reviews and feedback, but urged HR professionals the ensure that these conversations are not seen as a “thing” by employees, giving the example of an annual performance review. Development should feature in usual conversations between managers and employees, he said.
Being able to grow and develop in a role is now employees’ top consideration when thinking about a new role or organisation, said Mervyn Dinnen, HR and talent trends analyst and author.
He cited the results of a survey he carried out that found 91% of jobseekers said that L&D opportunities were most important when choosing one company over another.
The same survey found that 69% of new employees changed jobs because they wanted to learn new skills, whereas only 62% cited salary as the reason.
He encouraged employers to be cautious when discussing performance and development with employees. “Support and enablement are much nicer than management and direction,” he said.
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