While COVID-19 has brought about fundamental changes to the workplace, multiple mega-trends were already in play prior to COVID-19. The pandemic has only amplified these trends. With changing business priorities and technological disruption, organisations need to re-define what performance is, what does 'good' look like, and how can jobs be re-designed. The question is not how we can better measure performance but what performance do we expect given the new realities.

From a workforce perspective, we could look at these trends from two key areas: talent demand and talent supply.

Talent demand - Businesses have been thrust into unprecedented times with great uncertainty – consumption patterns are rapidly evolving, and competition is increasingly coming from non-traditional quarters. Successful start-ups are also redefining the traditional operating model of needing to own assets. All these will impact the type of talent needed and the contracting relationships organisations will have with their workforce as they consider the trade-offs and the right bets to make, with their finite resources.

Talent supply - With so much uncertainty and job losses over the last year, many will want job security, and just as many will consider alternative income options. We will also see a significant swath of the workforce being dislocated as an outcome of technology advancement and changes in investment and consumption patterns. Then there will be some who are seeking purpose and want that alignment in the jobs they do and the organisations they join.

When you put these two perspectives together, the social contract between businesses and the workforce will evolve and not least because of the increasing rhetoric on corporations’ roles in societies.

Organisations need to re-define what is performance, what does “good” look like now, and how jobs can be re-designed, instead of trying to find ways to measure performance defined pre-Covid. Click To Tweet

Most of the jobs we have today came from a time when businesses are steadier, and work was done in the office. There is a lot of emphasis on what you do (activities and processes) versus why you do what you do (purpose and outcome). As such, during the pandemic where most employees must work from home, a lot of organisations wondered how they can measure productivity now that they cannot physically see their staff being at work.

With changing business priorities and technological disruption, organisations need to re-define what is performance, what does “good” look like now, and how jobs can be re-designed, instead of trying to find ways to measure performance defined pre-Covid.

Obviously, the role of the people manager will be ever more crucial. Often, organisations have focused a lot more on leaders and managers’ success in financial achievements and technical expertise – this is no longer sustainable in a world where talent is the new currency.

Time is a finite resource and time to market is critical in capturing new markets – leaders need to be ruthlessly efficient and effective in delivering short-term outcomes and long-term priorities Click To Tweet

Top imperatives for leaders to address the enormous, short and long-term aspirations in the new reality.

As organisations try to navigate new realities and balance short and long term needs, it would be like a marathon of sprints. Organisations’ decision-making process needs to be significantly shortened and feedback from customers’ needs to be proactively and continuously sourced. Elon Musk recently advised CEOs to stop wasting time on meetings and PowerPoints and to spend more time on product innovation. Time is a finite resource and time to market is critical in capturing new markets – leaders need to be ruthlessly efficient and effective in delivering short-term outcomes and long-term priorities.

With increasing public scrutiny on corporate citizenship, leaders will also need to be effective in managing different stakeholders’ expectations and recognise that financial performance is no longer the be-all-and-end-all.

At the crux of it, it is about picking and focusing on a few key things that will maximise the greatest outcomes. Click To Tweet

Prioritising initiatives and efforts going forward.

Setting a compelling vision and charting a clear path post-COVID-19 will be important in rallying the “virtual” troops – employees need to know they are in “good hands” and trust the leadership to take them through this trying period.

In a recent study by Korn Ferry, organisations are saying that they will need to do better at prioritising initiatives and efforts going forward. In “normal times”, driving transformation is already a challenge, and the circumstances we are in today will make this goal even more difficult to accomplish. At the crux of it, it is about picking and focusing on a few key things that will maximise the greatest outcomes.

The above is an excerpt of the full interview published by People Matters Global on 23 February 2021. Read more here: https://www.peoplemattersglobal.com/article/performance-management/organizations-should-focus-on-performance-they-expect-in-the-current-reality-korn-ferrys-mary-chua-28549

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About the contributor

Mary Chua, Senior Client Partner and Rewards & Benefits Practice Leader for APAC, Korn Ferry, based out of the firm’s Kuala Lumpur office. She has over 20 years of consulting and corporate experience in APAC and Europe. Mary specialised in M&A and total rewards and has extensive experience delivering large scale organisational and total reward transformation programs for both GLCs and multinationals in the region. She has experience in multiple industries including Banking, Insurance, Telecommunications, and Diversified Conglomerates.

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