CASE STUDY Interview with Anila DeHart, Deloitte:
Anila DeHart is a Priority Leader in Global Talentfocusing on the Deloitte Global Performance Experience, Cognitive Insights and Knowledge Curation. Deloitte have been leading the way in rethinking performance management and have rolled out a transformational approach to more than 200,000 practitioners worldwide. In March 2018, I interviewed Anila to learn more aboutthe journey travelled so far. What were the key drivers that led to a shift in the approach to managing performance at Deloitte? There’s never been a better time to rethink talent processes than now. A number of external and internal drivers and research helped build the case for change and inform the new approach. A couple of areas to highlight: Talent trends and research The expectations of talent have changed dramatically. Today’s and future talent expect more frequent honest feedback, opportunities to leverage strengths, greater clarity in how to meet professional and personal goals, and more opportunities to learn and grow. However, the traditional end-of-year appraisal, designed in the 1970s, is not designed to meet these expectations and clearly isn’t effective anymore. In 2015, the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends research showed that 82 per cent of companies reported that performance evaluations ‘were not worth the time’ (Deloitte, 2015). In addition, long-term research by Gallup studied 1.4 million individuals in high-performing teams across 192 organizations and highlighted the importance of a strengths-based performance and a development approach to increase engagement and performance (Buckingham and Coffman, 1999). Internal factors Within our organization, employee, business leader and talent feedback evidenced that the old process, including ratings, were demotivating our talent and didn’t drive improvement in performance. Further evidence of the need for change came from a study with more than 60 high-performing Deloitte teams, comparing them to a baseline that included approximately 2,000 employees, which highlighted that key enablers of highperforming teams were: strengths-based development, frequent feedback and clarity about expectations. What have been the key changes made? We responded by fundamentally rethinking how we do performance. This started with broadening the objectives of the performance approach. We expanded the goal from ‘recognize’ performance (annual activities that allow intelligent compensation, promotion and lowperformer management decisions) to also include ‘seeing’ and ‘fuelling’ performance. Through focus on ‘seeing’ performance, we aim to generate rich and ongoing data that gives the business leaders a more complete view into the performance of their teams to inform performance improvement, redeployment and upskilling decisions. On the other hand, ‘fuelling’ performance drives a shiftfrom activities targeted to performance management and process to activities thatfocus on ongoing and balanced feedback. We enabled these objectives through an agile and user-friendly design, which includes a number of complimentary components. Two key components of the new design are: Check-ins: We introduced frequent, future-focused conversations aboutthe work. Here, team members and team leaders meet one to one to explore real-time feedback and expectations for the near-term work. It’s how they align on priorities for what’s coming next, and they do that with a strengths lens. They discuss how the individual will deliver on these priorities given their unique skills and strengths, and how the team leader will create opportunities for them to do that. We called them frequent, but we didn’t mandate a frequency. We leftthis up to business leaders to communicate as they saw fit. Today, the majority of our people are doing them either weekly or biweekly. We also didn’t require anyone to document anything going into or coming out of a checkin. We didn’t want anything to stand in the way of the conversation. We stressed thatthe logistics of check-ins are not as important as making them a habit. The tone, nature and content of a check-in should evolve over time and reflectthe needs of each individual, project and project phase. Our people who were used to heavy documentations once or twice per year were now expected to shift thattime to where the work—the performance—was happening in real time. Check-ins are now part of how our people gettheir work done. Performance snapshots: Moving away from ratings didn’t mean we’d stop capturing performance data. Performance snapshots are one of several ways we now capture data and are a vehicle for the team leader to capture his or her assessment about each team member’s performance, at a momentin time. Snapshots are timely, completed atthe end of a project, phase or atleast quarterly, allowing team leaders to capture their judgement of performance as close as possible to when it occurs. By the end of the year, there are numerous snapshots completed for each person, and coupled with other data such as metrics, training received, etc, they provide a rounded view of our people’s performance. Snapshots are research-based. Rather than ask leaders to rate the skills of others, we’ve crafted questions that ask them to rate their own intended future actions. This approach counteracts the idiosyncratic rater effect, which research has shown distorts ratings because the main variable is the evaluator. Leaders in the new system make decisions based on whatthey know about a team member’s performance instead of whatthey think of the person. Snapshots are easy. Our performance snapshots use four questions, answered on a Likert-type scale, so no more paragraphs to write! The snapshots can even be completed on smartphones to make these as simple as possible for our on-the-go workforce, to enable an ongoing flow of data throughoutthe year. I’ve only covered two features here, but our approach also includes: Scatterplots, which represent an aggregate view of performance snapshot data and other metrics and are made available to team members on a regular basis to enable transparency and prompt more focused feedback discussions. Team pulse surveys, which provide team leaders with insights about the engagement of their teams to drive team conversations around how to increase it. Career coach who helps employees discover their strengths, find more ways to leverage them, explore performance trends and develop their careers. Talent reviews in which leaders discuss development needs of selecttalent segments. Quarterly business reviews, which are analytics-driven leader reviews of the ‘health’ of their teams to inform talent actions and decisions. What have been the challenges involved with this shift in approach? Embedding the new behaviours requires change management and doesn’t happen overnight. Behaviours (such as shying away from honestfeedback and hiding behind documentation and ratings) take time to change and we needed to ensure the change continues to be a priority even after deployment. While reward and promotion remain local processes, the talent teams in each of the countries needed to ensure a seamless link of the performance outputs with the local year-end processes. This required additional local HR resource capacity to design, socialize and communicate the link. Developing and deploying globally a home-grown tool and analytics solution required significantinvestment and governance – we would have preferred to leverage an ‘off the shelf’ solution, butthe available tools didn’t meetthe requirements of our new approach atthe time of deployment. What have been the key learnings so far? An iterative approach helps with adoption and enhancements – we’ve pursued a measured testing and implementation approach, rather than a big bang. Benefits increase with more time on the experience; we learn and adaptthe more we embed these changes. Itis therefore really importantto track progress and also communicate the benefits and success stories to increase confidence in and supportfor the changes made. So what’s next? Our approach has evolved over the initial pilots and also during the last two years of deploying the approach to 80 per cent of our global population, and it will likely continue to evolve as we expand and learn. Next up, we will dial up our focus on optimization and embedding the change. This phase puts a focus on creating stronger behaviours and a strengths mindset and continuing to develop the team leader and coach skills and insights to fuel performance and engagement. This next phase also includes continued innovation to the experience and enabling tools, particularly around leveraging analytics and cognitive insights to drive the right behaviours. Any final words of advice for organizations shifting their focus away from the annual appraisal? Because the old approach is likely to be so rooted in processes and entrenched behaviours, expect resistance atthe start of the journey.
Prepare for this and consider strategies to gain acceptance and support. To have any real chance of success, the change needs to be strongly sponsored by your business leaders and linked to the overall culture change.