How millennials are reshaping Performance management across organizations

If you are born after 1994, you are a ‘millennial’! By the year 2030, this millennial talent will comprise nearly 75% of the workforce – which means that their career aspirations, attitudes about work, and knowledge and usage of technologies will define the culture of the 21st-century workplace.

A generation with a completely different worldview, this technologically savvy, collaboratively networked and ambitious generation is growing up at a time of rapid change, with making them significantly different from the previous generations.
And as key HR contributors, you will have no alternative but take a cognizance of this key force, making us re-look at every people impacting processes, cater to and engage effectively this vibrant generation. It is already making us drastically challenge our basics and will make us change many a concept including performance management.

In this article, we talk about how millennials are completely reshaping the concept of performance management. What you do in this space will have a massive impact on employee engagement, retention, and recruitment in the organization. Let’s look at some peculiar characteristics of millennial employees and what they expect from the organization.

Before we focus on performance management, let’s take a quick look at the drivers for these millennials:
1. Ambitious career aspirations – the base is given; the pace is fast; the need is “now”
2. Flexible approach to work – uncomfortable with rigid corporate structures, want flexible approach to work, ready to experiment, ready to make mistakes, no hierarchies (need for self-managed teams will increase)
3. Technology as a driver in the workplace
4. Different Attitudes About Work – with a drive to do different things, quality of work life and ability to pursue alternative interests; want to tackle big issues and routines become boring

With these drivers, the key assumptions of performance management are being challenged to the core.
1) From traditional individual performance management to team-based delivery management
The technology-savvy millennials work on strengths of the digital era and are ready to automate the routines. Their outlook towards work is “Value add” which is not an individual based task. They are tuned in to leverage their network/team to deliver the outcome. This will require the traditional outlook to change from an individual performance management to a team-based delivery management. The performance management system will need to be re-calibrated to acknowledge team delivery rather than individual pieces. This surely will require HR professionals to break the basic norm of the traditional performance management system and go beyond the box. The design of the system will need to incorporate Contributions areas in place of KRAs (Key Result Areas).

2) From Annual cycles to Flexible Process
The approach of the millennials will lead to the natural death of the annual cycle, which will die its natural death. This will need to be replaced by a flexible process which they feel is in their hands and not controlled by a central trigger. The process will need to give them the handle of the timing and ownership to manage their presence in the organization. (this will in a way relieve you as HR for the extensive follow up that is required to close cycles). Will this lead to disorganized management of this process? I personally don’t think so, because I am sure you all will agree that they do not like discipline to be forced upon them, but when they own the discipline, they are ready to burn the mid-night candles and make things happen. The effort will be to move the process accountability to them rather than an organizational level. This will be exciting organization development work with this generation challenging the way we look at things.

3) From interval based feedback to real-time and agile inputs
Millenials have zero patience and expect real-time feedback – here and now. They solicit advice and opinions across professional and personal lives. Being voracious learners and a drive to do something different, their cycles are short (I call this generation as Maggi 2-Minute generation – Instant!). They will also not worry of where the feedback is coming from. Use of social media to get their inputs (that’s the way they will look at it rather than a feedback), uninhibited discussions/dialogs will challenge the way the eco-system will discuss on these inputs. They will not hold back sharing their observations with professionally more experienced people. The continuous flow of communication will ensure that they all remain informed on the current issues, changes, successes, challenges and deliberate on how to work on the upcoming problems. As HR, you will need to identify how to provide such channels for communication, vertically, laterally, spirally, horizontally and also scattered manner to help the generation receive inputs on the real-time basis. Social media like platforms will play a critical role towards instant inputs between co-workers
The other interesting fact is that millennials prefer qualitative feedback, rather than quantitative feedback.

4) From competency based assessments to attitude based demonstrations
With the pace to do things, the millennials, prefer looking at things in packets rather than isolation. This will lead the competency assessment which are an integral part of the traditional systems, to be redesigned and replaced with the behavioral outcome and attitudinal models. Competencies like result orientation, initiative, pro-activeness, risk-taking will need to be bundled up to identify what they together demonstrate like in this case, this group of behaviors displays entrepreneurial attitude. This will challenge the normal competency models to evolve with the millennials making us look at roles, jobs, and workplaces differently.

5) From Managers & Reviewers to Coaches & Guides
The millennials are redefining the way the managers manage them. And therefore the role definitions of managers will change from being a reviewer to being a coach or a guide. If the manager needs to be respected, he/she will be challenged to the core on his/her coaching abilities. They will expect their Coach to open exchange of ideas, information, debates, provide an opportunity for instant gratification. At the same time, they will challenge their coaches to be observant and share their instant inputs on any personal traits, behaviors, attributes that can be a hindrance towards their growth and success. This implies that the traditional manager development will also need to be re-looked at! There is quite a quality work for each HR person as we welcome millennials and prepare the organization to assimilate their culture into the work-place.
This also is becomes necessary from a perspective that Millennials are generally independent in spirit. A study reflects that 72 percent of Millennials want to work for themselves, indicating that they prioritize autonomy, creativity, and flexibility. For those who work for others, they have expressed a wish that their manager act as more of a “coach” than a traditional manager.

6) From past assessment to future outlook
Millennials want precise, helpful information detailing what they are doing right, what they are doing wrong, and how they can improve. This is the only way they can excel at their work in future. Nothing will stop them from moving ahead, rather jobs. For them, there should be no room for misunderstanding. Their ability to confront and clarify along with lack of patience to delve on the past will make the full system focus on what’s next in store. Next assignment, next contribution, next level… Pertinent discussions will center around how I reach there then what has been achieved. “Good I’ve done so much, but what do I need to do to be there?”. The career dialogs will need to break the stereotypes and become tailor-made. Enhanced preparations for the dialogs by the coaches will make them look for options along with ability to coach the team members to realize their potential and dreams. This surely will challenge the overall performance management norms.
Millenials are determined about their future and will challenge the work-place to make opportunities for advancement not on hierarchy but based on the hunger to drive and deliver. If the performance management system, does not model this future outlook and advancement opportunity, then it will cost the company talented workforce As reflected by Deloitte’s Millennial Survey 2015, more than 53 percent of Millennials have high ambitions of being the leader of their current company.

So get future ready, as the millennial work-force numbers increase in your organization. These things cannot be changed overnight… … will require concerted and dedicated work over years, especially preparing the current leaders, managers, and the overall culture to assimilate this change. There will be experiments to be done, nothing is right or wrong…. On the way, fine-tuning will need to be done. The average Millennial talent isn’t scared to leave his/her job when unsatisfied with the organizational processes or career prospects. You, as HR will need to understand this early, bring the design to the table and prepare your organizations. It will mean that just designing your performance management system is not good enough, but how you go will go about with the overall implementation, adaptation and institutionalization will really determine the millennial work-place.
To prevent your employees from growing disillusioned with their job and disengaged with your company, set time aside to discuss their potential within your organization, how they might advance, and likely timeframes. Performance management process across organizations can be configured to create these plans and cater to these new bunch of millennials. Every performance management process should be fluid and adaptable. To guarantee success, an organization must roll with generational changes. Change is never simple or instant, but gradually working towards a working environment that makes the most out of your employees’ strengths is the best way to excel in the long term.

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Anupama Vaidya

Anupama Vaidya

Founder - Los Aurigas, Executive Director - Absotherm Group, Co-Founder - The Innovative Learners Brigade, Ex Vice President - Human Resources at Grindwell Norton (Saint-Gobain Group)
Anupama has more than 23 years of rich and diverse experience with key focus areas in People Management strategies, Organization Development & Leadership Development; Performance Management, Career & Succession Planning; Capability & Capacity Building & HR Operations . She is also a MyBrain Practitioner based on neurosciences.Key strengths include leadership in action; strategic management in alignment with business objectives; stakeholder management; coaching, counselling & facilitation skills; conceptualization & deployment of initiatives.
Views expressed are of the author.
Anupama Vaidya

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