Recently, GE explained how it will deeply revise performance reviews — an often untenable practice which has plagued organizations, both large and small for decades. Heavy with the burden of process and time, yearly reviews have long been the bane of organizations and managers. When the facts were thoughtfully considered, the value of these reviews simply wasn’t justifying the invested resources.
Most importantly, performance appraisals weren’t offering employees what they needed to guide behavior and develop — as the process siphoned time from their managers. Yearly performance reviews were no longer sustaining us, or the organizations in which we work.
The average life span of a company has decreased dramatically over course of the last century. (Nearly 50% of the Fortune 500 pre-2000 have disappeared or have been the subject of a merger/acquisition.) Many become other companies, which only serves to add to the challenges that employees must face. Organizations that endure, face the dangers of aging — which can include complacency and looming obsolescence. Sustaining an organization is no small feat. Leaders must balance a variety of priorities including a strategic vision and meeting the tide of change.
While contemplating this, I’ve realized that we’ve short-changed one critical part of that discussion — sustaining “us”. Contributors. People. Human beings. Here in the US for example, we work longer, but likely not smarter. We haven’t fully mastered the feedback employees require to be successful. We struggle to provide meaningful career paths to amplify contributor strengths. We sometimes miss the mark concerning that managers require training and support to help team their members thrive. We ignore the importance of re-charging as human beings — leaving countless vacation days on the table.
Things just don’t add up. Something had to give.
And it’s been us.
However of late, there is positive movement. There are organizations getting it right, who hold a strong belief that people are their organization. They intend to evolve in a manner so structure and processes can work with people — not against them. Once petrified, I see a glimmer in leaders who see the value of addressing the organization’s core people practices. Many are making the connection (see this from Google) and rolling up their sleeves to make changes. We are now actively discussing what comprises a healthy, supportive environment. I’m hearing increased chatter about psychological safety and the employer-employee exchange agreement.
With thoughtful decisions and a concerted investment in people — the relationship between employers and employees can shift in a way that will not only affect satisfaction and engagement — but creativity, innovation and success.
I’m watching with great anticipation to see what unfolds.
What is happening in your organization? Share your perspective.
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is the Director of Organizational Development at Allied Talent. Her posts on workplace topics have appeared in Forbes, The Huffington Post, US News & World Report and The World Economic Forum.