In HR, communication does have power! or does it??
How many of us think that performance management is just one of those annual HR rituals where a bunch of forms are shoved in across all the employee desks, with a prayer that there be godspeed in the exercise getting completed without any employee issues.
This is just a wish, and reality is far away.
Jack Welch is quoted to have said this on performance management (ranking): “Ranking has been portrayed as a cruel system. The cruel system is the one that doesn’t let anyone know where they stand.”
And where they stand can be only clear, when each engaged employee/partner is communicated of how his contribution to the organizational goals and revenues will be measured.
A lot has been said and written about how it is important and crucial to manage performance in an organization, not much emphasis has been laid on the importance of communicating it to the members of the organization – at all levels.
This leads to a lot of confusion, uncertainty, and most of all, shock and surprise when in the middle of the year/end of the year, the employees are measured, reviewed, and evaluated by a process which they are not even prima facie aware of.
A lot of times, such a performance management exercise, which is truly objective and equal to all gets perceived to be biased, and partial; the only culprit in this whole event is the absence of a well laid down communication strategy – within the organization to all internal stakeholders.
That strategy which will, well in time, at the beginning of the period or year under review, state in writing to each and every employee the measures and attributes by which his/her contribution will be done.
Lack of such communication will also have an adverse impact of the really performing lot in the team. Whilst they give in their best, which would have exceeded their division and business objectives, they would see that their not so performing peers also seem to hold the same stature and growth in a ‘patriarchal’ management (perceptions matter a ton).
This can be highly dangerous to the overall health and long term growth of the company. Unless people see a visible difference between where performers will stand – higher – and where non performers will stand – lower or out of the organization – the best of performers will desert the organization.
Communication, in the right time and in a very transparent manner (with all the measures quantified, sans any scope for bias), will be a decisive differentiator that would enable all concerned to view the process as legitimate and objective. And once this happens, tremendous amount of discipline comes by in the way everyone views the short term and long term goals. And they also know how and where they will grow within, with the kind of work they do in the period under review.
This highlights the critical nature of the performance communication process, and the time and energy the HR team, the SBU heads, and the CEO ought to spend in making this exercise possibly the best communication amongst the employees. If there is one single exercise that would contribute directly to the top line and the bottom line of the organization, it is PERFORMANCE COMMUNICATION.
The best way to do this will be to create a sort of ‘war room’ that takes care of the whole communication process – planning, vetting, implementing at all levels top down, ascertaining feedback on whether everyone had understood their goals right through. And post the actual performance process, a check on whether what happened is as per the communiqué to each of the employee.
I am confident that those organisations which do not have such a process in place will do so on a war footing!
So, does HR Communication/performance communication matter?