The Elephant in the Room

Author: Joy Kosta, HCS, SWP | Source: HCI | Published: May 12, 2010

I’ve had great conversations recently with some of our members, Expert Advisors and senior practitioners about developing performance, engagement and related metrics.  Not surprisingly in integrated talent management and in organizations with multiple systems and facets, addressing one “problem” in isolation is like looking at an elephant through a pin hole. When it comes to performance, to address “the elephant in room,” cross-disciplinary teams are needed to collaborate, contribute their respective expertise, and address areas over which they have control and collective influence.

Examining the systems in which people work identifies processes that inhibit performance, says Bernard Marr. To keep performance metrics in front of people Bob Angel and Joe Cabral put merit in the scorecard approach. Nilofer Merchant points out that talent feedback while executing goals helps to refine the business strategy. A feedback loop about insights that are discovered along the way supports talent agility in execution, and speed of execution is about the people, explains Ed Boswell. Forum found that speed correlates with 40-50% of increased operating income and sales.

To make systems transparent, especially the dysfunctional ones, Laurie Bassi recommends asking talent the right questions in engagement surveys—questions about work processes, learning tools, and coaching.

Analytics make performance improvement more objective, and gathering the right metrics begins with articulating the outcome you want to improve, explains Jeff HigginsBonnie Beresford walks us through organizations that have turned analytics into action. 

Once an intervention to improve performance is determined, the success of any transformation effort requires project governance, key stakeholder management, and HR staff and stakeholder education to be stewards of the desired change. Hewitt Associates’ research discovered that leaders all too often focus heavily on making structure, process, or technology changes, while paying too little attention to project governance. When interdisciplinary teams oversee product launches, Steven Haines describes the leadership needed at each stage of the team’s work.

When improvement includes talent development as part of the solution, taking the application environment into account is critical explains Wendy Kirkpatrick. Andrew Jefferson outlines how to design training as a process rather than an event for maximum business impact.

If the ten “pinhole views” of improving performance above intrigue you, hope you’ll expand your insight by reading and sharing the e-Briefings, downloading the slides, podcasts, and/or webcast recordings on demand. The large "elephant" organization is capable of astonishing performance when those taking the lead connect the dots. Please post your comments about how your performance improvement efforts are progressing, and which of these ideas you've applied… your break-through could be the subject of a future webcast!

photo courtesy of pierre pouliquin