In an exclusive interview with Rajiv Puri, Senior Vice President- Corporate HR at C&S Electric Ltd, we explore the primary drivers shifting the conversation around performance, the importance of people enablement culture, and why companies intentionally need to shift to the principles and practices of performance enablement.
C&S Electric believes that with the dynamic millennial workforce we deal today with, there is a need to create new opportunities and platforms for employees to reinvent themselves through empowerment and gain valuable experiences through new roles and challenges which are aligned to the business objectives.
Q: With the business landscape changing at an accelerated pace, how can ’People Enablement’ help in re-imagining performance management – moving past annual performance reviews and employee ranking? Do you think People Enablement will entirely replace Performance Management in the future?
A: People Enablement has various elements in it towards engagement of employees through their total ownership, technology adoption, adapting to change, accepting new challenges and continuous skill development. When we make a transition from traditional Performance Management to People Management, there will be a shift in employees’ mental profiling towards an emphasis on self-improvement, increased awareness, and accountability. This would mean a change in approach towards managing performance, however, the metamorphosis will take some time and we might see a mix of both, traditional Performance Management and new People Enablement tools, thereby setting both long and short-term objectives and getting real-time tools and feedback mechanisms in place.
Q: In your opinion, is performance enablement something that companies are aware of and working at? How is C&S Electric using it to reinvent performance evaluation and transform its business?
A: In the current business scenario, the right, trained, attitudinally adaptive and motivated talent is the need of the hour. The companies are aware of this and looking at future business demands and competition. There are specific efforts and initiatives which are taken to create a pool of top workers with the skills necessary for today as well as for the future. To gain advantages, the companies will need to address what candidates to look for and then plan to meet those wants.
C&S Electric believes that with the dynamic millennial workforce we deal today with, there is a need to create new opportunities and platforms for employees to reinvent themselves through empowerment and gain valuable experiences through new roles and challenges which are aligned to the business objectives. The traditional leadership models are no more relevant now and we understand that People Enablement is not a one-time project but an ongoing strategy that will keep on varying as per the business requirements.
As such, there is no one sure shot success model, but a continuous, evolving, innovating, and improving work in progress.
Q: With companies and HR departments shifting towards a more holistic performance enablement approach, how can they better support individuals in their roles and careers, and change the focus from company-first to people-first?
A: First, we need to understand and agree that Performance Enablement is not the responsibility of HR alone. This is a holistic approach where everyone across the company needs to be involved across all levels driven from the top. A pervasive communication program needs to be built around the concept and cascaded across the enterprise. Once there is clarity on roles and deliverables, mechanisms should be framed so as to attain the sustainability of the system. The new environment should support the individuals as well as the leaders to explore and reinvent themselves. There is a need for an efficient two-way communication system that brings along transparency and helps the individuals as well as the leaders to align themselves with the Organization Goals and Aspirations. This would encompass processes of both learning and unlearning, aptly supported by empowerment, trust, technology, ownership, and a sense of respect for each other. The idea is not only company-first but company along with people.
Q: Performance Enablement culture is even more important now as companies adapt to remote work. How can HR leaders build it as part of their company culture and enable a high performance & rewarding culture amid crisis?
A: It is true and important that an effective environment is required if the companies really want to achieve a successful People Enablement strategy. Often the mistake made by the companies is that they are not able to differentiate between People Management and People Enablement, while the former involves a hierarchical approach with goals not backed by systems and processes on managing people and business results, the latter is not a top-down strategy which completely focuses on what individuals can do to improve the business results.
People Enablement Culture starts with first taking away hierarchical bottlenecks and empowering individuals to take ownership and control of their performance and results along with an environment of openness and trust. This has to be coupled with a robust and ongoing communication system that helps the individual to express and align with expectations and deliverables. When such a culture is in a place where people have clarity and alignment to business targets with opportunities for professional growth, they feel appreciated and recognized for their contributions. This creates intrinsic motivation and engagement which helps the businesses to increase productivity while retaining top talent.
We need to understand and agree that Performance Enablement is not the responsibility of the HR alone. This is a holistic approach where everyone across the company needs to be involved across all levels driven from the top. A pervasive communication program needs to be built around the concept and cascaded across the enterprise.
Q: Often, companies have great engagement but still fall short of goals because of a lack of enablement. What is the relationship between engagement and enablement? Are companies with established engagement programs also better at enablement?
A: Employee Engagement can be seen as a subset of People Enablement. Although many companies have robust and fair Employee Engagement programs, yet they fall short in empowering a culture of People Enablement. It is imperative to note that the People Enablement framework cannot be achieved without involving leaders and management of the companies. Then there are key aspects that are overlooked while engaging with the employees, like empowerment, decision-making, trust and adaptability, fair opportunities for career growth, alignment of business goals, and a sense of partnership with the individuals. Most companies focus only on deliverables, but it is equally important to create enablers for these deliverables.
Q: Lastly, how can managers and HR professionals become the most important players in performance enablement?
A: Primarily, we have to understand that investing in human capital performance is an investment towards a company’s success in whatever manner they define it. The C-suite and Leadership Team has to reconcile the differences between focusing on results and focusing on people enablement to achieve those results. HR plays a key and pivotal role to help them to see this and drive people capability. Collaborative and compatible culture will help people to raise their performances along with increased opportunities and improved growth in the organization. In addition, teams with diverse groups of people are needed for true enablement. Companies have to look for talent inside and groom them rather than scour the market which may present scarcity and challenges.
A true People Enablement will take employees beyond just the engagement stage and empower them with the right set of capabilities and tools to deliver quality results in an ecosystem which has correct metrics measurement systems with a robust ongoing feedback and communication mechanism for improvement.
The basics have to be right which includes Culture, Employee Engagement, Diversity, Inclusion, Flexibility, Agility, and Alignment to business objectives. All of these have to be built upon the principles of Trust, Attitude, Empowerment, Creating Opportunities, Transparency, and Fairness. A true People Enablement will take employees beyond just the engagement stage and empower them with the right set of capabilities and tools to deliver quality results in an ecosystem which has correct metrics measurement systems with a robust ongoing feedback and communication mechanism for improvement. A structured program to induct eminent business leaders as coaches and mentors can facilitate and accelerate in developing the people enablement culture in the organizations.