In my last post The Politics of Performance I wrote about how manager bias during the performance review process may impact an organisation's ability to accurately identify and retain critical talent. That's why it's important to identify the best managers in the organisation, i.e. the ones who look out for their teams and operate with the least personal bias for the good of the organisation.
But how do you identify the best managers? I suggested several metrics, including quality of hire, quality of movement and quality of turnover. These metrics look further than the typical KPIs of time to fill, time since last promotion and turnover rate to give a feel for the quality of people who join and leave an organisation under a particular manager.
Note that these metrics still won't solve the bias problem if 'quality' is measured by manager review ratings. To make these metrics meaningful it's important to take a broader view of quality, which may include multiple reviewers, social feedback, successful projects completed, days absent, etc.
The only way to really solve manager bias when it comes to performance and rewards is to give people better tools to manage their own careers rather than relying on the manager to do it and leaving the organisation for a better role when it doesn't happen. This implies the need for a more organic approach to organisational development and management of talent.
Lately there's been buzz about algorithms that can predict your next job and how successful you'll be at it. Since many of today's jobs didn't even exist ten years ago, it's unclear how accurately an algorithm - even one that looks beyond manager feedback and 'what has worked in the past' - can predict success in a new role. Nonetheless, big data has the advantage of taking a wider view of a person's skills and potential than a typical performance review. Even more interestingly, big data can suggest next career steps to individuals looking for a new opportunity.
Josh Bersin wrote a compelling post about how the nature of jobs are changing. Instead of functions, people assume roles, perform tasks and participate in projects. They may ‘report to’ a number of people besides their own manager, from project managers to stakeholders. They may lead teams and manage projects without a manager title.
In this borderless work environment the traditional 'management' role of the manager becomes less important. People still need direction and leadership but classic top-down management gets in the way of collaboration. Instead, people need visibility into the business information that shapes their decisions and autonomy to get the job done.
The traditional career development role of the manager also looks different in this environment as people plug into social networks, reach out to mentors, and broadcast their skills and experience in public forums such as LinkedIn. Companies that want to retain top talent will have to provide tools that help people define their own career paths so they don’t feel they must go elsewhere for the next development opportunity.
The formal annual manager performance evaluation is likely to evolve into less formal, more frequent peer reviews and feedback supplemented by improved insight into work and business results, which should also drive individual and team rewards.
It seems pretty clear that in this new world, the need for traditional ‘managers’ who make the all important decisions about careers and rewards will decline, even if organizations still cling to them out of habit for a few more years. At the same time, more people will uncover new opportunities to become leaders in their respective areas of expertise.
Which means that modern organisations must identify, develop and reward leaders, not just managers. And for many companies, this will require significant changes in how they operate, how they organise and how they manage people.
Laura Schroeder is EMEA product marketing director at Workday, headquartered in Pleasanton, CA. She has nearly fifteen years of experience envisioning, designing, developing, implementing and evangelizing global Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions and holds a certificate in Strategic Human Resources Practices from Cornell University. Her articles and interviews on HCM topics have been published in the US, Europe and Asia. She lives in Munich, Germany and enjoys cooking, reading, writing, kick boxing (well, kicking things) and spending time with friends and family. If you want to read more from Laura, check out her talent management blog Working Girl or follow her on Twitter @WorkGal.