Performance Management

The New Analytics of Culture
Matthew Corritore, Amir Goldberg, and Sameer Srivastava. 1/31/2020. “The New Analytics of Culture.” Harvard Business Review. Publisher's VersionAbstract
A business’s culture can catalyze or undermine success. Yet the tools available for measuring it—namely, employee surveys and questionnaires—have significant shortcomings. Employee self-reports are often unreliable. The values and beliefs that people say are important to them, for example, are often not reflected in how they actually behave. Moreover, surveys provide static, or at best episodic, snapshots of organizations that are constantly evolving. And they’re limited by researchers’ tendency to assume that distinctive and idiosyncratic cultures can be neatly categorized into a few common types.
Can the Occasional 'Nudge' Make You Better at Your Job?
Laszlo Bock. 4/12/2019. “Can the Occasional 'Nudge' Make You Better at Your Job?”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
As the head of People Operations at Google, Laszlo Bock ’99 applied data analytics to human resources questions that have long been answered with hunches. His company Humu is now extending that approach for other organizations by providing AI-generated prompts to their employees. In a conversation with Yale Insights, Bock said that behavioral science, combined with an understanding of human feeling and careful attention to privacy, can help organizations run better. 
The Mystery of the Miserable Employees: How to Win in the Winner-Take-All Economy
Neil Irwin. 6/15/2019. “The Mystery of the Miserable Employees: How to Win in the Winner-Take-All Economy.” The New York Times. Publisher's VersionAbstract

On the day I met Brett Ostrum, in a conference room in Redmond, Wash., he was wearing a black leather jacket and a neat goatee, and his laptop was covered with stickers that made it appear you could glimpse its electronic innards. That was logical enough, because those circuits were his responsibility: He was the corporate vice president at Microsoft in charge of the company’s computing devices, most notably Xbox and the Surface line of laptops and tablets.

It was early 2018, and things were going pretty well for him. Despite Microsoft’s lineage as a software company, and as a brand not exactly synonymous with good design, it was making the most of its late start in the hardware business. Mr. Ostrum and his team were winning market share and high marks from critics.

But he saw a problem on the horizon. It came in the form of extensive surveys Microsoft used to monitor employees’ attitudes. Mr. Ostrum’s business unit scored average or above average on most measures — except one. Employees reported being much less satisfied with their work-life balance than their counterparts elsewhere at the company.

Reinventing Talent Management: How GE Uses Analytics to Guide a More Digital, Far-Flung Workforce
Steven Prokesch. 9/2017. “Reinventing Talent Management: How GE Uses Analytics to Guide a More Digital, Far-Flung Workforce.” Harvard Business Review. Publisher's VersionAbstract

During Jeff Immelt’s 16 years as CEO, GE radically changed its mix of businesses and its strategy.

Its focus—becoming a truly global, technology-driven industrial company that’s blazing the path for the internet of things—has had dramatic implications for the profile of its workforce. Currently, 50% of GE’s 300,000 employees have been with the company for five years or less, meaning that they may lack the personal networks needed to succeed and get ahead. The skills of GE’s workforce have been rapidly changing as well, largely because of the company’s ongoing transformation into a state-of-the-art digital industrial organization that excels at analytics. The good news is that GE has managed to attract thousands of digerati. The bad news is that they have little tolerance for the bureaucracy of a conventional multinational. As is the case with younger workers in general, they want to be in charge of their own careers and don’t want to depend solely on their bosses or HR to identify opportunities and figure out the training and experiences needed to pursue their professional goals.

What’s the solution to these challenges? GE hopes it’s HR analytics. “We need a set of complementary technologies that can take a company that’s in 180 countries around the world and make it small,” says James Gallman, who until recently was the GE executive responsible for people analytics and planning. The technologies he’s referring to are a set of self-service applications available to employees, leaders, and HR. All the apps are based on a generic matching algorithm built by data scientists at GE’s Global Research Center in conjunction with HR. “It’s GE’s version of,” quips Gallman. “It can take a person and match him or her to something else: online or conventional educational programs, another person, or a job.”

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Job Titles as Identity Badges: How Self-Reflective Titles Can Reduce Emotional Exhaustion
Adam Grant, Justin Berg, and Daniel Cable. 2014. “Job Titles as Identity Badges: How Self-Reflective Titles Can Reduce Emotional Exhaustion.” Academy of Management Journal, 57, 4, Pp. 1201–1225. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Job titles help organizations manage their human capital and have far-reaching implications for employees’ identities. Because titles do not always reflect the unique value that employees bring to their jobs, some organizations have recently experimented with encouraging employees to create their own job titles. To explore the psychological implications of self-reflective job titles, we conducted field research combining inductive qualitative and deductive experimental methods. In Study 1, a qualitative study at the Make-A-Wish Foundation, we were surprised to learn that employees experienced self-reflective job titles as reducing their emotional exhaustion. We triangulated interviews, observations, and archival documents to identify three explanatory mechanisms through which self-reflective job titles may operate: selfverification, psychological safety, and external rapport. In Study 2, a field quasiexperiment within a health care system, we found that employees who created selfreflective job titles experienced less emotional exhaustion five weeks later, whereas employees in two control groups did not. These effects were mediated by increases in self-verification and psychological safety, but not external rapport. Our research suggests that self-reflective job titles can be important vehicles for identity expression and stress reduction, offering meaningful implications for research on job titles, identity, and emotional exhaustion.
The Performance Management Revolution
Peter Cappelli and Anna Tavis. 10/2016. “The Performance Management Revolution.” Harvard Business Review. Publisher's VersionAbstract

When Brian Jensen told his audience of HR executives that Colorcon wasn’t bothering with annual reviews anymore, they were appalled. This was in 2002, during his tenure as the drugmaker’s head of global human resources. In his presentation at the Wharton School, Jensen explained that Colorcon had found a more effective way of reinforcing desired behaviors and managing performance: Supervisors were giving people instant feedback, tying it to individuals’ own goals, and handing out small weekly bonuses to employees they saw doing good things.

Back then the idea of abandoning the traditional appraisal process—and all that followed from it—seemed heretical. But now, by some estimates, more than one-third of U.S. companies are doing just that. From Silicon Valley to New York, and in offices across the world, firms are replacing annual reviews with frequent, informal check-ins between managers and employees.

How We Got Here

Historical and economic context has played a large role in the evolution of performance management over the decades. When human capital was plentiful, the focus was on which people to let go, which to keep, and which to reward—and for those purposes, traditional appraisals (with their emphasis on individual accountability) worked pretty well. But when talent was in shorter supply, as it is now, developing people became a greater concern—and organizations had to find new ways of meeting that need.

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Demystifying People Analytics – Part 4: Examples of People Analytics Projects
2/14/2017. “Demystifying People Analytics – Part 4: Examples of People Analytics Projects”. MoreAbstract

Previously in the ‘Demystifying People Analytics’ series I’ve written about where the team should sit (Part I), the skills and capabilities required to do people analytics (Part II) and the vital role of storytelling (Part III).

This time I’m going to provide examples of people analytics projects companies have undertaken to help drive both business and employee outcomes.

The five example projects outlined are spread across the employee lifecycle (workforce planning, talent acquisition, engagement, retention and compliance). Whilst the projects themselves are different, what they share in common is that they were all undertaken to help solve business challenges that were high priority for the organisations concerned.

Two examples (Cisco and Shell) were presented at HR Tech World in Paris last October. I am proud to once again be moderating the Smart Data breakout at the forthcoming HR Tech World in London on 21-22 March, and would urge all those interested or involved in people analytics to attend. Presenters from the likes of Adidas, ING, EY, Merck and Quintiles will be outlining the people analytics journeys at their respective companies.

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