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Performance Management in the Pandemic: A Recap of Our Webinar with Josh Bersin

By Betterworks
3 minute read
Updated on August 30, 2022

Everything seems to have changed with respect to performance management in wake of the global pandemic. 40% of Americans have changed jobs, roles, or managers this year—that’s a lot of transformation. With all this change, leadership must figure out how to give their employees goals, direction, and continued support.

Betterworks sat down with Josh Bersin, a world-known industry analyst, educator, and thought leader in all aspects of HR, leadership, and HR technology to discuss the changes we’re facing. He shared his findings and insights into what performance management practices can be changed or adopted to drive results since the pandemic.

For one, the pandemic has forced organizations to rethink resilience. Business resilience is the ability an organization has to quickly adapt to disruptions or change while maintaining operations and a healthy, engaged employee base. Organizations aren’t inherently resilient; they are burdened with practices, processes, structures, and hierarchies that get in the way. With the changes that have been brought by the pandemic, leadership is realizing they don’t have the time to spend figuring out what to do—they have to act now.

In addition to ramping up business agility, organizations are learning how to operate remotely and must orient toward distributing control. Different organizational decisions will be made in different cities based on where the virus is and what is happening in a particular location. This means HR business leaders must be empowered to take control at a local level and focus on building personal relationships and trust between HR and the company as a whole—human relationships are more important than ever.

Josh Bersin said that from the beginning, Betterworks “has been creating the infrastructure or operating system to operate in an agile manner—being able to develop a team, go after a problem, hold people accountable, understand who is doing what, and adapt in a resilient way.” Bersin outlined how Betterworks has been working on organizational resilience in the following ways:

  1. Operating Model: distributed authority with central coordination
  2. Capability: deep levels of training and experience
  3. Relationships: socio-technical systems and personal relationships
  4. Shared data: real-time situational awareness
  5. Leadership: build trust and believe in creativity and innovation

Bersin then dove deeper into how to understand performance management within the context of a company. Everything an organization accomplishes is people dependent. If those people don’t feel aligned and empowered, your company is not going to operate with agility or resilience.

Yet, performance management is an overly complex process. How can leaders simplify the process and get down to basics? Bersin walked through four foundational pieces of performance management:

  1. Setting Goals. 

“This is what Betterworks has been about from the beginning,” Bersin said. “How do we create a small number of meaningful goals that we can all agree on?” Clarity is the key—especially in times of turmoil, change, and uncertainty. Employees need to know what they should focus on so they can get their work done.

  1. Learning.

“Learning is more than just results. Results won’t be effective if you don’t have things like learning, and sharing, and coaching.” Employees and leaders must be open to professional growth to feel supported and informed when tough or quick decisions must be made.

  1. Feedback.

“Companies with more feedback practices absolutely have higher performance. Betterworks builds feedback conversations into their performance process,” stated Bersin.  We need systems like Betterworks that can get us feedback at different level based on different types of goals.”  Feedback systems support day-to-day and week-to-week goals. They help organizations not only support those goals, but execute them.

  1. Differentiation.

“People want to know that there will be accountability and they want it in a clear and transparent way.” As business resilience relies on quick decision making, commuting transparently is key as employees are satisfied when they understand why and how that decision was made.

Trust, it seems, is the new business currency. Performance management has to be a process that maintains and improves trust, which means it has to be credible, fair, and transparent. 

After walking through the individual make-up of performance management, Bersin broke down how to leverage that process in order to create a resilient business, primed for decision-making and leadership in the face of uncertainty.

Creating business resilience

  1. Health and Wellbeing: take care of people and their families
    1. Focus support on employee health and safety
    2. Aggressively listen to the workforce to define return to work places
    3. Create integrated support for families and the entire worker’s life
  2. Business Agility and Change: drive agility and change through mission
    1. Reinforce and invigorate focus on purpose and mission
    2. Communicate and support agile teams to deal with ambiguity
    3. Quickly adopt technology to develop new products and services
  3. Adaptive transformation: reinvent work, jobs, and talent practices
    1. Rapidly, creatively, and strategically hire new, needed talent
    2. Heavily leverage contingent and part-time workers
    3. Facilitate and support teams to experiment and learn quickly
    4. Simplify and speed up performance management

With all of these important pieces of the performance management process, companies need a simple system that grows along with them. Bersin suggests choosing an easy-to-use tool like Betterworks to simplify this process and allow your company to focus on the most important goals. 

Watch the full webinar: Performance Management in the Pandemic with Josh Bersin.