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VOL XII / ISSUE 2 / FEBRUARY 2021

S H I F T I N G P A R A D I G M S i n S H I F T I N G P E R F O R M A N C E P A R A TDI INGGM S i n S H I F M A N A G E M E N T P E RR FA OD RI G MM A SN Ci En P A MINTERVIEW A RN F AOGR EMMAEspecial N INTERVIEW TE BIG P E N C William J.T. Strahan Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks M A N A G E M E N T EVP, Human Resources, Comcast Cable

Behavioral Scientist and Professor of Management and Organizations at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan

The Worl d Of W or k H as C han ged, So M u st The Wo rl d Of W or k The Way We M a n a g e H as Chan ged, So M u st E m pThe loyee Perfor a nor ce Worl d OfmW k

The Way We M a n a g e An re So R e sM uu l tst s. H as dCMeasu han ged, E m p l oyee Perfor m a n c e The Way We M a n a g e An d M easu re column R e s u l t s. special E m p loyee Perfor m a n c e Rob Rosenberg Global Head of HR,

An d MeasuDHL re Supply R e s uChain l t s.


FFrroom m tth h e E d i t o r ’’ss DDeesskk 2

What’s your new yardstick to measure performance?

E

veryone with a job is measured and the score very much rides on the yardstick the organization uses. With the world of work changing amid the pandemic, squaring off a yardstick that is credible, accurate, and consistent for different types of workers is crucial because not everyone is contributing the same way. A lot of the jobs today are “designed” to be based in the office, focused on processes and activities, and thus companies struggle to gauge productivity when work is delivered in a different setting. There are employees who are struggling to perform remotely and there are others who are wading

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the extra mile to deliver what their role demands making it imperative for organizations to update and adapt their policies around talent acquisition, performance management, learning and development, compensation, rewards, etc. to meet the demands of their new workforce dynamics. However, there are new and complex challenges the disruption of 2020 has brought in to manage performance, which necessitates a more flexible ongoing approach to meet organizational and individual needs. The new business environment demands to create and maintain a performance management culture that is flexible, continuous, and scalable; one that ensures the right performance measures and methods of evaluation are being employed to help individuals grow while doing meaningful work. The legacy metrics of performance management were not apt even before the pandemic and COVID-19 crisis has introduced many unfamiliar variables. Assessing the realities of employees’ outputs in the current decentralized work-from-anywhere scenario seems really arduous. Employees are stressed, working in isolation, and trying to achieve more with less. This makes the case for a new framework to ensure performance is being evaluated fairly and equitably. Organizations are actively rethinking their measures of "productivity" and "performance" in light of COVID-19 and refining their perfor-

mance assessment practices including embracing more agile goal setting, more realtime assessments and checking in on employees to create a healthy nurturing employee experience proven to improve business outcomes. One upside of a remote team is that you can only measure outcomes rather than processes. This necessitates an open-minded, empowering leadership style. Plus, soft skills have come to the fore and are, by nature, intrinsically harder to measure, as they are more subjective. Measuring performance is no longer a simple equation of tracking outputs and inputs. Rather, the new method of performance measurement requires shifting the focus to defining and generating work outcomes. In this system, it becomes less about the worker type – remote, hybrid, or onsite – and more about understanding the impact of each individual role. Organizations are also moving to more data-driven approaches to assess performance by evaluating multiple dimensions of performance, including contributions beyond expectations. With changing business priorities and technological disruption, organizations are also redefining what is performance, what “good” looks like, and how jobs can be redesigned. The question is not how we can better measure performance but what performance do we expect given the new realities. It is a long way to go in being more effective


is the Global Head of Human Resources, DHL Supply Chain, an entity of the DPDHL group with 200,000 colleagues employed in 2000 sites spanning 60 countries. People Matters BeNext, our next generation HR platform for the future which aims to accelerate HR’s reinvention as a vital business function, launches new courses in March to equip you with skills to stay resilient in the fast-changing world. If you want to up your skills and knowledge on designing and executing performance management systems for remote teams, do join our course “Virtual Performance Management” and learn from our experts on how to do so. To enroll, visit https://tinyurl.com/peoplematters. The People Matters L&D SEA Conference 2021 is also coming to your screens on 4th March 2021. This year’s theme "Rev-Up Growth’’ will inspire the community to wrestle with one big question: How do we Rev-Up Growth through capability, through change interventions, and through culture in a time of uncertainty, chaos, and disruption? As always, we would be happy to hear your views, comments, and suggestions regarding our stories.

THE COVER STORY (BEHIND THE SCENE)

I want different shapes!

I didn’t mean letters, I meant shapes.

I like the shapes but I can’t read the letters.

From the Editor’s Desk

Balance the letters and the shapes.

PHEW! VOL XII / ISSUE 2 / FEBRUARY 2021

at measuring performance and managing productivity. At a time like this, recalibrating the productivity and performance yardstick is easier said than done. Can organizations have a unified system with the same metrics for remote, hybrid, floating, and other types of workers? What should be the key components of the new framework of continuous assessment at a time when everyone is talking about collaboration, innovation, business impact, client success, and new skills? How should you define and measure productivity amid changing business priorities? Our cover story throws light on the new paradigms of performance and productivity management and attempts to answer those questions. For the Big Interview, we have William J.T. Strahan, Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Comcast Cable, who shares insights on trends that will have significant impacts on businesses globally, the future of remote work, and how organizations are shifting the needle on productivity management amid this uncertainty. In a Special Interview with People Matters, Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, Behavioral Scientist and Professor of Management and Organizations at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan shares, why there is a need to nurture an organizational culture remotely, more than ever. We also have a special column by Rob Rosenberg, who

Happy Reading! Esther Martinez Hernandez Editor-in-Chief follow

M > @Ester_Matters F > estermartinez > ester.martinez@peoplematters.in

S H I F T I N G P A R A D I G M S i n S H I F T I N G P E R F O R M A N C E P M S i n S A HA R INFAATDGI INEGG M M E N T P E RR FA OD RI G MM A SN Ci En P A M BIG P INTERVIEW EA RN F AOGR EMMAEspecial NN INTERVIEW CT E William J.T. Strahan

Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks

M A N A G E M E N T

EVP, Human Resources, Comcast Cable

Behavioral Scientist and Professor of Management and Organizations at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan

Th e Wor ld Of Wor k H as C h an ge d , So Mu s t Th e Wor ld Of Wor k Th e Way We Man age H as C h an ge d , So Mu s t Employe Peld r for ce Th e e Wor Ofman Wor k Th e Way We Man age n dCMe u rde, So Re sMu u ltsst. HAas h anas ge Employe e Pe r for man c e Th e Way We Man age A n d Me as u r e column Re s u lt s . special Employe e Pe r for man c e Rob Rosenberg Global Head of HR,

A n d Me as uDHL r e Supply Re s uChain lt s .

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contents

FEBRUARY 2021 volu m e xii issue 2

expert views

48

Jonathan Pearce, Consulting Principal at Deloitte

53

Jessica Mitchell, Director, HR Business Partner at GitLab

58

Dr. Bob Aubrey, Managing Director of Bob Aubrey Associates and Founder of the ASEAN Human Development Organization (AHDO)

61

Fahad Naeem, Head of Operations, Randstad Malaysia

66

Mark Bilton, Managing Director of Thought Patrol

68

Mary Chua, Senior Client Partner, APAC Rewards & Benefits Practice Leader, Korn Ferry

72

Clinton Wingrove, Director of www.WantToBeGreatManager.com and www.ClintonHR.com

cover story

C O N TE N TS

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24

the big Interview

special Interview

Remote work will continue but not evenly

Technology is simple, but culture is hard Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks,

William J.T. Strahan,

Behavioral Scientist and Professor of Management and Organizations at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan By Yasmin Taj

Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Comcast Cable By Mastufa Ahmed

Editor-in-Chief

Manager - research & Content

Esther Martinez Hernandez

Anushree Sharma

managing Editor

Assistant ManagerS - Content

Yasmin Taj

Bhavna Sarin | Neelanjana Mazumdar

Associate Editor - Print & Online

Design & Production

Mastufa Ahmed

Shinto Kallattu

Manager - design, photography, and production

Digital Head

Marta Martinez

General Manager, Sales

Rubi Taj rubi.taj@peoplematters.in +91 (124) 4148102

Manager - Content

Jerry Moses

Senior Features Writer

Shweta Modgil

Features Writer

Mint Kang

4

Prakash Shahi

Manager, Sales

Saloni Gulati saloni.gulati@peoplematters.in +91 (124) 4148102

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Manager, SUBSCRIPTION

Neha Yadav subscribe@peoplematters.in +91 (124) 4148101 Printed and Published by

Mahesh Kumar on behalf of People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd. Owned by

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This issue of People matters contains 100 pages including cover


19 SPECIAL COLUMN

How the pandemic forced organizations to review expectations and targets By Rob Rosenberg,

Global Head of Human Resources, DHL Supply Chain 14 Ne w s F ea t ure

Measuring performance in a hybrid workplace

By Bhavna Sarin

The new approach to performance management

By Anushree Sharma

Learning (and unlearning) from COVID-19

By John Gaunt, Chief Human Resources Officer of Synechron 76 L ea d ers h i p

The dark side of the moon: Negative leadership behaviors to avoid

By Yogi Sriram, Advisor Group HR to CEO & MD, L&T

36 L ea d ers h i p

Rethinking leadership system

By Aviad Goz, Founder and Chairman of N.E.W.S. Coaching and Training, and the founder of Momentum Group, and a globally recognized thought leader in personal and organizational development 38 I n t ervie w

The future will be all about flexibility and balance

Duncan Hewett, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Asia Pacific, and Japan, VMware By Bhavna Sarin

89 S t a k e h ol d er Gover n a n c e

Shouldn’t companies manage stakeholder interests?

By Dr. M. Muneer, Co-founder of the non-profit Medici Institute and a stakeholder in the Silicon-Valley based deep-tech enterprise Rezonent Corp 92 Heal t h & Well - B ei n g

2020: The year the mask was removed

By Sandeep Nath, Certified Mindfulness Coach, Reiki Master and Qigong Guide

C O N TE N TS

29 Perfor m a n c e Ma n a g e m e n t

42 T h e Ne w Wor k p la c e

79 T h e roa d less t ravelle d

The future of trade unions

By Visty Banaji, Founder and CEO of Banner Global Consulting (BGC) 86 I n t ervie w

Focus on organizational goal achievement versus goal measurement

93 H R S t ra t e g y

The sound of skills

By Dr. Y Shekar, A researcher with over three decades of corporate experience in IT. He currently heads the Centre for Digital Enterprise (CDE) at IIM Udaipur

Akanksha Sane, Senior Director- India HR Delivery at PTC Software By Shweta Modgil

regulars

04 From the Editor’s Desk 06 Letters of the month 08 Quick Reads 13 Rapid-Fire 116 Knowledge + Networking 118 Blogosphere

Featured In this issue Akanksha Sane Azreena Che Omar Duncan Hewett Fahad Naeem Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks

Jessica Mitchell Jonathan Pearce Mark Bilton Mary Chua

CONTRIBUTORS to this issue Aviad Goz Dr. Bob Aubrey Clinton Wingrove John Gaunt Dr. M. Muneer Mimi Nicklin

Rob Rosenberg Sandeep Nath Dr. Y Shekar Visty Banaji Yogi Sriram

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Letters of the month

l e t tqeur isc okf r t heea m d os n t h

Top 10 workplace trends to look out for in 2021

I quite like where the workplace and culture are likely headed this year. Some much-needed change in outlook and approach to the overall employee experience. Nice to see a greater focus on digital workflows, flexible work schedules, wellness, diversity, and a decentralized workforce. While these segments aren’t absolutely new focus areas, the pandemic has surely fuelled greater attention to these aspects, which have been severely ignored for years, despite increased emphasis on crafting a delightful employee experience. 2020 didn’t just challenge survival but forced organizations to test and rewire mindsets and age-old practices that persisted despite questions around their relevance in the present times. Flexibility for one has always been looked upon as a benefit, an optional one at that, however, 2020 forced organizations to offer work from home to sustain and eventually, a handful realized the need and impact, and today remote working has experienced a paradigm shift from being a flexible perk to a globally accepted workplace norm. What now the workforce looks forward to is how soon other accompanying trends translate into reality. - Raunak Sapra

HR must argue for strategic salary hikes

Thank you for highlighting this obvious fact that seems to be ignored by a majority. The direct correlation between employee compensation, employee satisfaction, employee performance, and business performance is one that’s often misunderstood. And while a dip in business performance, especially an extreme one like that of 2020, resulted in dips in employee compensation, the reverse is seldom paid attention to. By designing workplace and workforce strategy in a manner that ensures strong employee compensation, leading to greater employee satisfaction, the result is better employee performance, eventually leading to exponential business growth, especially when such employee performance is replicated throughout the organization and independent functions. While 2020 suffered a setback, there are sectors that witnessed exponential growth, such as technology and healthcare, with other sectors gradually picking pace. - R Pandey 6

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jANUARY 2021 issue

'Patriarchy in the region has not gone away'

Sadly not surprised. Several global leaders and researchers have been cautioning against the rising inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic, yet the degree of urgency to counter the consequences of the COVID outbreak on inclusion remains non-existent. Inclusion is becoming more of talk and less about action. We have seen several employers jump on the diversity bandwagon in the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter movement, much like the advocacy around LGBTQ+ inclusion around Pride Month. So, are we awaiting severe injustice and discrimination before we take sustainable change toward the advancement of women's rights and state of living and employment? Hasn’t that already been happening for decades now? - Varun tyagi


Interact with People Matters

CEO Agenda for 2021: The business of health

- Vania Manohar

“Culture fit” can sometimes be used to mask bias in hiring

A much-needed shift to cultureadd rather than culture fit. Culture-add sure embodies a truly inclusive concept that needs to be embedded across organizational cultures. The need for diverse perspectives is even more crucial today as organizations grapple with recovery and growth. COVID-19 has presented companies with the perfect opportunity to rewire outlook and strategy towards cognitive and cultural diversity. - Nitin Sethi

“It’s the time to challenge our limits, not limit our challenges”

Loved this synopsis - “The best way to outpace disruption is through workforce capability: more human-led but techenabled, intentionally diverse, purpose-driven, operationally nimble and built for speed.” Some bold and critical suggestions to shift the needle and lens of how leaders think, prioritize and make decisions. Clearly, well-being is emerging to be the focus area, and as the author says, “Leaders who overlook this critical workplace trend in 2021 will ultimately erode their workforce capability and lose out on the war for talent.” - Vania Manohar

What it means to create a connected workplace in 2021 and beyond

Absolutely agree with the author when he says we have only begun to scratch the surface of adapting to the new working landscape. The overnight shift for survival has now grown into a well-accepted global norm, demanding its own way of functioning and engaging. From smart tech to creative solutions to evolve culture for a hybrid workplace, a connected workplace in 2021 and times to come is sure going to be much more than engagement. It will be about collaboration, conflict, innovation, and growth beyond the confines of home, and overpowering the limitations imposed by distance. - Bhavana P Ajay

Duncan Neil Hewett @dhewett12 I recently spoke to @PeopleMatters2 about the tech trends that emerged during the pandemic and that we should expect to see continuing to evolve in 2021. ow.ly/ LSki50De8ze UN Women Myanmar @unwomenmyanmar In an interview with @PeopleMatters2, our regional director @NaciriMohammad reveals some startling statistics highlighting the post #COVID19 pandemic threat to women’s upliftment Terence Mauri @terencemauri How do leaders use trust and ethics as their North Star?Huge privilege to feature in @PeopleMatters2 peoplemattersglobal. com/article/c-suit…#thrive #leaders #trust #empathy #3dleader David Green @david_green_uk Great interview with @drtcp via @ PeopleMatters2 - Never underestimate the power of human adaptability ow.ly/3w1K50D2lfr #Culture #Leadership #HR

l e t tqeur isc okf r t heea m d os n t h

Interesting take on the rising responsibility of leaders to bring about monumental social change. While corporate social responsibility kept the focus on uplifting the underprivileged sections of the society all these years, post the pandemic, the responsibility has fallen upon the shoulders of business leaders to make decisions that impact the well-being and health of employees. This in turn has triggered a greater need to rethink the way work is done, workplace expectations, employee expectations - thereby encouraging employers to shift their focus from micromanaging employees and their hours to efficient task management and building accountability with flexibility.

People Matters values your feedback. Write to us with your suggestions and ideas at editorial@peoplematters.in

Emma Codd @emmajcodd Now, more than ever, organizations must make #diversity & #inclusion and #mental health a true priority. I shared my thoughts with @PeopleMatters2 on progressing towards a stigma-free inclusive everyday culture in #2021 and beyond. peoplemattersglobal.com/article/c-suit… Eric Shepherd @EricShepherd I love this article from @PeopleMatters2 that says mental health is the "outcome of several factors" one of which is the workplace. What is your business doing to make sure employee wellness and mental health are at the forefront? #HR #EmployeeWellness peoplematters.in/ article/wellne… follow

M > @PeopleMatters2

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Funding & Investment

Darwinbox raises funding from Salesforce to accelerate HR digitalization

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Darwinbox, one of Asia’s leading enterprise HR technology platforms, announces the closing of its 15MN USD funding round led by Salesforce Ventures with participation from existing investors, Sequoia and Lightspeed. The company has grown 300%+ since its last round of funding in 2019. The company shared that with the new funding, it plans to accel-

Hiring

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40% of Singapore companies looking to hire this year

Employee Engagement

Anxiety related to job changes has increased: WEF According to a World Economic Forum-Ipsos survey, stress, anxiety, and loneliness have increased among working people. More than half of working adults experienced anxiety relating to their job security and stress due to changes in their working patterns. Among those able to work from home, family pressures, finding a work-life balance, and feelings of loneliness and isolation were cited as increasing as the pandemic disrupted lives and interrupted long-established practices. 8

erate its expansion in Southeast Asia, onboard new partners, drive product innovation, and significantly grow its team in the region. Chaitanya Peddi, Co-founder and Product Head at Darwinbox, in an exclusive interaction with People Matters says, ''this funding really validates the product and the work we are doing in the HCM space. We now want to scale up on the journey.''

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Hiring in Singapore is projected to shoot up by 40 percent in 2021, according to the latest talent trends report by Michael Page. Most of the activity will come from the technology and telecoms sector, consistent with the general trend around the Asia Pacific that started last year as companies rushed to digitalize, and with the report's other finding that 68 percent of companies in the region plan to increase investment in technology and digital tools.

Technology

Google workers form the company's firstever union

Hundreds of employees at Google and its parent, Alphabet, have launched a union, a rare step for the tech industry that also represents the biggest and most organized challenge yet to the company's executive leadership. Announced Monday morning, the Alphabet Workers' Union will be run by employees and open both to full-time workers and contractors at the tech giant. "This is historic," said Dylan Baker, a Google software engineer, in a release.


HR Technology

German startup Personio raises $125 MN

The German startup that targets small- and medium-sized businesses (10-2,000 employees) with an all-in-one HR platform covering recruiting and onboarding, payroll, absence tracking, and other major HR functions — has picked up $125 Mn in funding at

a $1.7 Bn post-money valuation. The Series D is being co-led by Index Ventures and Meritech, with previous backers Accel, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Northzone, Global Founders Capital, and Picus all participating. The $1.7 Bn valuations is a big jump on the company’s $500 Mn valuations a year ago, and it comes after a year where the startup has doubled its revenues and was not on the hunt to raise, with much of its previous fundraising still in the bank.

Singapore based intelligent recruitment platform Snaphunt has raised US$1 Mn in a funding round from venture capital firm Beenext. The financing round gives the tech firm a post-money valuation of over US$7.2 Mn as per data from VentureCap Insights. The HR Tech startup will use the proceeds to expand the company’s footprint in Asia and strengthen its offering to employers who are looking to increase their remote and onsite teams across the region, Snaphunt’s Founder and CEO Tulika Tripathi told Tech in Asia.

Employee Engagement

Mondelez Malaysia pledges for companywide flexible working

Mondelez International has pledged for company-wide flexible working across its worldwide operations, including Malaysia. Through its Flexible Working Pledge, the company is empowering employees to work in a way that suits their overall life, while finding a balance between both professional and personal needs. The response for Mondelez International was to not only adapt to the “new normal” but to commit to a way of working which would support its people’s productivity today and in the future.

2020 brought an overall contraction to the Singapore economy, according to advance estimates released on January 4 by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. GDP in every quarter was lower than in 2019, with the largest drop in Q2—when the city-state went into lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19 and shut down all non-essential businesses. Overall, the Singapore economy shrank by 5.8 percent as compared to 2019, more or less in line with predictions last year. The hardest-hit sectors were construction, which could not operate at all as worksites across the island were shut down; accommodation and F&B, which completely lost tourist income when the borders were closed to all short-term visitors in March; and wholesale and retail trade, transportation, and storage, which suffered from the general slump in the global economy. These three sectors remained significantly in the red at the end of 2020. FEBRUARY 2021 |

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Singaporean HR tech firm Snaphunt raises $1 Mn from Beenext

Singapore's economy shrank by 5.8 percent last year

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HR Technology

economy

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newsmaker of the month

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The long road to business as usual

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he COVID-19 vaccine is finally here. Multiple vaccines to tackle COVID19 were approved for emergency use in the last two months. Pfizer, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Bharat Biotech are among the companies that are leading the pack on approved vaccines. There’s still a long road ahead for businesses to resume ‘’normal work’’ operations. New realities and workplace expectations will dominate the headspace of HR Heads and business leaders as employees return to work. The pandemic showed that working remotely won’t reduce workplace productivity, but it will cause burnout – especially when blurring work-life priorities aren’t supported by a conducive workplace environment.

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Over the last few months, many companies already planned their return to work strategy and instituted a number of steps – from opening up partial work operations, creating a hybrid model of work, creating safety protocols, rethinking workflows to leveraging technology. All of this is likely to continue throughout this year. In fact, companies are moving a step further across the world. They are preparing to vaccinate employees or reimburse those who do. In the Philippines, 200 companies inked a tripartite deal with the government and British company AstraZeneca to supply vaccines to their employees. In India, the Hindustan Times reports that Steel producer Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, multinational conglomerate company Mahin-

dra Group and consumer goods giant ITC Ltd have begun initial checks on vaccines being available to buy. However, these are still early days. Hegeler Solomon, People & Organizations Director, Mars Wrigley India in a conversation with People Matters said that most companies may not mirror the same return to work strategy. “Relevance matters: Industry, nature of work, client base, competition, and the culture of your organization are some important elements. And in the absence of credible data (to take decisions on returning to work), there’s a need to ‘launch and learn’ - this approach will help us fail and learn fast!” For the first time since the pandemic began, there’s hope for a normal world – even when new mutations of the COVID19 virus threaten or slow down progress. The World Health Organization’s Director-General Tedros noted that “for too long, the world operated on a cycle of panic and neglect… We throw money at an outbreak, and when it's over, we forget about it and do nothing to prevent the next one. This is dangerously short-sighted and frankly difficult to understand.” Here’s hoping that business and HR leaders everywhere remember important lessons on the relevance of the workplace environment, the value of employee experience, the enabling role of technology, and the need for human connection.


Intel appoints Pat Gelsinger as new CEO Intel has appointed 40-year technology industry leader Pat Gelsinger as its new Chief Executive Officer, effective Feb. 15, 2021. Gelsinger will also join the Intel board of directors upon assuming the role. He will succeed Bob Swan, who will remain CEO until Feb. 15. Most recently, Gelsinger served as the CEO of VMware since 2012, where he significantly transformed the company into a recognized global leader in cloud infrastructure, enterprise mobility, and cybersecurity, almost tripling the company’s annual revenues.

Capgemini appoints new Group Chief Operating Officer Capgemini announced the appointment of Olivier Sevillia as its Group Chief Operating Officer,

ICICI's Mrinal Singh to join InCred AMC as CIO & CEO InCred Asset Management, the fund management arm of the InCred group, has announced the appointment of Mrinal Singh as its CIO & CEO. Mrinal was presently the Deputy CIO at ICICI Prudential AMC. He has been with ICICI Prudential for more than 12 years and helped set up its research processes, product strategy, as well as business & talent development during his journey.

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Aviva India appoints Amit Malik as CEO & Managing Director Aviva India announced the appointment of Amit Malik as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director with effect from 1st Jan 2021. Prior to this, Amit worked as the Chief People, Operations, and Customer Services Officer with Aviva India and was part of the Aviva India Leadership Team. In his new role, Amit will be responsible for bringing Aviva India’s strategy alive and strengthening the company’s position as the Most Trusted Private Life Insurer in India.

Bharti Airtel's Harmeen Mehta joins BT as Chief Digital & Innovation Officer BT has announced the creation of a new technology unit – Digital – to lead its digital innovation agenda and has hired Harmeen Mehta to lead the unit. The new unit will focus on the development and rapid delivery of innovative products, platforms, and services in key areas such as healthcare and data. Mehta will begin her stint as the Chief Digital and Innovation Officer on March 1, reporting directly to Chief Executive Philip Jansen and as a member of the Executive Committee. She will work closely with Philip, the Board, the Chief Technology Officer, and BT’s customer-facing units to drive the company’s digital transformation

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Qualcomm appoints Cristiano Amon as CEO Qualcomm has selected Cristiano Amon to succeed Steve Mollenkopf as CEO, effective June 30, 2021. Mollenkopf informed the Board of his decision to retire as CEO following 26 years with the Company. Amon, who has worked at Qualcomm since 1995, is currently President of the Company. Mollenkopf will continue his employment with the Company as a strategic advisor for a period of time. Mollenkopf, 52, became CEO in March of 2014. He began his career as an engineer and, for nearly three decades, has helped define and lead Qualcomm’s strategy and technology roadmap.

effective January 1, 2021. In this role, Olivier is responsible for the Group’s strategic business units and sales, with a focus on applying the Group’s deep and broad industry expertise to be a strategic business partner to its clients. Up until December 2020, Olivier had been CEO of Capgemini’s Europe Strategic Business Unit since July 2018. Before this, from 2011, Olivier led the Application Services Continental Europe Strategic Business Unit.

upGrad appoints ex-Disney chief Zubin Gandevia as CEO, APAC upGrad, the online higher education company, has signaled its commitment to growing its presence across Asia Pacific, with the appointment of Zubin Gandevia as CEO for the region. Zubin most recently served as President, Asia Pacific, and Middle East, at FOX Networks Group Asia (part of the Walt Disney Co.). He is credited with FEBRUARY 2021 |

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FOX’s first-mover advantage in the region and was responsible for the launch of high-definition (HD), on-demand entertainment, and the direct-toconsumer FOX+ app since superseded by Disney+.

Adecco Group India names new Chairman and MD The Adecco Group, the HR solutions company, announced the appointment of Vidya Sagar Gannamani as the new Chairman and Managing Director for Adecco India. In his new role, Vidya will be responsible for leading the workforce solutions business for India with an increased focus towards cross-collaboration to enable growth and to deliver on Adecco’s transformational priorities. Vidya specializes in driving cultural, organizational, and business transformations across verticals. He has extensive experience in a variety of roles spanning Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands. IBM appoints Martin Schroeter as CEO of independent firm NewCo IBM announced the appointment of Martin Schroeter as Chief Executive Officer of the independent company that will be created following the separation of IBM's Managed Infrastructure Services business ("NewCo"), effective January 15. NewCo will focus on the management and modernization of IT infrastructure in every industry around the world. The previously announced separation is expected to occur by the end of 2021. Schroeter served as IBM's Senior Vice President, Global Markets, where he was responsible for IBM's global sales, client relationships and satisfaction, and worldwide geographic operations, before leaving IBM in June 2020. Sony Music Entertainment appoints Andrew Davis as the new CHRO Sony Music Entertainment (SME) announced the appointment of Andrew Davis to the role of Executive Vice President and Global Chief Human Resources Officer. Beginning in early January 2021 and based in New York, Davis will report to

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Rob Stringer, Chairman, Sony Music Group, and Kevin Kelleher, Chief Operating Officer, Sony Music Entertainment. With experience leading teams at Fortune 500 companies, Davis will be charged with leading SME’s global human resources functions including talent acquisition, talent management, compensation, and benefits, as well as organizational development across the Company’s global operations.

KPMG in India appoints Sunit Sinha as Partner and Head of People, Performance and Culture KPMG in India has appointed Sunit Sinha as Partner and Head of People, Performance, and Culture (PPC) of the firm. He will be based out of Gurugram. In this role, Sunit will lead KPMG in India’s human resources function which comprises talent management and strategy, driving the people culture and professional development to further KPMG in India’s operations and growth. He has over 23 years of experience and comes with strong expertise in organizational strategy and transformation, human capital strategy and leadership development, organization design, post-merger integration, culture transformation, and HR transformation in a digital world. Yes Bank appoints Anurag Adlakha as the new CHRO Yes Bank has announced two senior appointments in the company. The bank has appointed Anurag Adlakha as the new CHRO and Niranjan Banodka as the new CFO. Anurag Adlakha, the current Group CFO of the Bank will be taking the responsibility of the new Chief Human Resources Officer in place of Deodutta Kurane, who would be retiring from the service of the Bank. Ogilvy appoints Jag Dhanji as new Global Chief People Officer New York City-based advertising, marketing communications, and PR company Ogilvy have announced the appointment of Jag Dhanji as their new Global Chief People Officer. Dhanji joined Ogilvy in 2017 as Chief Talent Officer for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Dhanji takes over for Brian Fetherstonhaugh, who is reportedly retiring but will be working with WPP Group in an advisory role.


Rapid-Fire

ten Questions

interview

Azreena Che Omar

Chief Human Resources Officer, Sun Life Malaysia By Neelanjana Mazumdar

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One thing that makes you passionate about HR?

One tech/innovation that will transform HR?

The human connection. HR provides practitioners the platform and ability to touch and change people’s lives in general

Major technology transformation through HR 4.0 will be a significant disruptor that will automate most HR processes, resulting in more efficient and lean HR teams

What was the turning point of your life as an HR professional? Witnessing how something simple can really impact a person’s life, for example, the extra coverage that we may provide to an employee concerning his/her illness

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3 key talent priorities for Sun Life Malaysia, currently? Developing talents and also placing the appropriate resources in accordance to our key initiatives and requirements to meet our long-term strategic goals

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What's your learning mantra?

Never stop learning! Learn when you don’t know and relearn when you already know as you might just learn something new along the way

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Your advice for aspiring HR professionals?

Do not step on people’s toes just to get to where you want to be. Your time will come

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One tech/innovation that will transform HR?

Major technology transformation through HR 4.0 will be a significant disruptor that will automate most HR processes, resulting in more efficient and lean HR teams

When people go low on you, you go high. Don’t stoop to their level as you’ll be no different from them if you do

r a p i d - f i r e

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What's your favorite holiday destination? One reason why? I make it a point to travel to Penang in Malaysia once or twice a year. There’s just something alluring and special about the Penang beaches and food

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If not HR, then what?

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One must-read book for CHROs and HR leaders The Power of WOW by The Employees of Zappos.com

I would have continued in Legal as I’m a lawyer by qualification. In fact, I was Sun Life Malaysia’s Head of Legal before I crossed over to HR 3 years ago FEBRUARY 2021 |

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Measuring performance in a hybrid workplace

As employees invest extra hours of work to help speed up the process of recovery, are employers reciprocating this sense of empathy and need toward employees? How are employers stepping up to empower employees and adjusting their approach to performance management in a hybrid workplace? By Bhavna Sarin

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fter months of navigating and adapting to ‘’the new normal’’, people today want to stop listening to the phrase ‘’new normal’’. Why? They say it has been used enough ever since COVID-19 struck. While we have spent enough time in the new normal to make the phrase redundant in itself, we are yet to experience the much-needed shift in workplace policies that validate the existence | FEBRUARY 2021

of COVID-19 and the consequential impact on people, business, and the ability to perform. Some say remote working has blurred the work and home boundaries, while some say that productivity in fact has increased, owing to the accompanying flexibility of working from home. But how flexible is remote working? It appears not as much, given the associated well-being costs of said enhanced productivity.

How can we navigate these overlapping boundaries? How can employers play a role in managing work and performance? As employees invest extra hours of work to help speed up the process of recovery, are employers reciprocating this sense of empathy and need towards employees? Shifting focus to business continuity was and to a great extent remains a priority, and employees have stepped up in this need of


the hour. How are employers stepping up to empower employees and adjusting their approach to performance management in an evolving hybrid workplace? Let’s find out.

The intent behind performance management

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mance, bucket employees into different performance ratings, which yes continue to exist with different terminologies, and decide who to promote and who to let go off. Is the intent behind performance management, transformational or transactional? Sure data on performance helps get clarity on how to reward employees who have gone above and beyond, and at the same time hold people accountable for their performance if it isn’t up to the expected and agreed-upon standards, and measuring performance is key there, but is that the sole purpose of performance management or is that only a part of it. Once there is clarity on that, only then can leaders identify the right strategy to measure performance, evolving what it truly encapsulates, and rethink how to measure, monitor, and assess performance.

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The disparity and inconsistency in measuring performance that existed preCOVID-19 has only amplified post-COVID, and in a majority of the cases the widening gap can be attributed to discrepancies in leadership styles and belief systems about what performance is and how it needs to be measured, followed by individual choices of adjusting or not adjusting these expectations in the face of the crisis and its resulting circumstances. In conversation with People Matters, Ashley Goodall, SVP Methods & Intelligence, Cisco suggested an interesting perspective to look at performance measurement, “The fundamental

currency of a performance management system should be frequent attention to the humans in our teams. We know that this is the most powerful thing to actually lift levels of performance over time. And the point of performance management, of course, is not to categorize performance as much as it is to enhance and increase it over time,” added Ashley. This perspective highlights an important differentiator between effective performance management and regressive performance management practice the ‘’why’’ of implementing performance management. Are we doing it to manage the performance of the workforce to identify strengths and areas of improvement, and equipping them with the needed tools to scale their performance, or are we doing it just as a routine exercise to categorize perfor-

The point of performance management, of course, is not to categorize performance as much as it is to enhance and increase it over time FEBRUARY 2021 |

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Managing performance in the post-COVID workplace

There have been innumerable conversations around the globe on measuring productivity and performance in a remote working setup. Every organization has its own goals that need to be met and every individual contributes to those goals in their unique way through the role they are playing. In the bigger picture of how the last few months have unfolded from a business perspective, the outbreak of coronavirus forced organizations to focus on survival and sustainability, replacing the focus on

The best way to measure what a team leader thinks of somebody on their team is not to have them attach a rating to that person, but to describe how they would invest in them exceeding targets set for the year. This led to the senior management having to explore alternatives to keep the ship afloat. In a nutshell, such exploration is bound to lead to new deliverables, new plan of action, rethinking strategy, reallocating roles and projects, and all that in an absolutely new workplace which is virtual, distant, and for many a first-hand experience of working from home. Given individuals are working from home, under

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pressing existing performance expectations and culture for many, it is critical to realize that not just new organizational requirements, but the disrupted personal lives of employees is also bound to have an impact on performance. This calls for the HR function to evolve from business partners to people partners, and perhaps upskill managers and leaders to cater to these aspects on the people front. There is no one-size-fitsall approach to performance management, and there is certainly no proven methodology to get it right in the existing circumstances.

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Yet, talent leaders everywhere are doing their bit to make the process as seamless and empathetic as possible with the focus on keeping communication lines open. One such talent leader is Raj Karunakaran, HR Head Cargill India. Sharing with People Matters how Cargill India is solving the post-COVID performance management puzzle, Karunakaran emphasized frequent and future-focused conversations on continu-

ous improvement and development as the pillars of a strong performance management process. Here is a four step approach by Cargill India to relook at performance management: • Simplified process, goals aligned to the changing business needs, and a new way of working protocols • Ongoing discussions between managers and employees, informal feedback, coaching, goal review, and adjustment during the crisis • Simplified and flexible goal setting with fewer, more dynamic goals aligned to business strategy and tailored to the dynamic business environment • Qualitative assessment of the employee achievements, contribution to business success, and development opportunities

Shifting the needle on performance assessment Several organizations today are caught in the maze of finding the right way out to address performance assessment. There are several elements to performance today, with a tradeoff of several responsibilities between the employer and employee, trust being a significant aspect of that. And while we have established that there is in fact no one-size-fits-all approach to performance management,


ing performance but also redefining organizational purpose, and that needs to be communicated to the larger workforce to align efforts and enhance performance. Adjust goals: The pandemic has led to revising focus areas for the business which trickles down to revised deliverables for employees. There is a need to clearly define these goals at the earliest to help employees plan their efforts accordingly, and ask for help where needed. Redefining performance and adjusting goals is only scratching the surface of a redesigned performance assessment strategy. To

ensure effective implementation, organizations must appoint culture advocates to both lead by example the revisited performance assessment mindset as well as reinforce abiding by the new guidelines to avoid any deviation or falling back into the old practices and notions. Culture and mindset are a precursor to performance. While the responsibility of performing work lies with the individual, that of providing an enabling culture rests with the leaders and managers. Mindset is an important aspect of change management. Given a more flexible and open approach FEBRUARY 2021 |

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To keep up the morale there is a need to explore non-monetary methods to reward employees and also identify avenues to reallocate funding to make employees feel cared for

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here are some guiding notes to help you structure your efforts in this segment: Redefine performance and purpose, keep it realistic: The working environment that is in play today is one that has never been experienced before and is certainly different from the working environment the workforce functioned in during pre-COVID times. An overnight shift to working from home vs working across a hybrid workplace requires different performance measurement parameters. Some employees might be working remotely, some might be in essential roles on the field, while others might have had to return to the office. In that context, maintaining the flexibility to enhance the performance of a distributed workforce becomes even more critical. Additionally, in the present day, we aren’t only redefin-

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to performance management might go against ageold assessment strategies, breaking through those mental roadblocks is among the basics that need to be checked. Non-monetary rewards and recognition: Rewards and recognition are a critical element of performance management. Employees today are already experiencing a financial setback, much like their employers. To keep up the morale there is a need to explore non-monetary methods to reward employees and also identify avenues to reallocate funding to make employees feel cared for. Align benefits programs to current employee needs: The existing circumstances also provide an opportunity for organizations to tap into revamping benefits more in tune with changing employee needs. Employee wellness is core to productivity: “I strongly feel that this is a time to show more empathy, be role-models and be declarative on employee well-being and work-life balance,” shared Raj Karunakaran, HR Head, Cargill India. Employee well-being is core to productivity and performance. This sentiment is echoed by organizations and visible in the increasing focus on employee wellness initiatives. In such times, it is all the more important to provide employ| FEBRUARY 2021

ees with resources to help them combat the threat to their well-being, physical, emotional as well as financial. Invest in technology: “It would be desirable for organizations to invest in a technology solution for effective management of performance if they don’t have any in place,” suggests Sushil Baveja, Executive Director HR, DCM Shriram Ltd. Building a performance management system from scratch

It would be desirable for organizations to invest in a technology solution for effective management of performance if they don’t have any in place would be an additional stressor at this point in time for leaders and managers, this is where technology comes in. These times are a great way to test the entire human-tech debate - the need for humans to invest their time in strategy and culture, and leverage technology for routine tasks that can be automated. As we strive to adapt people policies and the workplace to the circumstances before us, Ashley Goodall,

SVP Methods & Intelligence, Cisco, hits the nail on the head with his description on the best way to measure performance: “The best way to measure what a team leader thinks of somebody on their team is not to have them attach a rating to that person, but to describe how they would invest in them." He added, "And so, the performance management system of the future will have some way of understanding which investments we decided to make in people—who did we decide to move, who did we decide to promote, who did we decide to give a stretch assignment to—and ask which of those decisions we followed through on, and then use those as a gauge of what our team leaders actually think about their team member.” Measuring performance in a post-COVID workplace will have its own trials and errors as organizations undergo the journey of evolution in adapting to the virtual workplace with a distributed workforce. Performance in the current scenario will therefore need to be driven through a partnership between employers and employees, with each having to step up for the other and making this transition, while a struggle, but one that leads to a brighter future for work, workplace as well as the workforce.


Rob Rosenberg

How the pandemic forced organizations to review expectations and targets

The underlying tenets of performance management have remained the same. At its essence, it is about turning goals into actions, inspiring people, and providing purpose and direction

We’re (still) living in a changing world

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constant theme of HR management literature prior to 2020 was that the world of work was changing. Aging demographics in many markets, rapid advances in technology, a shift in generational attitudes toward work, and the ebbing tides of globalization were challenging HR organizations across all industries to adapt their strategies to recruit, manage, engage, develop and retain the best talent. After the year we’ve all just had, it’s safe to say that we’ve experienced both a crash course in what challenges change can bring when it arrives unexpectedly and a road test of how successful we had all been in preparing ourselves for it. Conventional approaches to all aspects of HR were turned upside down – many companies had to embrace remote working for large numbers of employees overnight, and, for those with essential frontline workers still out in the field or on the shop floor, the constantly evolving

protocols around social distancing, PPE and other hygiene and safety measures suddenly topped the agenda for every daily meeting. Depending on how their core businesses were impacted, HR departments had to quickly implement furloughs, re-deployments, or other measures to adapt to downturns and protect the overall business or to rapidly source and onboard new recruits, often remotely, to cope with a sudden surge of activity. They had to foster teamwork and collaboration using different formats and tools. They had to provide reassurance to an FEBRUARY 2021 |

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The pandemic has had a significant impact on performance management. From a shortterm perspective, it forced many organizations to, at the very least, review the expectations and targets they had in place for much of their workforce anxious workforce over what lay ahead in an uncertain environment. And they had to manage different types of stress and digital fatigue, continue to drive engagement, and to identify ways of measuring and boosting productivity with new remote working models. The pandemic has also had a significant impact on performance management. From a short-term perspective, it forced many organizations to, at the very least, review the expectations and targets they had in place for much of their workforce. They have also had to assess whether

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their incentives and bonuses were calibrated correctly in a challenging economic environment, which brought significant financial headwinds for most sectors. It threw training and development programs – particularly those with a strong faceto-face/in-person component – into disarray. And it changed the dynamic of even the day-to-day feedback and coaching process between managers and their team members. From a longer-term perspective, it accelerated certain trends that were already in play before COVID-19. It also shone a light on some new skills that are likely to be essential for future leaders.

Everything and nothing has changed As DHL’s most recent advertising campaign states, “everything and nothing has changed.” In some ways, the last year has sent shockwaves throughout the world that can’t help but alter some of our beliefs, perceptions, and ways of working. In many others, however, it has simply either reinforced some of the trends that were already being addressed by HR organizations or provided conditions in which companies can further evaluate and test how robust their systems and processes are in the face of change. The underlying tenets of performance management have remained the same. Companies want to track and incentivize employees for how they deliver (or exceed) against their core work activities, while also moni-


to overall company performance. This is a huge asset in establishing standardized KPIs across different functions and tracking individual performances. It has also helped to manage productivity and performance in the socially distanced and remote environment we saw in 2020. In addition, digitalization is changing the nature of skills that we look for within our business, making change management, analysis, and even just a curiosity for new technologies and applications increasingly important. This in turn means that we have to adjust both our recruitment and our internal talent

Remote working will play a bigger role in the working set-up of most companies than it did in the past. There will remain differences depending on the proportion of white-collar and blue-collar workers, but in cases where companies – or even particular workers – have identified a clear productivity gain from working from home, technology and digitalization will be an enabler of this trend more toward the “windshield” of development. In this context, three trends had already played a key role in shaping DHL Supply Chain’s approach to performance management: 1. Digitalization: The emergence of new technologies was already fundamentally transforming performance management. Thanks to advanced software and data analytics, HR now has an unparalleled ability to gather and analyze data across a broad range of metrics, and to correlate them

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toring and recognizing the qualities and skills that contribute to organizational success, to support professional development. At its essence, it is about turning goals into actions, inspiring people, and providing purpose and direction. How companies approach that has begun to evolve in recent years. Many have spent time assessing whether annual reviews are the right fit, how they can make the process more continuous, to what extent metrics and goals can and should be standardized, and, arguably most significantly, how the process can be tilted less toward the “rearview mirror” of performance and

development practices – as well as our performance management systems and metrics – to focus on these skillsets and help future proof our business and workforce. 2. Engagement: Engagement is one of the great “intangibles” in any business – challenging to measure but widely recognized as being one of the main factors in exceptional operating performance and higher customer satisfaction. While digitalization can help companies to better capture FEBRUARY 2021 |

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survey data and understand indicators of engagement, the actual driver of engagement is undoubtedly people. And in a business in which more than 85% of our 155,000 employees are front-line workers, we have come to recognize that a crucial role is played by line managers and supervisors. We have introduced Supervisor Academies to specifically target the development of this group of future leaders, but we have seen that it is also crucial to encourage regular interactions around performance. For those companies that still need to retain a formal performance management structure, in order to maintain a high level of standardization or because a component of their performance system is closely tied to the annual financial reporting structure, for example, supplementing annual reviews with mid-year reviews and regular performance dialogs can be an effective way of addressing this and driving engagement. 3. Values: Business success is no longer being judged just

on traditional financial metrics such as profitability, cash flow, or revenue growth, but also increasingly on non-financial metrics. Performance against environmental, social, and governance factors is now a major consideration for investors and customers. In a tight labor market, it is also becoming a key ingredient in attracting the next generation of recruits to join and stay with a business. Performance management systems need to be adapted to capture value-based performance and development, but they can also in parallel play an important role in driving a culture of values through a company. In 2018, we introduced a new framework of leadership attributes for all white-collar workers, built around working with qualities such as results orientation, purpose, and a positive attitude to change – what we at DHL call “Head, Heart, and Guts�. This reflected our commitment not just to developing common leadership qualities and skills to drive our business in the future, but also to embedding principles such as diversity and inclusion at every level. In 2020, these attributes have also undoubtedly helped to build the resilience of our company against the various challenges that have arisen every day.

How has COVID-19 changed the game?

The pandemic threw a number of curveballs into the game in 2020. While many things will likely revert to the way they 22

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In this constantly changing world, which has underscored once again in the last year just how unpredictable it can be, performance management will remain a constantly evolving discipline for the HR function and uncertainty, their adaptability to change, their problemsolving skills under pressure, their communications skills, and ability to develop and sustain personal connections with their colleagues is becoming more important. The transferability of these skills to other activities will undoubtedly be highly valued by employers who now have a higher sensitivity to risks and unexpected changes in the market. In this constantly changing world, which has underscored once again in the last year just how unpredictable it can be, performance management will remain a constantly evolving discipline for the HR function. However, those companies who can strike the right balance between driving performance and developing the skills and values that address future trends – while remaining flexible to change – will be best positioned to emerge from the current pandemic with greater strength and future growth prospects.

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were once the virus is brought under control, I see two trends that will “stick” and continue to shape performance management in the future. 1. Ways of working: Remote working will play a bigger role in the working set-up of most companies than it did in the past. There will remain differences depending on the proportion of white-collar and blue-collar workers, but in cases where companies – or even particular workers – have identified a clear productivity gain from working from home, technology and digitalization will be an enabler of this trend. Performance management systems will need to adapt to this in terms of tracking productivity, maintaining coaching, mentoring, and development opportunities, and ensuring that engagement and values can continue to be reflected throughout the organization. 2. Leading through a crisis: This applies to everyone in an organization – because a crisis such as the one we faced in 2020 can pose even an existential threat to those companies that are unable to step up and lead on behalf of their industry and customers. Just as many companies have revisited their strategic priorities and their attitudes to risk and resilience as a result of the pandemic, a number of core skills have also come to the fore that, while already on the radar of most HR professionals, were perhaps not fully appreciated in the pre-pandemic world. Employees’ ability to work in an environment of ambiguity

Rob Rosenberg is the Global Head of Human Resources, DHL Supply Chain, an entity of the DPDHL group with 155,000 colleagues employed in 2000 sites spanning 60 countries. Rob sits on both the Divisional and Global HR Boards. FEBRUARY 2021 |

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Remote work will continue but not evenly:

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Photo Credit: Comcast

Comcast Cable's EVP HR, William J.T. Strahan


In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, William J.T. Strahan, Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Comcast Cable, shares some insights on trends that will have significant impacts on businesses globally, what the future of remote work would entail, and how organizations are shifting the needle on productivity management and performance assessment amid this uncertainty By Mastufa Ahmed

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The future of work, shrouded in uncertainty with a flurry of changes and a cloud of digital innovations, appears to be completely different. How do you see the current scenario?

Changes in the way individuals, teams, and markets operate have been occurring for a while - so I don’t think of it as “completely different”. Elements of these changes – robotics, optical recognition, machine learning – are really extensions of automation that have been incorporating into work for decades, providing more data than legacy automation and a different type of output, that is, fewer simple comparisons and more sophisticated analyses like sentiment, facial recognition, and autonomous machines. More digital systems mean that workers are spending less time passing information back and forth, less time with simple analysis, and less

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is an Active Member of the Virginia State Bar. Bill serves as chair of the board of Philadelphia Works, an organization that connects employers to a skilled workforce and helps individuals develop the skills needed to thrive in the workplace, and chair of the board of the Emma Bowen Foundation, a leader in promoting young people of color for careers in media and technology. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

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illiam J.T. Strahan, Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Comcast Cable leads the Human Resources function for Comcast Cable. He has responsibility for all aspects of Human Resources including talent, compensation, benefits, learning, employee, and labor relations. Bill has been involved in various aspects of Human Resources work for over 35 years. He began his career with over a decade of work at Macy’s Department Stores and Riggs National Bank. The second decade of Bill’s work included practicing law in Washington, D.C. in the area of Compensation and Benefits – mostly in the context of mergers and acquisitions and in initial public offerings. For nine years, Bill was a consultant and manager at Mercer HR Consulting. Bill holds a B.A. in Religion from Villanova University; and a Juris Doctorate from the George Mason University School of Law. He

“Hybrid meeting” shift is here to stay, meaning we will much more frequently spend time in collaboration that will be combinations of synchronous and a-synchronous; both physically proximate and virtual february 2021 |

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time doing the administrative activity. What is actually different is the speed of the change, which has accelerated dramatically, especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, and this is critical, as more workers will be using the output of these digital products to then do new, very sophisticated, creative, and very human work, as opposed to just using the digital tools within the legacy structure of old jobs.

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With COVID-19 triggering a monumental shift in how and where work gets done and it seems, the workplace is set to see a massive overhaul. What are the top two trends that will have significant impacts for businesses globally? I think the “hybrid meeting” shift is here to stay, meaning we will much more frequently spend time in collaboration that will be combinations of synchronous and a-synchronous; both physically proximate and virtual. This is important not just for making collaboration more efficient relative to travel expense, but it will bring a higher level of inclusiveness. Fresh faces and voices are more likely to be included. The use of digital tools will continue to be a necessity. The second one is what COVID-19 could not change, but did highlight - there are millions of people whose workplace | FEBRUARY 2021

is out in the community – in customers’ homes or places of business, in natural resource areas, movie studios, on city streets, and in hospitals, schools, and retail. These people are NOT working on Zoom or Microsoft Teams and have not shifted to a virtual environment. The trend is a renewed respect and appreciation for “frontline” workers and the need to safeguard them and the people they engage with. Our company expanded the capacity of the internet in our markets to accommodate the increase in demand from people working and learning from home, and we have journalists out in harm’s way telling the story of the day. We understand that we need to be even more focused on them and caring for them in a separate way than those who are able to work safely from their homes.

Is remote work here to stay? Can it help in creating a more sustainable future of work? Remote work is going to continue but not evenly. To the extent that someone is a true individual contributor or working transactions, especially if they are working across chat, phone, or computers, I think we will see an increase in the number of people working primarily remotely. My belief, though, is people working on collaborative, creative or development teams will want to find themselves back together in the workplace even if it is for sprints of a few days, weeks, or even longer workshops and events. The powerful effect of body language and social cues that steer great team design work is not yet able to be captured in two-dimen-


sional, two sense, virtual conferencing.

People working on collaborative, creative, or development teams will want to find themselves back together in the workplace even if it is for sprints of a few days, weeks, or even longer workshops and events formed cross-functional teams. These teams had to build new protocols for how work was done that cared for the wellness of teammates and customers, but at the end of the day had to get goods and services “out the door”. Setting HR policy in a pandemic is tantamount to setting customer interaction policy. The future great HR leaders will have had the experience of thinking, designing, and executing in this bi-lateral way, differently than when I was coming up in the profession in the 80s and 90s. Further,

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Has COVID-19 crisis transformed the role of HR? How

the economics of labor has had the most interesting competition with capital and non-human investment ever. We can see the acceleration of digital capability in the economy through more financial capital being invested in digital tools and automation, both to keep humans safe (employee and customer) and also to make the operation more effective and efficient. HR must think more like a general manager in this kind of environment to build and execute an B IG

What should be the top imperatives for leaders in the new reality of COVID19 to address the enormous short and long-term goals? One is to try to reinforce the need for facts and a reliance on expertise. With COVID-19, we have seen examples of genius: CO-V generic mapping leading to the rapid development of vaccines, even optimizing the mRNA platform, but also the power of gossip, rumor, and speculation to resist science and solid policy. Leaders need to appreciate that the tension we see in the media is present in the workforce. Taking care of how we inform and engage our teammates so we can maintain and grow the trust that workers have in leadership is critical to do anything big and complex. Secondly, a renewed focus on holistic wellness could not be any more timely or important. At Comcast, we focus on four elements of wellness simultaneously – physical, emotional, career, and financial. Stress and impairment from any of these always aggregate as stress or provide limitations on people’s best work. Overall wellness should be a top strategy for every HR team globally.

can HR take the lead in helping their businesses accelerate continued performance? In shorthand and maybe too simplistically, I think that we will see a gradual merging together of the functions of the COO and the CHRO. I believe that the best HR functions, those that are most relevant, will see themselves as enablers of managing the achievement of the strategic plan through people. During COVID-19, I have seen many HR leaders integrating into newly

appropriate talent plan that complements these investments to best achieve business goals.

Do you think the pandemic has offered an opportunity to get social inequalities, diversity, and inclusion right, now that the pandemic has elevated disparities and gaps? I think that the pandemic gave us an opportunity to try and get social inequalities, diversity, and inclusion right. I want to be precise about those words. My sense is that in 2020, in FEBRUARY 2021 |

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to work in while performance management followed after. As we become more used to the environment, I believe that organizations are getting more clarity on real output and real contributions.

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the United States, and then rolling through to Europe, and many other countries, the murder of George Floyd was such a catalyst for many reasons. The sad, shameful fact is that the murder of black men and women and violence against people of color is hardly new. What was different with Mr. Floyd was that the raw emotion, the anger, and the tools of mass voice through the digital tools all came together. From a workforce perspective, I think that society and business were optimized for confronting our anger, our fears, and our ignorance, all enhanced by virtual conferencing. We have the advantage of seeing one another, hearing each other’s voice, but with just enough objectivity and distance that old social pretexts could be overcome by honesty and real human connection. The experience of my company providing both connectiv| FEBRUARY 2021

What's your take on how can organizations instill a continuous feedback culture and have clarity between assessment and development? There are three simple things: first, senior leaders have to make themity and storytelling through selves available in authenall of this unrest and uncertic and approachable ways. tainty will be a career-definThey need to answer quesing point of pride for me. tions from teams and be open with the context for their Do you think organizagoals and objectives for the tions are shifting the needle team. Second, real work has on productivity manageto go into the manufacturment and performance assessment amid this uncer- ing of data to measure work. It is worth the effort to be tainty? sure that some portion of I think it cuts both ways. every project’s, or standing Initially, organizations process’ resources be devoted adapted very quickly, and to measure of progress. Data teams and workers were builds clarity. Third, underincredibly creative in meetstand that feedback has to ing the needs of customers and clients – everything from be on-going in order for it to become authentic and free healthcare workers – obvi– like exercising any other ously, to restaurant teams capability, the more it occurs, pivoting to takeout and grocery, the scale-up of logis- the better we become at it. tics businesses, even our own Feedback is not a skill that call center agents. We pivoted a leader learns; feedback is an element of a healthy relathousands of our employtionship between two unique ees to work from home so people. The two have to practhey could continue to serve tice it together – the more it millions of our customis dialogue and not monoers across the US. Our first logue, the better the relationpriority was ensuring that they had a safe environment ship.


Organizations serious about high performance must rethink the way they measure performance in a post-pandemic world By Anushree Sharma

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ere is a classic view of performance review:

• Here is what you did • Here are your new goals • Here is your salary hike (or pink slip) And this is why neither did employees like the performance review process nor did managers like

conducting these reviews. This process was enormously draining on morale, energy, and time. The performance reviews are often viewed as punitive and incapable of reflecting the fast pace of business, and the ratings have been found to have little correlation to company results. But for many years, they were

also seen as a necessary evil. Then a few companies started a movement. Businesses including GE, Deloitte, Accenture, did away with the performance ratings. But then, further research manifested that eliminating ratings led to a drop in performance and engagement. Leadership advisory firm CEB found that the number of Fortune 1000 companies eliminating the annual review increased to 12 percent in 2015 from one percent back in 2011. But CEB subsequently FEBRUARY 2021 |

Performance Management

The new approach to performance management

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Performance Management

found that getting rid of the review didn’t always reverse its restrictive effects. In fact, it proved to drop employee engagement and performance by 10 percent.

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CEB’s analysis also found: • Manager conversation quality declined by 14 percent • Managers spent less time on informal reviews conversations • Top performers’ satisfaction with pay differentiation decreased by eight percent • Employee engagement dropped by six percent The original push to remove reviews and their

attendant ratings should have given managers more time to discuss performance rather than defend ratings. That didn’t always occur. But the dystopian year 2020 also paved the way for new opportunities. Yes, accelerating digital transformation was one of the opportunities but the crisis also forced talent leaders to think about different aspects of performance management which was going over and beyond appraisals, reviews, and goal settings. The COVID-19 crisis prompted employers to think about the performance that was more aligned with people development and creating a better employee

Is measuring performance only limited to goal attainment or is it more than exceeding expectations?

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experience in the strong belief that this will improve performance — not only of the individual employee but of the organization overall. So with this new approach to working, new expectations of business and market, and sustaining crisis how do we measure performance management? Here are some of the emerging tenets to measuring performance. Measure for new skills developed: One of the major shifts predicted by the Aon Salary Increase Trends Survey 2020-21, was skill-based pay. Skill-based pay refers to a pay system in which pay increases are linked to the number or depth of skills an employee acquires and applies, and it is a means of developing broader and deeper skills among the workforce. This not only reinforces the outcome of your performance management but also makes employees more accountable for their own learning and growth. Measure how much your employees are engaged in training programs, track the number of activities they are indulged in to upskill themselves. Reading books, attending online workshops, webcasts, or participating in competitions and events directly influence employees’ skills. Recognize employees’ flexibility and willingness to develop


The next-generation performance management depends on digital monitoring and tracking platforms to generate real-time analytic insights responsibilities. Ensure roles aren’t in conflict and don’t inadvertently introduce difficult relationships with team members. Provide support so people aren’t overwhelmed by multiple roles. Use data for better performance: The nextgeneration performance management depends on digital monitoring and tracking platforms to generate real-time analytic insights. Those workflows and process insights can be prescriptive and predictive, as well as descriptive. With improved dashboards, leaders can see which teams best add value to what processes.

They can observe which workflows invite consolidation, automation, and/or professional development. Leadership can leverage data and analytics necessary to refine what high performance should mean for people and what it could mean for machines. These insights are indispensable. There will always be challenges and opportunities between managing highperformance people, highperformance machines, and high-performance systems. Innovatively confronting those challenges will be the most important leadership challenge this global pandemic has created. FEBRUARY 2021 |

Performance Management

new skills and adapt to a different role and how they have contributed to overall service performance outcomes. Committing to a highperformance culture: Amid the new ways of working with changing customer demands, employees are prompted to don multiple hats to the existing roles and responsibilities. According to a recent survey, on average, employees are responsible for 2.3 roles outside of their specified job. Entry-level employees had the least number of additional roles, but more experienced workers like managers said they were taking on additional duties. In total, just 7.3 percent of participants said they didn’t have to undertake tasks outside the job they had been hired for. Role flexibility and the resulting responsiveness are fundamental to agile success. Rather than encountering a problem and then having to wait for additional resources or a specific skill set, team members can keep the project moving by solving it themselves more immediately. While developing a multidisciplinary team is an important strategy for agile success, it is also necessary to consider people and ensure they are engaged and supported. Be fair and be clear about purpose and

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Technology is simple, but culture is hard:

S p e c i a l In t e r v i e w

Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks

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In a Special Interview with People Matters, Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, Behavioral Scientist and Professor of Management and Organizations at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan shares that now, more than ever, there is a need to nurture an organizational culture remotely By Yasmin Taj

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he one thing that came out very strongly as we started to adapt to the new world of work was the need to develop and inculcate an organizational culture that enables employees to thrive whether they work from the office or remotely. While we can have all the technology to support them, if organizations do not have the right culture, it will all fall flat. According to Dr. Jeffrey SanchezBurks, Behavioral Scientist and Professor of Management and Organizations at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, where he co-directs the Leadership+Design Studio, “Culture is going to be more fragmented when you start off remote—full stop.” In this special interview with People Matters, he | FEBRUARY 2021


Organizations that have invested in building a strong culture around a deep sense of purpose are better able to cohesively design and deploy new approaches to achieve success in times of disruption Sanchez-Burks’ has taught leaders in over 30 countries around the world who work in sectors including technology, financial services, consulting, arts & entertainment, government intelligence, mobility, manufacturing, and healthcare. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

The year 2020 has been nothing less than transformational in every sense. Looking back, what kept you up at night, and what were some of the biggest shifts that you observed?

Absolutely – I have been awestruck by how immensely human characteristics have shown themselves to be central to the resiliency of businesses. Take the emotional complexity in everyone’s life now. Astute leaders recognize they must recognize and legitimize the emotional complexity unfolding among their employees. Turning a blind eye toward these so-called ''soft'' elements of organizational life is no longer an option. Instead, leaders who tend to the natural social-emotional FEBRUARY 2021 |

S p e c i a l In t e r v i e w

emphasizes that technology is simple, but culture is hard. While companies with established digital workflows will be able to more quickly and seamlessly move employees from office to home, there needs to be a conscious effort to build the culture, else the corporate entity will not be able to perform to its optimum capacity. Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks received his Ph.D. in Social Psychology with a minor in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Michigan. Previously, he was on the faculty at the University of Southern California and has had visiting appointments at universities in Singapore, France, Russia, and Turkey. His research broadly focuses on social dynamics that shape strategic change and the design of human-centric innovations. Through this work, he has generated novel insights about how culture shapes work behavior, how context moderates social intelligence and emotional aperture, and approaches to facilitating mental bricolage that enable individuals to generate novel innovations using disparate knowledge they already possess. His research has been featured in a TED series, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, National Public Radio, Harvard Business Review, and other international media outlets. Professor

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S p e c i a l In t e r v i e w

dimension of their human talent have been more successful in keeping them engaged despite reduced physical interaction. The same is true for clients and business partners. A recent survey of leaders in Singapore conducted by us at the Michigan Ross business school revealed that addressing such engagement issues is a top priority.

In this moment of crisis, one has to make a lot of game-time decisions. How do leaders and organizations balance purpose and action in an environment like this? Organizations that have invested in building a strong culture around a deep sense of purpose are better able to cohesively design and deploy new approaches to achieve success in times of disruption. Clear purpose accelerates action during uncertainty. As we navigate

through the next normal, what have been some ways you have adapted to this time of tremendous change? I don’t think we’ll have the luxury of navigating to the new normal; the destination doesn’t currently exist. Instead, there is the need and the opportunity to design our preferable future. For me, this has been a tough, sometimes dark, but also inspiring process this year. I thrive on co-creating immersive leadership development experiences with business leaders. This year abruptly put a stop to a typical 200km a year of travel to the region along with Europe and the Middle East. Fortunately, as faculty director for several of our Executive Education programs, I have deployed a number of virtual and remote leadership development programs with partner organizations and this year forced me to

find ways to enhance and scale that. For many organizations, this crisis caused them to double down on their efforts to learn more about strategic innovation and change, and it has been extremely rewarding for myself and my colleagues at Ross to help.

Given that the business world has undergone severe disruption of late, the need to build culture has become more relevant than ever. What role does culture play in the transformation that organizations are going through in this new normal? What should organizations do to build their culture while employees continue to work remotely? An organization’s culture is embodied in its behaviors. With many working remotely, it becomes more difficult to ‘live’ that culture and remain in touch with

I don’t think we’ll have the luxury of navigating to the new normal; the destination doesn’t currently exist. Instead, there is the need and the opportunity to design our preferable future 34

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What according to you will be the most defining trends in 2021 as far as the world of work is concerned? I fully concur with the sentiment of the leaders’ documented in our recent Michigan Ross Leadership skills survey that argue for developing ‘soft’ skills, even in technical fields. This survey revealed that the top five skills needed for the next generation of Singaporean leaders included: flexibility/ agility, the ability to make tough decisions, foresight, effective communication, and long-term plan-

Given the pressing need to innovate ways to better engage with customers, business partners, and employees while continuing core business functions, agility will be the most important skill to hone ning in order to navigate the continuously evolving and challenging environment going forward. We also know from research on collective intelligence, that the primary way any complex collaborative tasks will succeed, is when each team member is able to deploy sophisticated socialemotional skills.

What do you think the year 2021 might look like as far as new skill sets and essential job skills are concerned? Given the pressing need to innovate ways to better

engage with customers, business partners, and employees while continuing core business functions, agility will be the most important skill to hone. Agility encompasses many of the other skills sought after by leaders in Singapore and the greater Southeast Asian region. Agility requires acumen in leading both execution and innovation— to make tough decisions in each of those domains and have sufficient foresight and long-term planning to adjust the proportion of effort spent on each. FEBRUARY 2021 |

S p e c i a l In t e r v i e w

the meaning that culture provides. Thus, now more than ever, there is a need to nurture an organizational culture remotely. Perhaps the way to think about this is from a traditional multi-channel approach of connecting with customers. Leaders need to see this as a creative design challenge and begin to experiment with low-cost, high authenticity ways to remind employees that they remain connected and their work is advancing on a core mission. This can include an increase in traditional channels of communication such as email and all hands on deck meetings. However, with an abundance of humility, I have seen leaders creatively use intentionally low-quality, but very personal brief video messages.

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Aviad Goz

Rethinking leadership system Leaders today need a new compass to be able to navigate in these unprecedented times of change

L e a d e r shi p

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eadership system� is a term recently coined to describe the full range of how leadership is exercised, formally and informally, throughout organizations. The COVID-19 crisis has significantly changed the role of leadership in organizations, having an impact above and beyond the functioning of any given system. The life experiences of those who lead now have not prepared them for this mega VUCA crisis. A static system will not do for leaders under the current state of affairs because of the vast amount of changes and the prevailing uncertainty. What leaders need instead is a systematic approach to be able to navigate themselves and their people. This approach must be agile, current, and accurate. They cannot simply rely on their previous leadership capabilities. They need a new compass to be able to navigate in these unprecedented times of change. | FEBRUARY 2021

Leaders need to take into account the human factor – which goes beyond business and operations, much more than they have done before. It is the element of leading people as people When the level of uncertainty and ambiguity is almost infinite, people look up to their leaders for answers to some fundamental needs. It has always been like that throughout the history of crisis management. Be it a war, or a natural disaster, people’s needs

in such times are known and have been recorded over the ages.

The human factor in leadership now

In times of crisis, leaders owe their people a clear sense of direction and focus, even when visibility is very


trust that is so missing in the world at this stage. Leaders can also inspire hope in such times, but it should be open-ended hope, without a deadline. No one knows how long the current situation will continue. Therefore, to offer hope with clear deadlines ("by the summer it will be over" etc.) is a mistake. If those deadlines do not come into reality, people will wind up breaking down as morale fades, and psychological resilience is weakened.

They need to encourage, contain peoples' feelings, and offer alternative promoting beliefs. All great leaders like Churchill, Gandhi, and Mandela, to name a few, did just that in times of severe crisis. Lessons from history and the current crisis suggest that great leaders do all of the things mentioned above. The issue of real leadership has been neglected for too long. Real leaders lead us from A to B both externally and internally. With

Embracing a systematic approach to be able to navigate their people – which is agile, current, and accurate, is important for leaders today

Leaders need to be an example of all the above by choosing to lead themselves first, beyond the boundaries of their own concerns and uncertainties. That is the first thing that is needed. Without self-leadership in a Leading in a time of time like this, it is very chalcrisis lenging and almost unethiIn times of crisis, leaders cal to offer real leadership to need to provide transparent others. and frequent information Leaders now need to help about what they know and those that are worried and what they do not know, in this way inspiring trust. Employ- fearful to overcome their fears, so they can again ees are not children from become fully functional whom the grim reality must and contributing employbe hidden. They are adults. ees. They need to legitimize With the right informapeople's concerns and not tion provided at the right hold these against them. time, they will develop the

the right leaders, we grow and develop, whilst reaching new heights of achievements. Not everyone that was nominated as such is fit to be a leader now. As structures crumble and businesses are heavily disrupted, new types of leaders are needed. They should be able to navigate us even in great uncertainty. Would you care to join the new leadership that is so badly needed?

L e a d e r shi p

poor. This focus or direction can be short-term, with regular updates, allowing for the flexibility required to respond to the constant and rapid changes that times like these require. Leaders need to take into account the human factor much more than they have done before. The human factor goes beyond business and operations. It is the element of leading people as people. As people are worried and uncertain, leaders need to proactively offer support, encouragement, and engagement. In short, leaders need to discover their own human aspects, beyond their operational excellence and bring these to the workplace with them. For most leaders, this was not necessarily the case before. So, leaders need to find in themselves those "soft areas" that will enable connection, and therefore a continuation with their teams beyond the crisis.

Aviad Goz is the founder and Chairman of N.E.W.S. Coaching and Training, and the founder of Momentum Group, and a globally recognized thought leader in personal and organizational development. FEBRUARY 2021 |

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The future will be all about flexibility and balance: VMware’s Duncan Hewett In t e r v i e w

In conversation with People Matters, Duncan Hewett, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Asia Pacific, and Japan, VMware, dives into how remote working is addressing sustainability and diversity issues, the rising expectation from employers to provide access to digital tools, and the biggest opportunity presented by 2020 By Bhavna Sarin

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uncan Hewett is an industry veteran with over 20 years of extensive experience in the software industry, a majority of which he spent at IBM. Having joined VMware in 2016, Duncan is presently serving as Senior Vice President and General Manager, Asia Pacific, and Japan, VMware and is responsible for VMware's business across India, SEA & Korea, Japan, China, and A/NZ. In an exclusive interview with People Matters, Duncan dives into how remote working is addressing sustainability and diversity issues, the rising expectation from

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employers to provide access to digital tools, the biggest opportunity presented by 2020, and the emergence of co-innovation. Here are excerpts of the interaction.

ing to the new world has adapted to a digital customer experience. The shift has also affected the way we think about security. We now need to secure company data with a highly distributed remote workforce and secure customer data with a new digital-first customer approach.

implications of building a digital foundation and now is evolving towards how best to service end-users. I see CIO and CEO priorities are more aligned today than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated digitalization in organizations but as we move to 2021, employees are demanding The global health crisis has more access to faster and shaken up the normal ways of better digital tools. Recent work and upended businesses research by VMware on the future readiness of compalike never before. What does it mean for businesses as they nies and their employees plan for the year 2021? Do you in APAC found that around 89 percent of employees see any big opportunity that believe that it is the employbusinesses should seize in er’s responsibility to ensure 2021? employees have appropriate From a leadership perspective, I think all future access to digital tools needed for remote work. As distribleaders will be software uted work becomes integral minded in some capacity. It to the future of work, IT will has been a defining year in extend to new levels of innothe shift towards end-users of technology – be it employ- vation to help people engage, ees or customers. The discus- interact, and work from remote environments. sion has surpassed the cost FEBRUARY 2021 |

In t e r v i e w

What does the COVID-19 triggered ‘big reset’ mean for you? Is it about the increased emphasis on agility, adaptability, and sustainability of businesses or a newly emerging focus area? As we find ourselves in this unique situation, there have been some major shifts in the way we do business today and will conduct business moving forward. The fundamental shift to a truly digital workforce is already underway. The provision of seamless access to the systems, tools, and applications that are productive, collaborative, and can be accessed securely has been the IT team’s priority. The seamlessness with which millions of employees were fully productive and collaborative overnight is the biggest shift for me. As a tech company with hundreds of thousands of customers, we’ve seen that customers are going through the same challenges – they too are worried about their families, finances, and their futures. The kind of customer experiences needed right now is not necessarily the same things needed a year ago. Every company that is adapt-

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In t e r v i e w

The traditional office environment is changing amid this chaos, but the degree to which it should be shifting is something experts have different opinions on. What's your take on this? We have permanently shifted the balance to remote working. However, the future will be all about flexibility and balance. We will never have a 100% remote or 100 percent onsite team. We foresee that depending on the industry, there will be a shift in balance.

Recent research by VMware on the future readiness of companies and their employees in APAC found that around 89 percent of employees believe that it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure employees have appropriate access to digital tools needed for remote work Remote working can help address some of the major sustainability and diversity issues across the country ranging from pollution, traffic to allowing greater access to people across regions to participate in the workforce. This is our biggest opportunity to create a better world, a greener planet, and a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

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industry that you think will last for the long term? What specific gaps, blind spots, and opportunities have COVID-19 brought to the fore? Every industry has been impacted in the way they interact with their customers. Customer experiences are now being delivered based on tailored needs. We have also seen an acceleration in investments in telehealth, as many patients will not want to go back to waiting in the waiting room to be seen by a doctor for

What are the key COVIDtriggered trends in the tech | FEBRUARY 2021

non-life-threatening issues. Federal, national, and state or provincial govt have seen a surge in the need to provide services online to keep citizens informed and safe. This shift will continue in the long run as many governments have made investments to allow delivery through modern applications providing real-time citizen services with apps such as contact tracing. School closures have transformed the schoolroom

into an online learning program. EdTech startups have seen massive investments in countries like India which are now being used by the world. As worldclass education and delivery go online, while we will return to regular schools, a huge part will become hybrid education providing both flexibility and opportunity to learn from the best. Traditional financial services will continue to transform their customer experience. They have been forced to compete with digital-first Fintechs born in the cloud before the crisis and move to more consumerfriendly mobile-first platforms. We will see this trend continue to accelerate as they provide new digital services to customers and migrate from cash to cashless transactions. According to recent MIT research, 75 percent of CIOs in APAC have accelerated their digital transformation plans during the pandemic. In the last few months, organizations have rapidly driven tech adoption to allow their employees to be productive and the organization to serve customers. Throughout this challenging year, we have seen countless examples of how customers, across industries, and at different stages of digital transformation, have pivoted. The CIO and the IT teams have been


thrust into the limelight to be the leader, helping to make a real contribution, be it by creating a digital workspace to support a distributed workforce or securing data and apps.

What has changed for VMware amid this pandemic? Can you take us through the most impactful restructuring exercise/initiatives the company has undertaken in recent times? We have adapted quickly to support our customers and help them respond to the challenges without disruption. Our digital workspace solutions have been at the disposal of the customers when they needed to shift to remote work environments. Application

modernization has become a key priority for CIOs and governments to enable digital customer experience. Security was and continues to be a critical area for customers as remote work environments will continue to thrive in 2021. VMware, with over 30,000 employees, shifted to remote working overnight last year. We saw our employees work flexibly through the course of this year. From a solutions point of view, we’ve always been organized around the customers’ needs – our strategy on being able to support ‘Any Application on Any Device from Any Cloud’, securely, continues to hold and defines our structure and go to market.

Do you feel confident in your business post-COVID-19? What are your top priorities moving forward in 2021? Customers are at different stages of adapting to the new environment. Irrespective of the stage, they are all looking at disrupting or staying ahead in their industries. I am very positive that we can help customers transform digitally at every stage of growth and respond to the current conditions. Our top priorities remain to help accelerate transformation faster and make every customer intrinsically secure. FEBRUARY 2021 |

In t e r v i e w

As every company needs to think like a digital company, the need for engagement and a ‘solution approach’ will increase

As the global economy reopens, how can companies harness the spirit of innovation to re-think how they produce their products? What is your advice? I think more co-innovation between technology leaders, customers, and partners will happen in the following years. As every company needs to think like a digital company, the need for engagement and a ‘solution approach’ will increase. CIOs have done a tremendous job across the board and the opportunity for the future is even bigger. My advice to readers is to seize the opportunity for technology and use this as a breakthrough moment to help the business move forward with the right digital approach, which will be unique for each company.

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John Gaunt

Learning (and unlearning) from COVID-19 The pandemic forced us to reevaluate our ways of working paving way for unlearning the rudimentary and relearning ways to function and survive in the new normal

The New Workplace

We are creatures of habit and used to doing almost everything around us in a certain, predictable way. But the pandemic forced us to reevaluate our ways including working

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hen 2020 began, the COVID-19 pandemic affected all of us in the unruliest way possible. It was no longer possible for countries, industries, and economies, let alone individuals, to continue living the same way as before. We are creatures of habit and used to doing almost everything around us in a certain, predictable way. But the pandemic forced us to reevaluate our ways including working. Thus began the process of unlearning the rudimentary and relearning ways to function and survive‌in the new normal.

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Embracing agility

Agility and empowerment took on a completely new meaning as the virus developed differently in each country and governments took various measures. Smart company leaders evaluated the seriousness of the situation, adopted an agile stance, and took rapid action, as deemed necessary. That included making hard but important decisions ahead of other companies, knowing their swift and decisive actions protected employees from harm, and consequently protected their clients and their business. Some companies, with their priorities, firmly set, acted


quickly and in some cases weeks ahead of lockdown mandates. To accomplish this, key teams had to be assembled and fully empowered to make decisions overnight and provide employees with all necessary tools. As employee and client well-being became top priorities, the biggest lesson learned was to embrace agility and focus all efforts.

Leading with empathy

Leadership across all organizations at multiple levels realized the need to intensify support efforts for employees as well as their families

FEBRUARY 2021 |

The New Workplace

Leadership across all organizations at multiple levels realized the need to intensify support efforts for employees as well as their families. It was not the time to focus on sustaining business stability, but it was of paramount importance to ensure that employees and their loved ones felt looked after. Internal communication channels and methods were adapted to allow a fully virtual work environment. The frequency of messaging was increased to keep employees up to date and

safely working remotely. It also demonstrated the true virtue of listening closely to all employees and by reaching out with employee “Support Surveys� that could surface employee challenges and spot problems. Savvy organizations subsequently announced a series of benefits and supports for its employees, including full appraisals, work from home expense allotments, and other programs. Several other organizations followed suit and implemented physical and mental wellbeing programs for their employees. They realized that times were tough and that authentic empathy would carry us all through this difficult time.

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Engaging for motivation

The New Workplace

As the impact of the pandemic deepened, company teams realized that it was likely going to be months before they would physically see each other again. Virtual meetings and interactions were stepped up to make employees feel connected, continuously motivate them, and help them overcome the void left by remote working. Colleagues who once enjoyed lunch and coffee breaks together were suddenly overworking, burning out, and missing catchups with their teammates. COVID fatigue soon became a reality.

Transitioning to employee experience Companies’ engagement efforts were purposefully transformed into full employee ‘’experience’’. New internal campaigns were strategically introduced including conversations on social media channels were triggered. Frequent town halls and virtual coffee meets with leadership

increased, which helped to keep communications clear and erase any ambiguity in the minds of employees. Mobile apps were launched for employees, keeping them updated in real-time on virus news, safety tips, and providing contact info for hospitals and sites for healthcare visits. Successful companies awarded some of their employees with COVID Warrior Awards, applauding their sincerity and productivity in stressful times, thus building company loyalty. Companies learned not just to be sensitive but also to be appreciative of all of their work teams.

Planning and implementing

As companies across sectors sprang into action to survive stressful times, the successful ones meticulously laid the groundwork and conducted thoughtful research to come up with feasible support and benefit options for employees that were then implemented. Organizations realized they needed to broaden their horizons and to move toward new employee expe-

The road ahead is a little tricky as we are all warming up to the new normal. It has taken a lot of effort for all of us to unlearn what we had been following as second nature for so long 44

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Looking ahead

We are hoping the pandemic will end soon. Many organizations stumbled over the roadblocks along their way. Each organization was required to learn, transi-

tion, and evolve to survive. While some elaborated their upskilling agenda, others announced permanent work from home options for certain roles. Others are seeking to strengthen their existing hybrid talent and new ways of working. Some came out with daily newsletters and chronicles to simplify communication while others partnered with industry associations for CSR initiatives and collaboration. The road ahead is a little tricky as we are all warming up to the new normal. It has taken a lot of effort for all of us to unlearn what we had been following as second nature for so long -- our nonchalant attitudes towards health, our taken-for-granted perspectives towards relationships, our daily habits of living and working, and even our basic assumptions. But adaptation is an evolutionary must-have that will prevail if we accept change.

The New Workplace

riences. Many mapped out strategic and upskilling agendas and tools leading to the creation of an innovation culture within their teams and mutually-beneficial broader skillsets. These efforts helped to sustain business initiatives and maintain excellence in service delivery for customers. Some organizations increased their employee insurance benefits. Some provided extra benefits such as corporate tie-ups with hospitals, ambulance services, portable oxygen devices, and more to its employees and even expats' families in India. As a result, organizations have been able to prevent COVID-19 related employee attrition, extremely limited COVID-19 cases among employees across, and have realized protections of the existing business.

John Gaunt is the Chief Human Resources Officer of Synechron FEBRUARY 2021 |

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s t o r y


the world of work has changed, so must the way we manage employee performance and measure results By Mastufa Ahmed

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FEBRUARY 2021 |

s t o r y

make performance management more useful this year and in the years to come, the report adds. Given the current environment, businesses must reinvent how they manage the performance of their employees that triggers the right behaviors in the remote working world, delivers on investment, and develops processes that result in desired business outcomes. HR leaders need to help prioritize what needs to get done. Managers and employees need to be very clear about what's expected because priorities for a lot of companies are shifting. Measuring results is also changing in the remote/hybrid world of work which calls for right tools and processes. It is crucial to be very clear on what metrics, goals, and results are businesscritical. Since everyone works differently, measurement should be done objectively. So, how should organizations calibrate their productivity and performance yardsticks? What should be the key components of the new framework of continuous assessment at a time when everyone is talking about collaboration, innovation, business impact, client success, and new skills? How should you define and measure productivity amid changing business priorities? Our cover story attempts to throw light on the new paradigms of performance and productivity management in the current reality.

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t’s always the small pieces that make the big picture. Long before the pandemic, top-notch organizations were already debating the relevance of conventional performance management systems and embracing adaptive approaches that are based on a continuous process with periodic checkpoints to facilitate a transparent and merit-based evaluation of work that is employee-friendly. In fact, successful organizations around the world had steadily started replacing their traditional ranking system with innovative performance management solutions. COVID-19 has changed everything and we have already seen the rise and acceleration of several new trends on how businesses operate. We have seen organizations remodeling themselves to adapt to the changing landscape with new processes. Organizations are already making adjustments to goal setting and ratings while communicating to their employees that they are valued and important. Top leaders today agree that the performance management system should be reinvented and recalibrated for better aligned results especially after the COVID-19 crisis. A Gartner poll of HR leaders earlier in 2020 showed that 87 percent of HR leaders were considering changes to performance reviews. HR leaders should focus on how to

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Create a performance management culture that is flexible, and scalable:

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Deloitte’s Jonathan Pearce COVID-19 has laid the groundwork for organizations to consider more permanent shifts to remote or hybrid workforces. Organizations will need to update and adapt their policies and practices around talent acquisition, performance management, learning and development, compensation, rewards, etc. to meet the demands of their new workforce models, says Jonathan Pearce of Deloitte By Mastufa Ahmed

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onathan Pearce is a Consulting Principal at Deloitte, leading the organization’s Workforce Strategies practice. He has 20 years of experience guiding clients in executing human-centric business transformation, developing talent strategies, and better aligning workforce programs to business priorities. Jonathan advises the C-Suite on large scale initiatives to unlock new enterprise value by reshaping workforces in the context of the Future of Work.

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COVID-19 has fundamentally altered how many organizations think about goals. The biggest shift we have seen has been in organizations tasking teams and individuals to focus on what matters most. There has been a concerted effort to set, measure, and reward only the most essential of priorities during this time of disruption

Jonathan leads the development of Deloitte’s partner ecosystem and technology assets to support workforce transformations. Previously, he served as the Chief Strategy Officer for Deloitte Tax where he initiated a program to bring to life the Future of Tax and unlock new business value through harnessing technology and human capabilities in innovative ways. Jonathan has deep technical experience in workforce mobility from strategy through operations, to risk management and compliance. He frequently presents on the future of workforce mobility in a digitized world. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

How do you see the longterm impact of the COVID19 pandemic on the future of work with COVID-19 triggering a massive shift in how and where work gets done? Deloitte’s 2021 Global Human Capital Trends Report identified five trends to watch for in 2021 and the first among those is


purpose HR Operating Model to suit the enterprise. • Advancing the workplace to enable workforce collaboration.

How do you see the impact of COVID-19 on performance assessment and productivity management? Are organizations shifting the needle on

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Has COVID-19 crisis transformed the role of HR? How are global talent leaders envisioning their role to adapt to changing times? The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented opportunity for HR to shape the way their enterprise competes, accesses talent, and shows up in the communities where they operate. To authentically lead, HR leaders need to reimagine their role, the

outcomes they deliver, and how they operate by: • Sensing the community, market, and their workforce to shift to be a social enterprise. • Driving record speed innovation and agility through workforce development • Extending the enterprise with a partnership ecosystem.

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an increased focus on wellbeing. Recognizing the inextricable link among wellbeing, work, and our lives has led more organizations to think deeply about ways they can design well-being into work. COVID-19 has laid the groundwork for organizations to consider more permanent shifts to remote or hybrid workforces. Within that context, there will be an increased focus on wellbeing demonstrated by shifts in digital and physical workplaces. Organizations are investing in new technology to enable seamless collaboration across their remote, hybrid, and on-premise workers. Through all of this, organizations will need to update and adapt their policies and practices around talent acquisition, performance management, learning and development, compensation, rewards, etc. to meet the demands of their new workforce models.

• Owning a complete and accurate view of “all-in” labor cost for the total workforce • Orchestrating the workforce experience to be inclusive of all talent and invigorate teaming and productivity. • Forecasting new and future capabilities and enabling continuous learning. • Reimagining work across the enterprise and in HR with digitalization and automation. • Leaping to a fit-for-

performance management amid this uncertainty? The societal disruption of 2020 has brought about new and complex challenges for performance management, which necessitate a more flexible ongoing approach to meet organizational and individual needs. The challenge is what was visible in terms of performance and productivity (eg. seeing someone in the workplace) has become invisible. The answer is in doubling down on a pre-COVID-19 trend of making sure performance FEBRUARY 2021 |

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and productivity measures are focused on outcomes, not inputs. The new business and social imperative is to create and maintain a performance management culture that is ongoing, flexible, and scalable, as well as ensures the right performance measures and methods of evaluation are being used to help individuals grow while doing meaningful work. Organizations are actively rethinking their measures of ‘productivity’ and ‘performance’ in light of COVID-19 and refining their performance assessment practices including but not limited to more agile goal setting, more real time assessments, and checking in vs. checking up on employees to create a healthy nurturing employee experience proven to improve business outcomes.

Is this the right time and an opportunity for managers to revisit objectives or goals that might need to be adjusted in light of COVID-19? How should they do it? Because there is no proven methodology to get it right in the existing circumstances? COVID-19 has fundamentally altered the way in which many organizations think about goals. The biggest shift we have seen has been in organizations tasking teams and individuals to focus on what matters most. There has been a concerted effort to set, meas| FEBRUARY 2021

ure, and reward only the most essential of priorities during this time of disruption. Our research points to several practices that have always been critical factors in a successful performance management design, but that have become even more critical in promoting alignment and productivity in a time of uncertainty, distance, and change. • Establish a more agile approach to goal setting with the opportunity to

revise goals in response to changing business needs. • Integrate more transparency into goals—and their progress—within and across teams to mitigate potential overlap and to support one another in achieving goals. • Recognize and reward contributions towards agreed upon goals as a means of celebrating contribution and impact.

How can companies commit to a continuous feed-

Measuring performance is no longer a simple equation of tracking outputs and inputs. Rather, the new unified system of performance measurement requires shifting the focus to defining and generating work outcomes. In this system, it becomes less about the worker type – remote, hybrid, or onsite – and more about understanding the impact of each individual role


Beyond traditional performance parameters, employees today are contributing to organizations in ways including voluntary contributions beyond what their role demands of them. What’s your take on this? Organizations have moved to more data-driven approaches to assess performance by evaluating multiple dimensions of performance, including contributions beyond what the role demands. While meeting job requirements and demonstrating critical skills and capabilities is primary, organizations are also looking to uncover how individuals are teaming and communicating with one another, supporting others’ growth and develop-

ment, promoting inclusive teams, and making voluntary contributions beyond what their role demands. Organizations are creating opportunity marketplaces inside the organization via technology platforms that create a database of internal “gigs” and let workers extend their impact. In order to capture the impact, many organizations are implementing new forms of assessment—to create space for an individual’s contribution in areas like community and culture building, people development, recruiting, business development, or diversity, equity, and inclusion. Deloitte supports this move to more holistically measuring an individual’s impact and contribution.

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Create clarity between assessment and development by clearly defining the performance dimensions that employees will be measured on and communicating what is expected in their role. Clearly define and communicate growth and

development areas as nonevaluative and not tied to assessment or compensation.

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back culture and have clarity between assessment and development? Companies can commit to a continuous feedback culture in the following ways: • Clearly communicate the benefits of continuous coaching and feedback to all leaders in the organization. Can boost employees’ performance by as much as 27percent, increase their intent to stay by 25 percent or more, and increase their effort on the job by at 18 percent. • Implement ongoing checkins between managers and employees. • Frame coaching as part of every manager’s primary responsibilities. • Train managers to develop key coaching skills. • Share ongoing success stories. • Measure impacts of performance, engagement, and retention. • Measure and reward managers on the effectiveness of their coaching and feedback through upward feedback from direct reports.

How should you measure employee performance FEBRUARY 2021 |

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Organizations have moved to more datadriven approaches to assess performance by evaluating multiple dimensions of performance, including contributions beyond what the role demands for different types of workers? Can they have a unified system with the same metrics for remote, hybrid, floating, and other types of workers? Measuring performance is no longer a simple equation of tracking outputs and inputs. Rather, the new unified system of performance measurement requires shifting the focus to defining and generating work outcomes. In this system, it becomes less about the worker type – remote, hybrid, or onsite – and more about understanding the impact of each individual role. For exam| FEBRUARY 2021

ple, an app developer may be measured not by the number of features delivered, but the actual usability of those features to the end-user. Similarly, a Human Resources professional may be measured by improving the workforce experience or satisfaction levels of a benefits program vs. number of programs developed or implemented. By focusing on such outcomes (e.g., enduser utility and/or improved experience), organizations, teams, and individuals can prioritize what’s most important and focus on simple methods of measurement.

Is employee wellness core to productivity and performance? Incorporating employee wellness (or well-being) into work provides one of the largest opportunities to elevate what we call “the 3 Es”: work effectiveness, work efficiency, and workforce empowerment. Yet, it remains widely untapped. While many employees have experienced increased effectiveness and efficiency during the pandemic, they frequently express that it has come at the cost of wellbeing (distractions/lack of focus, isolation, blurred work/life balance, and increased working hours). This is concerning to many executives, given the longterm implications to health and potential burnout, both of which lead to plummeting performance. The good news is the wellbeing – performance equation can be balanced by providing clarity and choice. While no easy task, clarity can be achieved in defining team outcomes and setting measurable individual goals. Measuring work effectiveness and work efficiency can be achieved by empowering employees to decide when, where, and how they work so employees can gain the focus, flexibility, and autonomy required to bring their best selves to their work, operate at peak levels, and achieve well-being.


Organizations need to continue to evolve performance assessment: GitLab’s Jessica Mitchell

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Organizations will need to continue to evolve on how they assess performance and productivity especially if they have transitioned from a more conventional workforce to a fully remote workforce during the pandemic, says Jessica Mitchell, Director, HR Business Partner at GitLab, in an interaction with People Matters

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essica Mitchell is a Director, People Business Partner at GitLab with over 20 years of Human Resources experience. At GitLab, Jessica has supported the Development, Product, and Marketing teams in the People Business Partner function. Prior to GitLab, Jessica has held various HR roles within companies like Marconi, Cisco, and SailPoint Technologies. Jessica is passionate about helping drive solutions that focus on team member engagement, development, and business solutions. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

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By Mastufa Ahmed

With COVID-19 triggering an enormous shift in how and where work gets done, what according to you are the top two trends that will have significant impacts on businesses globally? Remote work: Companies will have to embrace and support team members who want to work remotely full-time post-COVID-19. Many team members have learned that they are more productive working remotely while having a positive impact on their personal lives due to less time commuting and the flexible

work schedules that improve better quality of life. Global compensation:

With the move to having more team members working remotely with many doing a similar role, we will see a shift in paying employees based on location, not role.

GitLab was fully remote even before the pandemic. Is remote work here to stay? Can it help in creating a more sustainable future of work? What have you learned from this pandemic? Being able to recruit and hire from most countries FEBRUARY 2021 |

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in the world is a distinct competitive advantage for GitLab. We will judge our impact and legacy on the world by how we influence the proliferation of allremote companies. We are hopeful that our hiring advantage will diminish over time. This will signal that all-remote is shifting toward being commonplace, with prospective employees having a broader selection of companies who offer such a structure. We believe that a world with more all-remote companies will be a more prosperous one, with opportunities more equally distributed. We're nearing a tipping point with all-remote. Instead of remote teams having to justify why they do it, it's going to be co-located companies having to justify why they don't. All-remote work wouldn't be possible without the constant evolution of technology, and the tools that enable this type of work are continuously being developed and improved. We aren't just seeing these impacts for all-remote companies. In fact, in some organizations with large campuses, employees will routinely do video calls instead of spending 10 minutes to go to a different building.

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assessment and productivity management amid this pandemic? How do you see the current performance management and assessment scenario? Organizations will need to continue to evolve on how they assess performance and productivity especially if they have transitioned from a more conventional workforce (team members in a corporate office) to a fully remote workforce during the pandemic. Those organizations that do not have a good performance or productiv-

• Applying iteration to everything • A company-wide organizational chart • Focusing on results To answer the second part of this question, I would point you to the Results section of our handbook and how we discuss GitLab’s value of “measure results not hours.” During these times organizations will need to shift to make sure they are accurately measuring the performance and productivity rather than

Those organizations that do not have a good performance or productivity management system currently in place will struggle to understand and determine how to gauge productivity compared to just the number of hours a team member works ity management system currently in place will struggle to understand and determine how to gauge productivity compared to just the number of hours a team member works. There will also need to be a shift in how managers manage remote teams. A few of the best practices that GitLab has regarding managing remote teams focus on the following: • Embracing Total transparency • Handbook goals and documentation • Asynchronous work

just the hours worked. This will take managers being engaged and truly understanding the team members’ roles and responsibilities and setting clear documented goals and milestones. Companies are going to have to review their performance review process that is currently in place and make sure that managers are equipped to be able to assess performance and productivity and not just hours clocked.

Has COVID-19 crisis transformed the role of HR? How


to the nature of the role requiring more in-person human interaction. This starts at the beginning with recruiting, interviews, team member compliance, engagement, performance management, etc. This is a great opportunity for HR leaders to lead the entire company with new and exciting ways to work and model that remote work can be possible in all aspects of the company.

How can companies commit to a continuous feedback culture and have clarity between assessment and development? I believe that our value of Transparency at GitLab drives the cycle for continu-

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should HR leaders reimagine their roles for the future of work? Great question! HR is usually seen as the champion for both the company and the team members. I think HR leaders need to be examples of how remote work and remote leadership actually happen. They can be role models to the company on best practices and also help train and develop the leadership on remote work best practices. This also allows HR leadership to re-evaluate processes currently in place to determine and identify areas for improved efficiencies and results. Working remotely for HR can be complicated due

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As more teams are remote and working asynchronously, peer feedback may also play a larger factor in the managers’ overall performance assessment of their team members

ous feedback, performance assessments, and development. We strive at GitLab to be as open and transparent as possible. This means open and transparent guidance for giving feedback, delivering performance assessments, and talking development with team members. For leaders, we are asking that they utilize various mechanisms to deliver and give continuous feedback. This could mean providing feedback in scheduled 1x1 meetings, in coaching sessions and when possible recognizing positive feedback in a public audience if appropriate. The key for managers is to continue to give feedback to team members in real time if possible. Do not wait six months to inform a team member of an issue that occurred in the past. Make sure you are taking the time as close to the event to provide both positive or constructive feedback. In 2020 GitLab implemented a Performance/ Potential Matrix. In the true GitLab spirit, we are iterating on this process as we move into 2021. The goal is for all of our team members to understand how they are performing in their role and their potential to assume increasingly broad or more complex responsibilities. Potential could include an opportunity to move up to the next level in their job family

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and or a potential lateral move to a new role. We look forward to continuing to iterate on this process with our team members and providing them with performance and development feedback. Development can mean many things to people and the goal is to understand how we support team members in their own personal career development. That can mean helping and guiding the team members in what skills or gaps they need to acquire before a promotion, it could mean networking opportunities outside of their group, it could mean stretch goals to learn a different part of the business or skill. The goal is for team members and managers to work together to create a plan to achieve those desired development outcomes together.

Technology has emerged as a business enabler with collaboration being just as productive as physical meetings. However, it lacks human touch. How can leaders enhance employees ‘work from home’ experience and manage virtual meetings effectively so employees stay engaged? GitLab being an all-remote company from day one has had a lot of experience iterating how to run virtual meetings effectively. We have a great section in our handbook about “How do you do all-remote meetings right?”. | FEBRUARY 2021

This includes making meetings optional. When possible, we record all meetings so those team members who are unable to attend can always go back and listen. We also document everything in our meetings. This eliminates those times when there is confusion or misunderstanding of what was said or agreed upon. Other things that we encourage is always start on time and end on time, cancel unnecessary recurring meetings and say thanks, and look for ways to be creative. I personally have been included in “virtual happy hours” or “virtual lunches” meetings.

Do you think employee wellness is core to productivity and performance? How do you ensure that? Yes, employee wellness is absolutely core to both productivity and performance. A team member that

is stressed due to managing perhaps a full-time role as well as being a full-time teacher to young children or a full-time caretaker to an elderly family member or friend can cause enormous strain and impact to team members. That impact would naturally spill over to both the team members' personal and professional life. We have created a mental health checklist for our team members to review to continually take a pulse of how they are doing and some tips and resources to manage stress or burnout.

How are solution providers gearing up to come up with solutions for organizations to effectively manage and measure performance? From what I am seeing is that solution providers are incorporating more ways to provide team members with


an unpleasant and unnatural process. Then, we saw a large shift to getting rid of all performance ratings at all. The idea was that with no rating you are not unintentionally causing a team member to become unengaged due to a performance rating label. The downside to this is that managers really struggled to give proper feedback to a team member. Also, it made pay for performance conversation and planning more challenging for the manager. It felt very subjective to the team member and could create a situation where a manager and team member were not on the same page in terms of realistic expectations when it came to annual merit review.

I think where we will land is somewhere in the middle with performance and development having an equal amount of importance and focus. This could mean that the conversations managers have with team members focus on how they are performing in their role compared to their peers with a defined performance rating. In the same conversation, the manager will incorporate a focus on development and career planning for the team member going forward. As more teams are remote and working asynchronously, peer feedback may also play a larger factor in the managers' overall performance assessment of their team members. FEBRUARY 2021 |

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How is performance management expected to evolve in the next 3 to 5 years? In years past, companies have had very strict performance management practices. These consisted of assigning a “ranking or label� to a team member and then enforcing that managers always identify a certain percentage in the top and bottom ratings. Labeling team members can have an unintended negative effect by demoralizing a team member and forced distribution for managers was

With the move to having more team members working remotely with many doing a similar role, we will see a shift in paying employees based on location, not role

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a more holistic approach to performance reviews and development planning. In the past, most reviews were primarily done by the manager. In future tools, I see that there will be new options to gather feedback to help the manager do a more thorough or holistic assessment. This could include a team member's self-review, a section for peer to peer, stakeholder, or key collaborator feedback, and perhaps even a section that highlights recognition throughout the year. A tool that can help tie the team members' performance and career development goals in one place would be beneficial to help build those links and provide a great roadmap for both the team member and manager.

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How KDIs measure beyond performance The advantage of KDI measurements is that they avoid the subjectivity of psychometric questionnaires, employee surveys, and happiness rankings that rely only on self-reporting

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By Dr. Bob Aubrey

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ey performance indicators (KPIs) are a staple of many performance management systems, but are they sufficient to measure the real contribution of individuals or entire teams? Or do organizations need to go a step further, and look at a different metric: key development indicators? Many companies experienced unexpected difficulty with their existing performance metrics during the COVID-19 pandemic. This fictional case illustrates how the problem arose, and why there is a need for different forms of measurement.

Heroes beyond performance

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It is early 2021 and this midsize multinational company, which could be anywhere in the world, is starting its post-COVID strategic planning. As they review the year just past, the CEO and | FEBRUARY 2021

KDIs should be part of any conversation about setting individual objectives and assessing impact and should figure in the assessment for bonuses Board find that HR has done a heroic job in managing the pandemic crisis. HR implemented health and safety policies to minimize contagion in operations worldwide. They engineered a miraculous acceleration in the use of technologies for working from anywhere. They reached out to every employee working from home and helped adjust the workplace to their

individual needs and preferences—especially those who had to home-school their children and make conference calls from their bedroom. They even sent computers and office equipment to those that needed it. HR organized resources and volunteers to help deal with the pandemic wherever the company operated. They instantaneously adopted and organized tracing technologies—while rejecting the suggestion from one IT consultancy to track employee “engagement” using the camera on employee computers. They embraced the shift to online learning and extended the platform to partners and suppliers. And yet, none of this tremendous contribution was


captured in the company's performance metrics. How could HR’s human development contribution to the company be measured?

KDIs: New foundations for measuring work

KDI (Key Development Indicator)

Purpose

Match strategic performance goals to organizational and individual objectives

Match strategic development goals to organizational and individual development objectives

Indicators

• Measure group and individual performance results • Short-term • Mostly numerical assessment

• Measure development and impact • Mostly qualitative assessment • Short- & long-term cycles • Alignment with human development policies

Stakeholders

• Alignment with organizational performance • Manager • HR performance function

• • • •

Using KDIs together with KPIs creates a unified system of metrics for the corporate functions of human development. These are sometimes part of HR, sometimes not. They include sustainability, employee experience (EX), corporate social responsibility (CSR), supply chain human rights compliance, diversity-equity-inclusion (DEI), branding of the employee value proposition (EVP), and learningand-development (L&D). The advantage of KDI measurements is that they avoid the subjectivity of psychometric questionnaires, employee surveys, and happiness rankings that rely only on self-reporting. KDIs

require external observation and assessment as well as self-reporting. Indeed, KDIs should be part of any conversation about setting individual objectives and assessing impact and should figure in the assessment for bonuses. Here is an example of a template that incorporates development into performance reviews. It is an illustrative case of a first-year associate in a consulting firm, where the associate’s KPIs and KDIs are equally weighted as a percentage of the total objectives because a lot of learning needs to be done in the first year. As shown in the example, KPIs and KDIs help the manager and associate distinguish between development and performance on FEBRUARY 2021 |

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Building development into performance reviews

Corporate HD strategy Self (self-development) Manager HR development function

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Performance goals are defined in the strategic planning process, then cascaded down to business units, teams, and individuals as KPIs. Managers and HR then focus on what KPIs can measure. But in today’s largest workforces, including the US but most visible in Asia, development has become at least as important as performance, and core to the HR profession. In companies, measuring human development is complex. As any L&D professional will tell you, one thing is sure: performance doesn’t measure development. So what does? Development means that something is getting better. What “better” means is defined by the company’s purpose and strategy. But companies don’t decide alone. Development must be measured for its impact on the company’s stakeholders and link to broader commitments. The chart below shows the difference between key performance indicators and key development indicators. On the left of the table are the familiar KPIs. On the right are the KDIs that measure what performance misses.

KPI (Key Performance Indicator)

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Goal weight

Assoc. assessment

Leader assessment

Associate Comments

Leader Comments

Assume role in project and ensure deliverables to client

20%

10%

15%

Needed assistance, made mistakes

Role was assumed but client relations needs work

Develop analysis for client needs for project

Quality of data gathering, relevance to project

20%

20%

20%

Client Needs derived needs for client were defined, used buy-in from client

KPI

Provide reporting documents

Quality of content, use to client

10%

10.00%

5.00%

Analysis was used in project report

Research was Ok but did not link to client’s business

KDI

Learn project method

Understanding, able to simulate new project

20%

20%

20%

Training completed, simulated project

Level 1 requirements fulfilled

KDI

Build team collaboration skills

Feedback from team members in 360 assessment

20%

10%

10%

Need to reach out, listen more

Too much analysis, not enough interaction

Self-assurance, career path

10%

5%

10%

Not sure project expert is for me

Opened up career perspective

100%

70%

80%

Objectives

KDIs

KPI

Contribute to new project as team member

KPI

Long Become proTerm ject expert KDI

the job. Note that the three development goals are about different areas of development: the first is a learning goal, the second is a social skills goal and the third is a career goal.

The road ahead

If we take the long view of the future of work, we can expect the shift to development to continue with 60

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further disruptions for HR. Today we are focused on adopting new technologies such as artificial intelligence in reshaping work. In the future, applications of brain science will shift the focus for both performance and development, creating a different ballgame with new ethical considerations. By 2050 we may even be preoccupied with how humanity

will live and work on other planets or in space colonies. But regardless of these changes, KDIs will remain an important form of measurement in people management.

Dr. Bob Aubrey is the Managing Director of Bob Aubrey Associates and Founder of the ASEAN Human Development Organization (AHDO)


Performance management must be aligned to the new reality: Fahad Naeem As workplace norms become ever more heavily weighted toward remote and virtual, performance assessment and measurement must be aligned to the new environment. Fahad Naeem, Head of Operations, Randstad Malaysia, explains why

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By Mastufa Ahmed

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n a world of changing business norms, performance management needs to stay up to date. People Matters asked Fahad Naeem, Head of Operations, Randstad Malaysia, for his observations of post-COVID trends and how performance management must match these. Naeem has close to 10 years' experience in the HR industry and specializes in technology recruitment, matching highly-skilled and experienced technologists across all levels with leading firms to drive Malaysia's innovation agenda. As Head of Operations, Naeem manages business strategies and finances, as well as local operations in talent recruitment. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

We have seen a lot of new trends set in the wake of the pandemic. What trends do you think will last longer and have significant impacts for businesses globally? COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the employee experience and company’s perception of its operations. We can confidently say that expectations on both sides have also changed. Three key trends have the highest potential of becoming a permanent feature in human capital devel-

opment—flexible work arrangements, integrated workforce, and skills development. 1. Changing expectations in work arrangements More and more employees would want to work for a company that provides a flexible, hybrid working arrangement, where they can choose to work in the office or remotely. According to the Randstad Workmonitor 2H 2020 survey, 48 percent of respondents said that their ideal work enviFEBRUARY 2021 |

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ronment in a post-COVID-19 world would be a combination of working from home and in the office. 14 percent want to work from home all the time. There are several reasons why candidates and employees are seeking this benefit. Some want to save on commuting time to run personal errands, while others may find themselves more productive when they work from home. Companies need to be aware of this changing expectation and explore the best ways to facilitate remote digital collaboration. HR teams will be responsible for driving this initi-

ative with business leaders and striking a balance between meeting business needs, maintaining engagement and productivity, as well as ensuring a positive employee experience. 2. An integrated workforce strategy Companies traditionally tend to hire permanent employees, as it is perceived to offer managers a sense of stability where their teams are concerned. Employees also prefer permanent roles as it gives them a better sense of job security. However, COVID-19 has proven that companies need

With remote working becoming a norm, it is critical for employers to move away from the point grading system and have regular discussions with their team members instead to understand their challenges at work and recognize small wins

to be always prepared for different situations, such as business restructuring, financial crisis, or organizational change. Having a largely permanent workforce would mean high fixed expenditures, which is difficult for companies to adjust when necessary. Organizations are more likely to adopt an integrated workforce strategy moving forward, where there is a healthy combination of permanent employees, contract workers, and freelancers. This allows organizations to practice more financial flexibility when it comes to workforce cost management. Hiring requirements will also take a more skills-focused approach as opposed to the linear growth that is typically based on the individual’s years of experience. Companies that have an integrated workforce strategy tend to benefit from having access to talent with diverse skills and experience as well as internal knowledge transfer, which will in turn enhance the value of the organization’s human capital. 3. Lifelong learning The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation at an unprecedented level, which has resulted in the widening skills gap. There are emerging roles from new technologies that the work-

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frequently asked questions from candidates and employees, which will enhance the experience and re-assign resources to more businesscritical activities.

Are organizations shifting the needle on performance assessment and productivity management amid this crisis? How do you see the larger picture? The way performance is assessed and measured must be aligned with the new environment and prepared for the future when remote working is expected to become a common practice. It is tougher for bosses to manage workers remotely. One of the biggest challenges for managers is to ensure that their employees are putting in 100 percent of their effort when working from home and not distracted by other leisure activities. However, this can FEBRUARY 2021 |

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Do you think COVID-19 has transformed the role of HR? From engaging the remote workforce's productivity to nurturing a new culture in dispersed workplaces, it seems they have more to deliver in the current scenario. What’s your take? The human resources industry has definitely taken the lead in 2020. From shifting operations out of offices to driving remote employee engagement, human resources practitioners are starting to assume the role of a business partner. HR professionals have also driven various initiatives in response to the

COVID-19 pandemic, such as implementing new workplace safety protocols and revising corporate insurance policies. This year, human resources professionals will be expected to drive conversations about changes to employees’ career development, performance management structures, and workforce management. For example, HR executives may propose new changes to performance measures that reflect remote working, or design online training courses to facilitate upskilling with the existing employees. HR teams are also expected to keep pace with the latest HR tech developments and propose new solutions that can drive productivity and reduce cost. Some examples include investing in cost-efficient chatbots to automate the process for

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force may not be prepared for, as the skills required for these jobs did not exist until recently. Given the novelty of these skills, the eligible talent pool is considerably small. The competition for this talent is very intense too, as countries and companies around the world are trying to engage with the same candidates. Employers need a twopronged approach to developing their human capital—hiring new talent and upskilling existing employees. Organizations that invest in their own talent development are often seen to be attractive employers, which would lead to wider access to the talent pool and a more loyal workforce.

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Senior management executives should give their managers more autonomy on employee engagement within their own teams. They can also adopt a more approachable tone when speaking with their employees and be more proactive when it comes to engagement

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be overcome through the use of project management tools and digital KPI setting tools. One downside to these digital tools is that they tend to only track outputs instead of inputs, which makes it difficult for managers to train and upskill their employees. For example, in a sales environment like Randstad, managers need to train employees on how they interact with clients on the phones and during meetings. Traditionally, the manager will sit next to the employee during these calls and evaluate their performance after to fine-tune their approach. However, this can prove difficult when the manager does not have a baseline to evaluate. With remote working becoming a norm, employers must move away from the point grading system | FEBRUARY 2021

and have regular discussions with their team members instead to understand their challenges at work and recognize small wins. These regular discussions can help to facilitate conversations about the growth and development of the employee to help achieve their personal career goals. Employers and employees should be working together to align and streamline the setting of goals, timelines, and expectations for better accountability and foster a culture of agility in the workplace.

How does your performance management system look like? How do you assess and manage performance and productivity amid this chaos with different types of workers especially virtual workers?

We conduct regular oneto-one performance review sessions with our employees. While there is a standard structure to these sessions to discuss challenges and achievements, the flow and tone of it are determined by the manager, and leaders are encouraged to have conversations instead of conducting one-way evaluations. The manager also takes the opportunity to discuss career growth opportunities and encourage the team members to proactively attend webinars and online seminars to build their network and upskill themselves.

How can leaders enhance the morale of virtual workers effectively so that they feel engaged and stay productive? There is a greater focus on internal communica-


These activities can only be successful if everyone aligns their perspective of how the organizational culture would look like. Senior management executives should give their managers more autonomy on employee engagement within their own teams. They can also adopt a more approachable tone when speaking with their employees and be more proactive when it comes to engagement. This will not only encourage those who are reluctant to ask for help when needed but also encourage the sharing of new ideas that might benefit the business.

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How can companies commit to a continuous feedback culture and have clarity between assessment and development?

Many people are hesitant to give and even more fear to receive negative feedback from their bosses. Some individuals also tend to have a passive-aggressive attitude or tone, which does not flow well with the rest of the team, which could damage the organization's culture in the long run. When employees don’t share their challenges or personal viewpoint in fear of repercussions, it can be detrimental to both the organization and the individual. These are some of the reasons why people are reluctant to have honest conversations about their performance and development with one another. If not addressed directly and quickly, employees will start to reserve their opinions, detach themselves from the company, and find another employer. Managers and employees alike should get into the practice of sharing ideas and feedback openly and regularly. Organizations should provide adequate training to employees on how to give and receive constructive feedback, as well as recognize good work. And while the review structure can be implemented by the HR team, individuals must feel comfortable and confident about giving and receiving constructive feedback on performance.

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tions to not only educate the workforce about COVID19 developments but also engage them on a more personal level. Many companies have incorporated the use of digital communications platforms such as Facebook@Work or Google Currents, or have enhanced their intranet network. These solutions also have fun tools such as polls and quizzes to facilitate virtual happy hours or work out sessions. In 2020, Randstad Malaysia has conducted virtual auctions to help raise funds for low-income groups to give back to our communities. A group of volunteers has also designed and conducted weekly ‘Wacky Wednesday’ quizzes to keep our employees engaged and positive.

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Soft skills have come to the fore and are, intrinsically harder to measure:

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Mark Bilton

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Performance management will now need to be based on milestone delivery and an agile approach to execution, says Mark Bilton, Managing Director of Thought Patrol, in an interaction with People Matters

Productivity measurement is now under pressure. One upside of a remote team is that you can only measure outcomes rather than process. This necessitates an open-minded, empowering leadership style

By Mastufa Ahmed

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ark Bilton is an international award-winning, “Leaders Advocate” with 20 years Managing Director and CEO experience, leading 6 companies. This included a transformational role as Group Managing Director of Gloria Jean’s Coffees’ global business, leading 40 countries. Mark has a passion for helping individuals and companies ‘’realize their potential’’. His mission is to ‘’reframe leadership’’ and ‘’humanize the workplace’’. He fulfills this now as a Leadership Advisor, Independent Director, CEO Mentor, Strategist, YPO | FEBRUARY 2021

Facilitator, and Managing Director of Thought Patrol. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

What are CEOs struggling with the most right now? Is it more about managing flexible working and accelerating digital transformation or something else? One significant challenge most CEOs are dealing with is how to lead a disparate team. With lockdowns and travel restrictions, leaders now have to work effectively in an online environment. When the business world started working from home

in 2020, measuring performance was harder than ever. How do you see the current scenario of managing performance and measuring productivity? Productivity measurement is now under pressure. One upside of a remote team is that you can only measure outcomes rather than process. This necessitates an open-minded, empowering leadership style. The legacy metrics are no longer useful in assessing a remote workforce, as many experts say. Do you think it’s time for organizations to shift the needle on performance


assessment and productivity management? Absolutely! Performance management will now need to be based on milestone delivery and an agile approach to execution.

What according to you are the top challenges to manage productivity and assess performance at a time like this, especially for remote workers? It is challenging to maintain the connection between

team members. This is where a lot of value lies, and it is largely lost in an online work environment unless you actively promote connection opportunities.

How can leaders enhance the morale of virtual workers effectively so that they feel engaged and stay productive? Connection and transparency remain key drivers of morale regardless of location. Feedback and opportunities to grow professionally can be lost online unless specifically thought about and catered for.

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Do you think organizations are shifting to an agile, goalsbased approach to performance measurement that focuses on outcomes rather than activity? Or, are they still struggling? Yes, there is a move to an agile goals-based approach. This has been accelerated by the necessity to manage remote teams. Many business leaders are still struggling with this, especially if their natural style is more traditional and control based.

Continuous assessment should be self, peer, and leader-led. Soft skills have come to the fore and are, by nature intrinsically harder to measure, as they are more subjective. Couple this with collaboratively agreed on outputs and outcomes, both team and individual

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A Gartner poll of HR leaders showed that 87 percent of HR leaders were considering changes to performance reviews. Do you think, this will create additional responsibilities for HR leaders? Progressive HR leaders were already in transition to a less industrialized review cycle.

What should be the key components of the much talked about framework of continuous assessment when everyone is talking about collaboration, innovation, business impact, and client success? Continuous assessment should be self, peer, and leader-led. Soft skills have come to the fore and are, by nature intrinsically harder to measure, as they are more subjective. Couple this with collaboratively agreed on outputs and outcomes, both team and individual. FEBRUARY 2021 |

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Organizations should focus on performance they expect in the current reality:

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Korn Ferry’s Mary Chua

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With changing business priorities and technological disruption, organizations need to re-define what is performance, 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, says Mary Chua of Korn Ferry By Mastufa Ahmed

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ary Chua is the Senior Client Partner, APAC Rewards & Benefits Practice Leader, Korn Ferry. Mary has extensive experience delivering large scale organizational and total reward transformation programs for both GLCs and multinationals in the region. In Malaysia, Mary has led several due diligence and post-merger integration projects, involving leadership assessments, cultural diagnostics and alignment, total reward program design, workforce transition planning, and employee | FEBRUARY 2021

communications and change management. She also has led multiple total rewards and performance management projects for more than 10 of the nation's largest GLCs and GLICs. Mary is an international HR practitioner with more than 20 years of consulting and corporate experience in Asia Pacific and Europe. She has experience in multiple industries including Banking, Insurance, Telecommunications, and Diversified Conglomerates. Within Malaysia, Mary has provided advisory to the nation's top Bursa-listed GLCs.

It's a long way to go in being more effective at measuring performance and managing productivity. A lot of the jobs today are “designed” to be based in the office, focused on activities and processes, and thus companies struggle to quantify productivity when jobs/work are delivered in a different setting Specializing in M&A and total rewards, she has helped organizations formulate their strategy on: optimizing reward spend to deliver on shareholder value, leveraging different incentive plans to drive sustainable performance, developing segmented reward programs for the multi-generational workforce to mitigate gaps in costs-perceived value, designing sales incentive programs to drive salesforce effectiveness and managing total rewards costs inflation.


Here are the edited excerpts.

tion patterns. Then there will be some who are seeking purpose and want that alignment in the jobs they do and the organizations they join. Needless to say, 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.

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Can remote work help in creating a more sustainable future of work? What have you learned from this pandemic? Prior to COVID-19, many of our clients in this region didn’t practice remote working. The pandemic has necessitated the introduction of a formal policy and organizations who have experienced the tangible benefits of such working arrangements (e.g. access to a greater pool of talent and savings from real estate) will continue. That said, remote working will not replace working in offices entirely. Some of the reasons could be constraints

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COVID-19 has brought in a major shift in how and where work gets done and it seems, the workplace is set to see a massive overhaul. What’s your take on this? While COVID-19 has brought about fundamental changes to the workplace, multiple mega-trends were already in play prior to COVID-19. The global pandemic has only amplified these trends and shown all of us what disruption truly means in every sense of the word – through its impact on economies and societies. 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 organizations 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 consump-

We have not heard of any company that does not want to have a continuous feedback culture or does not recognize the benefits of it. The gap is in the execution FEBRUARY 2021 |

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due to infrastructure, for instance, in some developing economies, stable broadband access may not be available across the country. In addition, for some economies where limited residential space is available, this simply does not allow an ideal set up for working from home.

Do you think, the disparity and inconsistency in measuring performance that existed pre-COVID have only amplified post-COVID? 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) versus why you do what you do (purpose and outcome). As such, during the pandemic where most employees have to work from home, a lot of organizations wondered how they

can measure productivity now that they cannot physically see their staff being at work. With changing business priorities and technological disruption, organizations need to re-define what is performance, 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. Obviously, the role of the people manager will be ever more crucial. Often, organizations 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.

What should be the top imperatives for leaders in the new reality of COVID-19 to

address the enormous short and long-term goals? As organizations try to navigate new realities, I would liken this to a marathon of sprints. The 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 recognize that financial performance is no longer the be-all-and-end-all. Are organizations shifting the needle on performance assessment and productivity management amid this uncertainty? Any study on this? I believe there is still a long way to go in being more effective at measuring performance and managing productivity. As mentioned earlier, a lot of the jobs today are “designed” to be based in the office, focused on activities and processes, and thus

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companies struggle to quantify productivity when jobs or work are delivered in a different setting. It is imperative to firstly, look at how work and jobs are changing and what is expected – obviously, we recognize this will be a mammoth task as organizations undergo transformation.

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 ties over finances are high, people managers need to enable and balance getting work done under significant constraints and being sensitive to their staff ’s circumstances and needs. At the same time, non-performance which might have been tolerated in the past must be addressed promptly and tough conversations need to be delivered, not dodged. In a recent study by Korn Ferry, organizations are also saying that they will need to do better at prioritizing initiatives and efforts going forward. At the crux of it, it is about picking and focusing on a few key things that will maximize the greatest outcomes. FEBRUARY 2021 |

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What are the top challenges of maintaining productivity and measuring performance rationally in an uncertain world with the majority of workers working virtually? 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. 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. As lockdown measures disrupt daily routines and anxie-

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How can companies commit to a continuous feedback culture and have clarity between assessment and development? We have not heard of any company that does not want to have a continuous feedback culture or does not recognize the benefits of it. The gap is in the execution. When everything is going well, it is very easy to sweep everything under the carpet – not holding managers accountable for people development, adding more headcount to address any inefficiencies, or re-assigning the non-performer to another part of the business. As resources get more limited and everyone is stretched, teams will be less forgiving of individuals who can’t or don’t carry their loads. People managers have a key part to play in facilitating this feedback process and critically, setting a healthy tone for feedback and continuous development comes hand in glove.

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Seven critical components of new performance management

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What many organizations think is performance management, is actually just a more elaborate form of goal setting. What then should an effective performance management system look like?

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By Clinton Wingrove

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he last year has brought huge challenges to the world, governments, organizations, and individuals. Whilst some have reacted well, others have not. Many organizations are still applying outdated performance management processes, despite mounting evidence that they damage the health of an organization and consume valuable resources that could be used for the greater good. Indeed, some of the fastest-growing technology sales are for products that track, record, and measure the on-screen activity of remote-working employees; that support outdated goal setting and episodic reviews; and for training that focuses on handling difficult conver| FEBRUARY 2021

sations. But, at last some have had a wake-up call and are now rising to the challenge and exploring better ways to manage performance, ones that tap into the inner motivations of each employee. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that some things simply aren’t simple. And, performance management is one of them. What most organizations refer to as performance management, simply isn’t performance management! It is only a simplified process of goal setting with some monitoring, reviewing, and evaluation. Isn’t that performance management? No, not anywhere near! Those are the minimum elements that an organization needs to be

What most organizations refer to as performance management, simply isn’t performance management! It is only a simplified process of goal setting with some monitoring, reviewing, and evaluation. Those are the minimum elements that an organization needs to be able to make decisions about people able to make decisions about people. But they will rarely have any substantial impact on cumulative performance. We have known for decades that, whether or not they are designed, documented, or even trained, all true performance management processes have seven components: 1. Setting direction 2. Clarifying roles 3. Planning and aligning 4. Monitoring and measuring 5. Enabling and enhancing 6. Assessing and evaluating 7. Rewarding and recognizing


of them; Assurance that, if they meet those, all will be well; Recognition for what they achieve and how they go about it; and Empathy or understanding of their circumstances. These organizations are also realizing the importance of conversations between managers and remote-working staff about the relative priorities of what they are asked to do, and about the authority, they have to make decisions themselves. Planning and aligning performance is about ensuring that every individual understands and is committed to meeting three types of expectations—WHAT they should deliver, HOW they should do that (in terms of behaviors, processes to be followed, and regulatory standards to be met), and the growth they should achieve (i.e., the development needed to meet current WHAT and HOW expectations, and to prepare for future ones). These expectations need to be understood and defined with each employee to a level of specificity according to their capability, their commitment, and their capacity, also known as the three 'C's' criteria. With many aspects of performance, upfront clarity is needed about the target, standard, and minimum acceptable levels. General criteria such as “5 FEBRUARY 2021 |

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direction. These organizations were able to adapt agilely, as staff could make informed judgments about priorities and where to focus their time. Other organizations have struggled and only now are investing reactively in providing clarity to their staff about what really matters. Clarifying roles is not merely about writing job descriptions. It is about ensuring that each individual understands the overall contributions that they are expected to make. In many cases, this is as much about clarifying the level of autonomy or empowerment as it is about defining precisely how they should operate. Many organizations are now realizing that employees want four things: Clarity, Assurance, Recognition, and Empathy. Clarity about their role and the expectations

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Typically, organizations focus on a single subset and do not take due account of the interactions between all of them. Setting direction is about ensuring that every one of our staff truly understands why the organization exists and why they are asked to perform in a certain way. It encompasses sharing the VISION (what the organization seeks to achieve), the MISSION (why and how it seeks to do so), the STRATEGY (the operational choices it has made), the VALUES (the standards by which it seeks to live and be judged), and the core COMPETENCIES (how it believes employees should best operate). Some organizations have been able to shine during the COVID-19 crisis—those whose staff clearly understood the organization's

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Many organizations are now realizing that employees want four things: Clarity, Assurance, Recognition, and Empathy. Clarity about their role and the expectations of them; Assurance that, if they meet those, all will be well; Recognition for what they achieve and how they go about it; and Empathy or understanding of their circumstances SMART Objectives” etc risk constraining top performers or providing insufficient clarity to poor performers or those in developmental stages. General organization-wide processes should be seen by managers as minimum requirements, not the best. Expectations should be calibrated for fairness at this stage—like setting a handicap before the metaphorical contest begins, not after the contest has ended. Monitoring and measuring is about ensuring that both the manager and

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the employee are engaged in monitoring and measuring all key aspects of performance (WHAT, HOW, and GROWTH). Only then will each individual receive sufficient, timely, and useful feedback to support improvement. This element also ensures that future assessment can be evidence-based. Enabling and enhancing is the key to performance management and oftentimes given insufficient attention. We know that every interaction between a manager and a member of staff can have a significant impact on

that individual’s motivation and performance. We also know that around 70 percent of capability is developed doing meaningful work and a further 20 percent by observing or interacting with others. Many employees state that, during the COVID-19 crisis and through the use of virtual platforms such as ZOOM, MSTeams, BlueJeans, and others, they have had more contact with their managers than ever before. Hopefully, this will continue with managers taking more time to interact one-on-one with each of their staff and using those myriad interactions throughout the year to enable and enhance their performance. Many managers are also only just learning the power of asking, “What can I do to help you to meet the expectations I have of you?” These conversations are the heart of performance management—exactly what managers are paid to do. Assessing and evaluating performance have always been confused. If expectations are defined, understood, and agreed upon sufficiently, assessment is an evidence-based, factual, and impersonal process that answers the question, “To what extent were the expectations met?” Evaluating on the other hand is about answering the question, “Considering all


even incur the unnecessary cost and lead to lower levels of employee engagement and performance. COVID-19 has demonstrated soundly the importance of timely, sincere, and personal recognition. Great managers are paying close attention to each of their staff, demonstrating consideration and empathy, asking about their wellness and feelings, keeping in close touch, and recognizing good performance. But, they are doing this as part of enabling and enhancing, during every day short conversations, not waiting

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” People are not simple and performance management simply isn’t simple. But, delivering on each of those seven components can be very easy. We just need to: • Prepare people for people management positions and equip them to decide if that is really what they want to do; • Select the right people for those positions based on their capability to manage people; • Recognize and reward top performers who are not

for some formal process or episodic review.

What's next?

COVID-19 has been a wakeup call. But it is not likely to be a singular event. The world is becoming more volatile and all organizations will face new crises. They may not be as substantial, but they will demand precisely the same skills. The above description of performance management may appear to be complex. But, as Albert Einstein said,

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COVID-19 has been a wake-up call. But it is not likely to be a singular event. The world is becoming more volatile and all organizations will face new crises. They may not be as substantial, but they will demand precisely the same skills

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of the circumstances, how good was the performance?” Factors such as external forces, changes in circumstances, complexity, matrix demands, etc then come into play and judgment becomes as significant as analysis. Evaluation demands that the manager is thoroughly conversant with all of those factors and courageous enough to make and stand by their judgments. Merging assessment and evaluation typically results in poorly calibrated evaluations that do not match with reality. COVID-19 is seriously exposing managers who do not have a firm grasp of how their staff are performing and of the difference between assessment and evaluation. The rapid increase in the use of technology to attempt to measure remote performance will hopefully be soon shown to be an inadequate solution. We have to upskill the managers. Rewarding and recognizing is about formal processes. Clearly, this element is important. However, many organizations still have to learn that linking pay and benefits to poor quality appraisal data; using financial incentives to try to improve performance; applying mechanized and impersonal recognition processes; and such practices not only do not improve overall performance but can

suited to being, or don’t want to be, people managers in ways other than just giving them people to manage; • Ensure that people managers understand what performance management really is, and hold them accountable for doing it. Simple!

Clinton Wingrove is the Director of www.WantToBeGreatManager.com and www.ClintonHR.com, Email: clinton.wingrove@WantToBeGreat.com FEBRUARY 2021 |

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Yogi Sriram

The dark side of the moon: Negative leadership behaviors to avoid

Just as there are many positive leadership qualities that make leaders great, there are many negative behaviors that drag a leader down. Leaders need to know these patterns and avoid them for the good of their followers and themselves

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Narcissism is the egotistic admiration of one's idealized self-image and attributes. While some say that narcissism is a part of the DNA of almost every leader, this quality is a blind spot for a leader

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e have all seen behavior that has illustrated to us the ugly side of leadership. Such negative workplace behaviors make followers feel small, disempowered, insecure, and weak. The more such negative behaviors are practiced, the more does the work environment becomes toxic for the followers. From observing these bad leadership behaviors, we can | FEBRUARY 2021

Super Moon day 2020, Yogi Sriram

reflect on patterns of our own leadership behaviors and try to avoid such behaviors that may have become embedded in our persona. Here are some such behaviors and traits to be wary of.

Blowing one’s own trumpet

Showing off is a trait that does not go down well. Some leaders seek public platforms and other stimuli to massage their ego. They

need to be seen on center stage all the time. But the only time a trumpet sounds good is when it is played in a military band, or in the famous “beating of the retreat” ceremony, a day after the Indian Republic Day celebrations.

Abuse of power

Flouting rules with impunity and the misuse of power and authority is unforgivable behavior by


those who are in a position to wield such power. It sets a bad precedent for followers, peers, and other colleagues. It dilutes discipline and spreads like a contagion. Leadership comes with responsibility: the responsibility to preserve the prestige of the position, the responsibility to ensure that privileges are not misused, and drawing the line between what one can do and what one cannot do. The adage, practice before you preach, is apt here.

Hubris

Some leaders flip the argument to suit the context. It is a form of justification arising from cognitive dissonance, to legitimize wrongdoing in one's own mind even if this overshadows one's moral and ethical compass. We have examples of many companies that have fallen from grace since the early 2000s because of leadership greed, avarice, and justifying actions that were fraudulent and dishonest.

Sycophancy

Some leaders are so consumed with themselves that they surround themselves with people who are generous with insincere flattery. The leader in such cases desires only to hear good things and will ignore or punish any criticism.

Narcissism

Narcissism is the egotistic admiration of one's idealized self-image and attributes. While some say that narcissism is a part of the

Hubris is the personality trait of excessive confidence or arrogance, which leads a person to believe that he or she may be never wrong. It can easily be recognized as a negative trait in those who dismiss other’s ideas and think they are entitled to do so because of the position they enjoy Selfishness

Leaders who are selfish protect themselves at the cost of followers. The trait of selfishness should be distinguished from competitiveness by attitude and outcome. The term “healthy competition” signifies fair play besides learning to lose gracefully, but selfish leaders do not bother about gracefulness or the consequences of their actions on followers.

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Hubris is the personality trait of excessive confidence or arrogance, which leads a person to believe that he or she may be never wrong. It can easily be recognized as a negative trait in those who dismiss other’s ideas and think they are entitled to do so because of the position they enjoy. Hubris can cause short-sighted, irrational, or harmful behavior since the person does not stop to examine the result of their behavior or consider the opinions of or effects on others. It is a distancing trait and pushes people away because it often humiliates those whom it is directed towards. It goes against a culture of generating new ideas, creativity, and continuous improvement. Hubris together with “groupthink” can be a deadly cocktail for flawed judgment.

Flipping the argument

DNA of almost every leader, this quality is a blind spot for a leader. Narcissistic leaders’ willingness to exploit others, their lack of empathy, and their selfcentered feelings of entitlement can wreak havoc in teams and severely harm interactions with others in organizations.

Dunning-Kruger effect

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which FEBRUARY 2021 |

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people with low ability overestimate their capability and cannot objectively evaluate their level of competence. It can give rise to an illusion of superiority. In leaders, it damages the capability to learn. Good leaders are good at the single loop and double loop learning. The DunningKruger effect shuts off both.

Refusal to stand back

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Standing back is about giving others the recognition they deserve, and not falsely claiming credit for their work. When a leader's successor is ready to

take over, standing back is about retreating into the background and admitting the successor graciously. When your successor is ready to take over. Leaders who refuse to stand back are unable to accept that someone is more appropriate than them for the position, and clinging to power will only do damage to their team and organization.

How can leaders avoid these negative behaviors?

Leaders need to understand that not many will tell the

When a leader can receive genuine feedback graciously and act on it to make themselves better, it is like illuminating the dark side of the moon

leader about what they see as negative behavior. Hence, leaders must make the effort to create an environment where feedback on their traits is shared honestly with them to make the leader more successful. When a leader can receive genuine feedback graciously and act on it to make themselves better, it is like illuminating the dark side of the moon. There is a form of leadership known as organizational stewardship, which is the willingness to take responsibility for the larger institution and work in the name of service instead of control and selfinterest. Stewardship is closely related to social responsibility, loyalty, and teamwork, and represents a feeling of identification and sense of obligation to a common good that includes self but stretches beyond one’s own self-interest. It is the opposite of the negative behaviors listed above and is a goal that leaders should strive towards.

Yogi Sriram is Advisor Group HR to CEO & MD, L&T 78

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Visty Banaji

The future of trade unions

Traditional trade unions seem unable to play the vital and beneficent roles they once did. What brought about this decline and how can they be reinvented in a totally different form?

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therefore, be a strange ‘‘shuturmurg’’ who cannot see the declining power and militancy of unions, not just in India, but around the world.

The Twilight of the Titans

In the Indian context, perhaps the longest-term trend cutting the ground out from under the feet of traditional unions is the growing proportion of the workforce with a distaste

for unionization. The bulk of the workforce is expanding, sunrise industries like Information Technology and financial services considers it infra dig even to become union members, leave aside depending on collective bargaining for salary increases and benefits. Agitation in the traditional manner would be unthinkable (as well as unsafe) for them. Simultaneously, in traditional industries, not only are

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The road less travelled

ntil the early eighties, managers in general and personnel managers in particular periodically went through moments of tension and ignominy at the hands of their workmen and union leaders. By the end of the eighties, however, the frequency of violence started coming down and industry breathed a sigh of relief. Some Industrial Relations (IR) managers even claimed the major part of the credit for taming rampaging unions. They actually deserved as much credit as the crow landing on a palm tree as it falls.1 Of course, there continue to be sporadic incidents of violence and vandalism, especially when the precariat sees no other resort and I have analyzed these earlier.2 The spontaneity of the conflagrations, however, confirms the lack (rather than the resurgence) of trusted and strong union leaderships that can sit eyeball-to-eyeball with managements and resolve worker demands. It would,

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gains through productivity, work intensification3, automation, and progressively, Artificial Intelligence, reducing the number of people in categories most susceptible to being unionized but the profiles of the retained permanent positions demand higher qualifications. This pulls these remnants too into the middle-class, with the union antipathy that marks that territory. In sheer numbers, though, manufacturing sector unions have lost most membership in recent years due to the addiction to contractualization that’s swept through Indian industry.4 Several observers feel union leaderships made insufficient effort to prevent the loss of permanent jobs and even less to organize contract labor. The latter aloofness made short-term sense because it permitted these union leaders to deliver ever-higher gains, to far fewer remaining members, much more easily. Less charitable interpretations point to the personal interest some leaders had in the emergent contracts or to the better returns their talents could command in altogether different pursuits and enterprises. Thus demography, technology, contractualization, and paucity of organizing talent conspired to reduce the base of unionizable employees to the point that it could hardly | FEBRUARY 2021

prove a threat in any denialof-work campaign. This brings us to the decreasing ‘‘bite’’ of most unions. Of course, one still sees some country-wide stoppages (usually by public sector unions) but these are mainly symbolic. The days of back- (and balance sheet-) breaking stoppages seem to be in the past. Ironically, it was the gigantism of just this kind of showdowns, maximally exemplified by the Bombay Textile

up better placed than before. Violent and bitter confrontations did continue for some years thereafter but in sheer scale (and, consequently, the sense of futility after failure) the Textile Strike touched a high-water mark. Coincidentally, at around the same time, on the opposite side of the globe as well, we were seeing "...a fundamental shift in the relationship between unions, employers, and the use of the strike. The strike has always been a gamble,

Shouldn’t we HR/IR professionals be celebrating the decline of those who were often our nemeses and gave us headaches and worse? When I posed this question to some of my HR friends, their unanimous answer was that they gained greatly from unions and mature union leaders Strike of 1982-835, that led to disenchantment with reckless (as well as disunited) union leaders and the industry-destroying consequences of such tactics. The hundreds of thousands of workers whose lives were destroyed by the Textile Strike were tragic proof that such à l’outrance’’ conflicts extinguished worker existences first and the units they worked in next, with the industry itself a possible third. Owners usually got off lightly and many ended

but... during the 1980s the odds of success became much steeper... As a result, what was once labor’s most powerful and prominent weapon in wage and benefit negotiations has nearly vanished from the American economic landscape."6 The loss of the strike as a credible threat was soon followed by another shattering blow to the united wall that unionized employees of a vertically integrated enterprise had been able to present. Prompted by the


mation Technology made the housing of operations under one legal entity unnecessary for ensuring adequate quality and control. The inevitable outcome was the fissure of workplaces on an unprecedented scale. "Fissured employment fundamentally changes the boundaries of firms – whether through subcontracting, third-party management, or franchising. By shifting work from the lead company outward … the company transforms wage setting into a pricing problem. ...[T]his pushes wages down for workers in the businesses now provid-

Whether we are sad or glad about it, toothed and clawed fighting unions are receding. What we need to think of now is whether they can be recreated without the characteristics that made many of them obnoxious to managements and unattractive even to potential members

ing services to the lead firm, while lowering the lead business’s direct costs. Fissuring results in redistribution away from workers and toward investors.’’7 More relevant to our ‘‘defanging’’ hypothesis, creating such a multiplicity of competing vending points made the damage caused by any one of them stopping (on account of industrial action or anything else) as inconsequential as a mosquito bite. On the positive side, businesses became more proficient in dealing with employees. In the last few decades, some of the worst dictatorial and humiliating practices on the shop-floors of large Indian corporates receded and supervisors in these workplaces became far more understanding and respectful of their teams. But this also meant fewer grievances to provide continuing grist to the union mill. In any case, for the bulk of the workforce, instead of supervisors and IR officers finding ways to motivate employees, it was the procurement officer who extracted work via the contractor. Even worse for unions, several managements kept their SDDB (Sama, Dama, Danda, and Bheda) powder dry for occasions when they found unions becoming troublesome. Another set of variables that reduced union clout was the Government, the politiFEBRUARY 2021 |

The road less travelled

incessant demands of shareholders to raise returns and of customers to lower prices, organization after organization chose to target the total payout to the third leg of the primary stakeholder tripod – employees. In India, liberalization and the flood of imports that followed made any attempt to protect total employee costs appear lifethreatening. Simultaneously, the unequivocal strategic advice from management gurus stressed core competencies, making integrated operations unfashionable if not untenable. And, finally, the strides taken by Infor-

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What good are unions for companies and employees?

The road less travelled

When I posed this question to some of my HR friends, their unanimous answer was that they gained greatly from unions and mature union leaders. They explained unions brought at least five benefits to their organizations: 1) Stopping unfair or underhand practices: Especially if the malpractice or Quixotism emanated from the CEO or promoter, short of quitting, even independent directors or the CHRO were helpless to counter it. A strong union had no such constraints.

In the last few decades, some of the worst dictatorial and humiliating practices on the shop-floors of large Indian corporates receded and supervisors in these workplaces became far more understanding and respectful of their teams cal parties who determine its actions, and the bureaucrats who implement them. The primacy accorded to economic growth, globalization, and attracting investment as well as the declining ability of unions to make a political impact (this too is true worldwide8) tilted these supposedly neutral protago-

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nists to the side of business. What helped ease of doing business brought dis-ease to union power. So, what’s the problem? Shouldn’t we HR/IR professionals be celebrating the decline of those who were often our nemeses and gave us headaches, ulcers, and worse?

2) Providing a sounding board: Experienced union leaders provided invaluable advice on the practicality and efficacy of the policies the company was contemplating as also suggesting new ideas of their own. 3) Two-way channels of communication: Messages conveyed through their own leaders had unequaled heft for workers. Similarly, grassroot leaders could point out true pain points that surveys were unable to pinpoint in a clamor-field of pinching shoes. 4) Taking up for the underdog: For the same reason that a defendant needs a lawyer, regardless of how impartial a judge maybe, a worker in trou-


ble was helped by a strong union, leaving HR to take a principled, neutral stance.

ing posts were thoughtlessly eliminated by consultants who flattened everything apart from their fees.

Plans must lead to action which, both for reasons of geographic dispersion and anonymity, need to be delivered through virtual teams and project management software

The road less travelled

I believe such succor is at hand and it can be delivered only by a thoughtful deployment of social media. This 5) Funneling diverse method of reinvention will employee needs into become increasingly potent coherent demands: Without Directly driven as the millennials become e-collectives a union, it would have been the majority in the workWhether we are sad or glad impossible to sift through force. But don’t employthe huge volume and dispar- about it, toothed and clawed ees communicate with each fighting unions are recedity of what people wanted other through platforms like and bring it to a manageable ing. What we need to think of WhatsApp and Facebook? now is whether they can be convergence. More imporrecreated without the charac- The integrated platform tantly, granting benefits proposed here far outstrips teristics that made many of that were not demanded by the capabilities of popularly employees would have made them obnoxious to manageused social media11 – which the entire process much costis not to say the technologies lier as well as irremediably for it don’t exist, just that patriarchal and, therefore, they haven’t been harnessed likely to backfire ultimately. in a Next-gen union combiUnions served a greater nation. An effective SMAUG social purpose as well. (Social Media Aided Union Over the decades when Group – resemblances to any they were a force to reckon dragon, fictional or futuriswith, unions played a key tic, are purely coincidental) role in limiting the differwould integrate the following entials between the highest features: and lowest paid employees9, 1) Attracting associates: which helped keep an unconThe platform should be able trolled GINI from tearing to host curated content, society apart. There is an convenient utilities, educaeye-opening (and watering) tive/interactive blogs, excitinteractive graph about India ing dialogues and adverin the World Inequality Data- ments and unattractive tise material benefits (see 9, base that shows how, soon even to potential members. below) to attract people to The new vehicle that operafter the de-weaponization visit and sign up. of unions began in the eight- ates between management and employees need not be a 2) Adjustable anonymies, the share of national ity: Unlike the real identity formal union but, whatever income captured by the top demanded by most social form it takes, should permit one percent started increasmedia platforms (and the confident, adult dialogue ing sharply and that reachsurveillance and personal that leads to collaboration ing the bottom 50 percent 10 information monetization12 for mutual benefit. It should started its decline. Unions also share the credit for keep- catalyze a movement toward which makes it feasible), SMAUG would leave employself-organization among ing progression paths open ees free to keep their identiemployees while generating for people at the Bottom of truly situational and sponta- ties anonymous until they the Pyramid. As their grip enter more closely circumweakened, intermediate stag- neous leaders. FEBRUARY 2021 |

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The road less travelled 84

scribed working groups. This would also go a long way to assuaging worries about retaliation by management in case they insert snooping stool pigeons in the general membership. 3) Information sharing: These wiki-type compendia would contain information that is normally inaccessible e.g. 'how-tos' for circumventing tedious processes and countering toxic managers.

5) Project Planning and Monitoring: Plans must lead to action which, both for reasons of geographic dispersion and anonymity, need to be delivered through virtual teams and project management software. SMAUG should, therefore, permit virtual team management and a Transactive Memory System.15 6) Integrating Demands & Common Grievances: In politics, where direct democracy is making a modest comeback, parties use "software that allows citizens to propose laws directly."16 Clearly the prospect is even more alluring with the smaller numbers in business organizations. SMAUG needs to be equipped with an algorithmic process to iteratively identify the most troublesome problems or the most desirable demands that need to be further refined or pushed with the management.

4) Limited Groups for Planning Strategy: The manner of identifying core groups will vary situationally but emergent leaders are likely to be those who put a premium on connectivity and participation13 rather than charisma and autocracy (incidentally thereby also giving women a greater opportunity to occupy these slots).14 Leaders and strategists will need secure, limited-participation, video interaction platforms where they can dialogue face-to-face and agree on plans and proj- 7) Interaction With Management: One can also ects. | FEBRUARY 2021

anticipate a situation where no individual wants to be identified as the one making demands to the management. SMAUG, therefore, needs to be able to provide an impersonal communication interface of the direct democracy convergences (mentioned in 6, above). The same interface, in the reverse direction, would be useful for sounding out employees, confidentially, on change initiatives or other proposals. 8) Fees and Finances: A payment gateway would be needed for any payments the collective wishes to get from associates. It should be accompanied by a transparent, real-time display of receipts, expenses, and investments. 9) Welfare: Managements are rapidly vacating the welfare terrain. Much goodwill can be picked up by the collective if it occupies the ceded ground under a 'self-help' banner. Choices are virtually limitless and could include credit societies, favorable deals for goods and services, cooperatives for family members to interact and earn as well as for children to showcase their talents and get recognized. 10) Retaliation: What possible use can a dragon be without teeth? I am not suggesting a return to the bad old days of industrial action which, in any case, would be unpalatable to the middle-


the back seat causes anguish at losing the steering wheel, they need to remind themselves that, without such a re-cast, they risk being pushed out of the vehicle altogether. Notes:

SMAUG can be a winwin-win development for corporates, their employees, and unions. Does this mean the day of the large national unions is over? Assuredly not. But they need to reinvent themselves for the people-empowered and tech-driven 21st century. There is no reason a platform of the kind described cannot be commissioned by the larger unions as part of their USP. Apart from saving individual employee collectives from having to incur development costs, it class mentality of today’s would also save the latter employees. All the same, the from criminal or civil proscollective needs to deliver (or ecution, should some shortthreaten) counterpunches sighted managements when there is no other choose to victimize associrecourse. Just the knowledge ates. These unions could that the collective’s inside also deploy the strategic, information can be leaked to legal, and other capabilithe public/regulators, that ties (say, in the running quality and productivity are of cooperatives) that they in the hands of employees have developed over the who also have the compeyears instead of allowing tence to create cyber picket these to atrophy as they are lines, can be a huge deterrent in danger of doing. If the to SDDB attacks. consequent occupation of

The road less travelled

If the consequent occupation of the back seat causes anguish at losing the steering wheel, they need to remind themselves that, without such a re-cast, they risk being pushed out of the vehicle altogether

1. Maurice Bloomfield, The Fable of the Crow and the Palm-Tree: A Psychic Motif in Hindu Fiction, The American Journal of Philology , 1919, Vol. 40, No. 1. 2. Visty Banaji, Employee Relations: The Hamartia of Human Resource Professionals in India, NHRD Network Journal, ‘Volume 4, Issue1, January 2011. 3. Kim Moody, On New Terrain: How Capital is Reshaping the Battleground of Class War, Haymarket Books, 2017. 4. Visty Banaji, Udta Udyog – Industry’s addiction to contract workers, 15 September 2016, (https://www.peoplematters.in/ article/temporary-and-contract-staffing/ udta-udyog-industrys-addiction-to-contract-workers-14090). 5. Rajni Bakshi, The Long Haul: The Bombay Textile Workers Strike of 1982-83, BUILD Documentation Collective, 1986. 6. Jake Rosenfeld, What Unions No Longer Do, Harvard University Press, 2014. 7. David Weil, The Fissured Workplace – Why Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It, Harvard University Press, 2017. 8. Roland Erne and Markus Blaser, Direct democracy and trade union action, Transfer: European Review of Labor and Research, April 2018. 9. Visty Banaji, But who will guard the guardians?, 14 March 2018, (https://www. peoplematters.in/article/compensationbenefits/can-runaway-increases-inexecutive-compensation-be-sloweddown-17720). 10. World Inequality Database, https://wid. world/country/india/. 11. Andreas M. Kaplan and Michael Haenlein, Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media, Business Horizons, 53, 59-68, 2010. 12. Lina Dencik and Oliver Leistert (Editors), Critical Perspectives on Social Media and Protest: Between Control and Emancipation, Rowman & Littlefield International, 2015. 13. Thomas Poell and José van Dijck, Social Media and new protest movements, in 'The SAGE Handbook of Social Media', Sage, 2018. 14. Jean Lipman-Blumen, Connective Leadership: What Business Needs to Learn from Academe, Change The Magazine of Higher Learning, 30(1):49-53. January 1998. 15. Hritik Gupta, Social media usage and its effect on virtual team dynamics: a Transactive Memory System approach, A thesis submitted to the University of Canterbury in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, 2015. 16. Nathan Gardels, It’s time to rethink democracy, Washington Post, 23 March 2018.

Visty Banaji is the Founder and CEO of Banner Global Consulting (BGC) FEBRUARY 2021 |

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Focus on organizational goal achievement versus goal measurement:

i n t e r v i e w

Akanksha Sane, PTC Software

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People are now being valued for their skills and contribution and not for their place in the hierarchy. The COVID situation has been a great equalizer in many ways, believes Akanksha Sane, Senior Director- India HR Delivery at PTC Software By Shweta Modgil

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OVID-19 has changed everything, with organizations remodeling every function to adapt to the changing landscape with new processes. Organizations are already making adjustments to goal setting and ratings while communicating to their employees that they are valued and important. In the current hybrid/ work from home scenario, talent leaders have the responsibility to ensure optimum productivity of their employees. Top leaders today agree that the performance | FEBRUARY 2021

management system should be reinvented and recalibrated for better-aligned results especially after the COVID-19 crisis. But how exactly can HR leaders make performance management more useful this year and in the years to come? In an exclusive interaction with us, Akanksha Sane, Senior Director- India

HR Delivery at PTC Software, a computer software, and services company headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts employing over 6,000 employees in 30 countries, shares with us her thoughts on the new paradigms of performance and productivity management in the second year of the pandemic.


that’s not going to change. In terms of defining and measuring productivity, one of the things organizations used to talk about was co-location and how being in the office helps. But the situation has brought about a change-co-location is not something people are going to talk about in the long run. As long as you have more connected teams and flatter, collaborative work models, more interconnected or matrixed organizations, those will do obviously do well. And that’s how you will be measuring productivity also it may be not just that one source or just your manager deciding the same. It will be a set of people who you are interacting with as you have to collaborate more. Annual appraisals will not be the only measuring yardstick. While business

priorities will keep changing and the goalposts will keep shifting, you will need to have shorter milestones, more frequent discussions on performance and productivity. You also need to celebrate these quick wins. One has to be agile-and these are all part of the agile philosophy. Similarly, softer skills like communicating, ability to change, multi-tasking, ability to work under pressure, or work in a remote setting will also assume greater importance.

What should be the key components of the new framework of continuous assessment? I would say that keep your goals simple, measurable and you need to tell people what they exactly need to do. Don’t beat around the bush. Be agile-

i n t e r v i e w

What are some of the paradigm shifts in performance management that COVID-19 has brought about? The greatest paradigm shift that has been brought about is flexibility. Today, people can work from anywhere, and at the end of the day, it’s about getting the job done, and doing it well. The other change about empowering the entrylevel or first rung of people managers in a lot of organizations-ensuring that more dialogues happen and more empowerment goes down the line. That’s freed up bandwidth for people at the top to focus on more challenging things. Another shift has been towards a high focus on creativity and value-adding work. There is also revisiting of incentives and compensation structures -it more about equities, RSUs which were earlier not doled out to large parts of the organization. More importantly, people are being valued for their skills and contribution and not for their place in the hierarchy. This situation has been a great equalizer in many ways. How should organizations define and measure productivity amid changing business priorities? You will always have an organizational strategy and objective or an end goal

FEBRUARY 2021 |

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it’s a practice that’s growing leaps and bounds outside the IT industry. Ongoing conversations, real time feedback, and coaching conversations which are more in the hour are better and will become important. I think the focus should be on organizational goal achievement versus goal measurement. This means you will probably look at the larger teams and if the team is achieving something, you will probably tick all the boxes versus an individual doing things. So there will a greater focus on team

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cate 8-9 hours. Hierarchies will definitely go-it’s going to be more task-based and agile teams. Some of our biases-such as working out of the office is great-may not hold true in the future. Be it men or women- everyone will get a level playing field now. We will have to learn and unlearn- a lot of data we were using for measuring productivity came from many years of baselining. Now that baseline itself will change. Organizations will have to be a little patient to do that baselining again and

A lot of data we were using for measuring productivity came from many years of baselining. Now that baseline itself will change. Organizations will have to be a little patient to do that baselining again and accordingly, outcomes will change achievement rather than goal measurement.

accordingly, your outcomes will change.

What are some of the practices in performance management that need to be let go in this new world of work? Rigidity will obviously not work in this new world. A lot of people were not able to work properly during these times due to bandwidth issues or care issues. You cannot be rigid now and say that I want you to dedi| FEBRUARY 2021

How should HR leaders focus on making performance management more useful this year and in the years to come? Earlier you would get your goals at the beginning of the year and stick to the same. Sometimes, you were not even allowed to change your goals in between. I think all of that will go out

of the window. Now, if you have projects, those will be broken down into tasks, and those tasks into actions. This is how granular it will get. Also, you will not see very standard cycles of increment- you will see more of them happening through the year. If there cannot be one cycle of performance evaluation, obviously there can’t be just one cycle of increment. Another thing that will happen is people having the flexibility of deciding their benefits, which wasn’t the trend earlier. All of these will have a positive impact on productivity and performance, coupled with the renewed focus on wellness brought about by COVID-19.

What would be your one piece of advice to the HR fraternity when it comes to performance management for 2021? I would say just be flexibledon’t have very rigid structures because you really don’t know what’s happening with people on the other side. A little up or down in performance does not mean the end of the world. As HR leaders, we need to be more empathetic. If you can do one extra thing for the person, do that instead of saying that it does not fall in our process or does not conform to our norms. By doing that one little thing for your employees, you can do wonders for them.


Dr. M. Muneer

Shouldn’t companies manage stakeholder interests? Without the welfare of stakeholders (employees, customers, suppliers, communities, and society at large), businesses will soon find a bottom and pushback

that the soul of capitalism was dead). Add to that the everincreasing corruption at every level (from containment zone management to vaccine tourism) and the growing poverty (80 crore Indians were identified for free ration by the Prime Minister himself). Without the welfare of stakeholders (employees, customers, suppliers, communities, and society at large), businesses will soon find a bottom and pushback. The concept of maximizing “shared” value

is finding currency in many developed economies ever since the 2008 financial meltdown and several billionaires across the world are showing commitment to it. Not much of that is visible in India though. Take for instance how one of the biggest shareholder wealth creators in India made a big show of donating Rs 500 Cr to the PM CARES Fund only to announce within the week unilatFEBRUARY 2021 |

Stakeholder Governance

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ost enterprises run on the fundamental principle of maximizing shareholder value. The exploitative capitalism is ever pervasive even in a pandemic setback. Questions have been raised now in the wake of vaccine-resistant, mutative COVID-19 whether it has become a panacea for over-exploitation – of labor, environment, the poor, women, lower castes, etc. It seems not many businesses are in a hurry to prove Ayn Rand wrong. (She had stated

The concept of maximizing “shared” value is finding currency in many developed economies ever since the 2008 financial meltdown and several billionaires across the world are showing commitment to it

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Stakeholder Governance 90

eral wage cuts citing lack of funds. Clearly, it was a show for PR and a probable quidpro-quo from government/ policymakers. How could a board approve donations when the enterprise didn’t have the resources to pay salaries to their own employees who toil long hours and suffer stress-related chronic illnesses? Where is the governance these directors are supposed to do? Perhaps this reluctance to share the wealth with stakeholders prompted the Indian government to statutorily mandate a social responsibility tax on corporates. India seems to be the first and only country in the world to do so which raises the question of why Indians have a tight fist. Currently, over 60 percent of our population is considered to be below the poverty line, receiving free food supplies, while the rich increased their wealth by as much as 35 percent, which happens to be much higher than the 23 percent crash in India’s GDP. As with most regulatory and legal things in India, the problem with the CSR rule is that enforcement has never been a strong virtue. No statutory audit of CSR spends is done and so most companies and their promoters find ways to divert these funds back to their own pockets by way of setting up own trusts and foundations. Surprisingly, the government has allowed this to flourish. | FEBRUARY 2021

The number of companies having their own trusts and foundations has gone up ever since the CSR rules came into effect in 2014 and is growing every year. This is drying up the funding for genuine non-profit organizations that do dedicated lastmile fulfillment. Prior to 2014, how many Indian companies had in-house foundations for social outreach? How come companies found a sudden passion for social responsibility post-2014? Why are many of them doing their own social work now even though it’s not their core competency? Are they expecting to add better value or lower costs of implementation by doing the CSR work themselves? If they cannot do either, why wouldn’t they outsource this to NGOs, in a similar way they would do with their business processes? The

government should ban CSR spending by in-house trusts with retrospective effect to ensure that social impact is sacrosanct for CSR. The Economic Times had reported sometime back how middlemen operate for a handsome commission to take out the CSR funds transferred to an in-house trust as cash and manage the eventual payback to the promoters. No wonder why so little development is visible on the ground despite claims of thousands of crores supposedly spent under CSR. The misplaced wisdom of maximizing shareholder wealth is also evident in another area: Share buybacks. In 2019, over 60 Indian companies bought back shares, but in a crisis like what we face today, if they don’t have cash reserves to support employees, layoffs and pay cuts are likely. It will be interesting to see how


performed on these pledges turned out to be a mixed bag. The biggest stumbling block was timing. In the many of these companies late summer of 2019, no one actually increased wealth anticipated that the next for shareholders once the current financial year closes. year would bring a crippling global pandemic, a crashing Shouldn’t the board of economy, riots in American directors be cognizant of all cities, and the current level these issues and be made responsible and accountable? of world political brinksmanship. When corporations A year ago, several US face sudden shutdowns, cash corporate heavyweights drains, and massive uncervowed to stakeholder capitalism and address the inter- tainty, social responsibility becomes the first casualty. ests of employees, commuThe original plan was nities, the larger public, that they would adopt the etc as opposed to the tradisomewhat-vague goals to tional narrow focus on suit their business strateshareholders. Some 180 gies. Yet, none had published marquee companies including Amazon, BankAm, Ford, their own “here’s how we plan to do it” stakeholder and Walmart committed to empowerment details. A pare their CEO/median pay ratios, aim for a longer-term journey without roadmaps shared-value focus, and build tends to never leave the driveway just as a journey the interests of suppliers, without a destination will employees, and the environalways let you claim wherment into their governance. ever you reach as the destiOne year later, a review nation. Sounds familiar? of how well they have

If the CEOs signing the stakeholder statement were serious, why hadn’t their boards joined in with endorsements and targetted calls for action? Why didn’t they insist on specifics? 2020 has made the call for stakeholder governance shriller. Companies are forcing employees to sacrifice by asking them to work remotely from homes that aren’t designed for it and to accept pay cuts. All of these are more realistic with employees treated more like stakeholders. Suppliers and customers are in real danger of failure and need help. Let’s hope that businesses will share the responsibility for the ill-health of society and the economy.

Stakeholder Governance

2020 has made the call for stakeholder governance shriller. Companies are forcing employees to sacrifice by asking them to work remotely from homes that aren’t designed for it and to accept pay cuts

(With inputs from Ralph Ward) Muneer is co-founder of the nonprofit Medici Institute and a stakeholder in the Silicon-Valley based deep-tech enterprise Rezonent Corp. Twitter @MuneerMuh FEBRUARY 2021 |

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Sandeep Nath

2020: The year the mask was removed

2020 saw us all wearing masks, but it also gave us the opportunity to unmask the insecurities and blind spots in how we go about our lives, and do something about them

He alth & We ll-Be ing

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es… yes, that WAS the year you started wearing the mask. But humanity? In 2020 our species finally, courageously, ceased to conceal and deny our insecurities. Finally, in 2020 humanity began to admit that stress exists. That mental health issues are real. That medicine has limitations. That offices and expensive real estate are avoidable. That schooling systems can be re-examined. That most of what we have grown to accept as ‘the way it is done’ can be changed. 2020 signaled the renewal of entrepreneurship. Of family and caring. Of introspection and mindfulness (even if only about masks and sanitizers, to begin with). Of changing the man-made systems that have stopped serving us. 2020 demonstrated the power our individual will has on stopping the destruction of the planet. On saving the environment and the ecological balance. We have seen the blue skies and free dolphins and deer. But we have only just about scratched the surface of the reality. Within our species, there is strife. ‘’Black Lives Matter’’ unmasked one such conflict

| FEBRUARY 2021

as millions stepped forward to call out division and injustice. But what about the lives of those humans who practically stand at the bottom of the human socio-economic chain, who underpinned our survival last year? The delivery persons, the garbage collectors, sewage inspectors, firefighters, and the medical support staff, to name a few? What have we done beyond sporadic lip service in praise of their courage? How long will we continue to don the social mask and deny that we win the war because of these nails, which fasten the shoes to the horses we ride? Can 2021 further unmask the pivotal role of these brave men and women? Can we at least meet them midway and start becoming more participative and selfsufficient? Can we, for example, greet the delivery persons at our gates instead of expecting them to wait at our doors? Can we separate our organic and non-organic garbage and wash away stuck food from the foil trays before throwing them into the bags for non-organic trash? Can we reduce the inci-

dences of fire by living more mindfully? Can we learn to self-regulate our health and lifestyle, so we do not weigh the medical system down with avoidable conditions? Can we start to resolve to be more appreciative, more helpful, more grateful all around? If we can take this step towards our common humanity, we will unveil the power of individual consumer choice on reshaping global economies and political structures. We will stop being masked behind outward-facing gadgets, tools, and social conditioning and start developing a more robust human connection. We will begin mending our oneness with nature and bring ourselves to become a part of it, the way we were designed. We will stop thinking of progress as our ability to replace ourselves and instead think of it as our ability to restore pristine natural balance. Let the unmasking continue.

Sandeep Nath is a certified Mindfulness Coach, Reiki Master and Qigong Guide.


Dr. Y Shekar

The sound of skills In the late nineties, management guru Gary Hamel popularized the concept of ‘core competency'. As per this concept, organizations were expected to focus on what they were good at and outsource everything else

W

HR S t r a t e g y

hen the Science teacher in school taught ‘‘Sound’’, for the first time I heard the term ‘‘rarefaction’’. It is that phase where the waves are widely dispersed and cover a lot of distance but are not decipherable. This is followed by a phase of highly contracted waves called ‘‘condensation’’. This is where the audio can be deciphered. It is the alternating rarefaction and condensation phenomenon that lets sound waves travel in space and be audible too. Honestly, I understood this phenomenon only much later in life! There was this odd occasion when I came in my father’s direct ‘‘line of sight’’. Appearing to be busy, I whizzed past him without making any eye contact. He stopped me and asked, “What are your hobbies?” Self: “er, I play” Father: “That’s an extracurricular activity. What are your interests?” Self: “I am quite busy with my current activities. I have no time for hobbies.”

Father: “You need to develop some hobbies. They will be useful when you retire.” Self (in the mind): “retire? I haven’t even started my career. Why should I think about retirement now?”

Era of core competency & specialization In the late nineties, when the Internet was emerging as an option for conducting business transactions, management guru Gary Hamel popularized the concept of ‘‘core competency’’. As per this concept, organizations

were expected to focus on what they were good at and outsource everything else. By doing so, they will achieve specialization and will be able to compete in the global market that was emerging on account of the Internet. Accidentally, India became the back-office for the world – call centers, contract manufacturing, 3rd party logistics, and several other companies emerged, offering specialized services and were called as Industry Verticals. With the advent of the Internet, business models started to change, and when FEBRUARY 2021 |

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S t r a t e g y HR 94

business online, it became essential to dream about global leadership. Jobs opened up for ‘‘specialists’’ at workplaces. Deep knowledge in a given subject backed by relevant experience became the criteria for advancing one’s career. Specialists, who fitted into a well-defined role, designated as ‘‘subject matter expert’’ (SME) were lured with astonishing salaries and perquisites. ‘‘Been there, done that’’, was the visa for getting hired. Such became the need for specialization that even the B-schools started offering career-oriented courses – MBA in banking, retail, insurance, software project management, etc. Young professionals entering the industry were putting in a substantial number of hours at work to learn from the changing times. They were in pursuit of developing in-depth knowledge in their specific roles and were left with no time to pursue anything else. For instance, a salesman’s hobby was to network in the industry and develop more meaningful contacts that he met during events and in social gatherings. The potential CFO was spending time understanding the new global financial policies, the standards for compliance, and reporting revenues. Likewise, the Operations and HR head | FEBRUARY 2021

were certifying themselves in six sigma, total quality management, and as specialists in compensation and benefits, employee retention, etc. Everyone was specializing in one chosen area and developing themselves for the global market.

From information technology to invasive technology Over the last two decades, technology has made deep inroads into our lives. Social media, pervasive connectiv-

consume what kind of product or service based on her past interactions. Technology is invasive – we are now like a goldfish in the glass bowl – everything about us is already known and technology is enabling someone to use that information to induce us with a seemingly compelling offer!

Diversity in the digital era The work-from-home concept has coalesced professional and personal

Like Sound waves, skills in careers also follow the pattern of rarefaction and condensation. From general management to functional experts to multi-disciplinary skills, management, and leadership traits have been transformed over time ity through the cloud, and the all-purpose device called the mobile phone have made access to information far easier. Data became Daataa (God), and gave rise to new business opportunities that we are now familiar with. Insights from the analysis of voluminous data started to drive business strategies toward ''hyper-personalization'' – where products and services appear to be personalized by using data models that predicted which customer is likely to

identities. As professionals, we are expected to ‘‘manage’’ both responsibilities effectively. While everyone seeks to stay focused and organized, the routine day’s work has several distractions and surprises for one to deal with. It is clear, managers and business leaders are not solving an already solved problem by mere adaptation of the solution. The daily problems are different, vague, and most often, unprecedented. ‘‘What is the cause of a poor


ends of the same spectrum almost at the same time. ‘‘Expertise’’ in multiple areas will be required. Such expertise develops over a period of time through experiencing and periodic reskilling. Dealing with new challenges will give newer insights which will provide inputs to new ways of solving an emerging problem.

The sound of skilling

S t r a t e g y

The sound wave’s pattern of rarefaction and condensation is a ‘‘sound’’ example for us to look at. A couple of decades back, we were taught, advised, and even nudged to stay focused in one area – the ‘‘stick to your knitting’’ approach paid high dividends. This was the condensation phase of professional careers. In the digital era, and especially in the coming decade, specific expertise will come to us from technologies and we, human beings, will have to be broad-based – working as a generalist. It is the rarefaction phase that carries us through a distance. Adaptability and agility of the mind will be critical skills and the ability to deal with diverse topics will be richly rewarded. By developing hobbies, we develop our abilities to deal with apparently diverse topics. Hobbies are activities of interest that lead us to think creatively

and purposefully. Hobbies, however practical, are emotionally fulfilling activities and develop our capabilities to accept and deal with the inexplicable, the irrational, and the inevitable. It’s never too late to start a hobby! Like Sound waves, skills in careers also follow the pattern of rarefaction and condensation. From general management to functional experts to multidisciplinary skills, management, and leadership traits have been transformed over time. Experts indicate that skills have taken shapes of ‘I’, ‘T’ and. In the future, will it be the shape of a comb? Perhaps yes! However, I believe it to be like the piano – there are the high and low notes, the melody, and harmony. While no two keys produce the same sound, each one by itself is an expert in creating a sound. When orchestrated, the same piano keys produce music. That’s what we need to do in the coming decade – learn to skill ourselves mentally and emotionally, through formal training, and hobbies. Wishing you a wonderful decade ahead!

HR

customer experience?’’ requires the customer experience manager to know the entire process from sourcing to delivery and then about the usage, to attempt offering a solution. Business challenges have also become very complex. Solving them requires multiple skill sets – the ability to visualize the big picture; the impact of the solution on people, environment, regulatory authorities, and competition; a multi-disciplinary approach to harmonize processes across functions, and a capability to apply creative knowledge onto logical thinking. This can be the responsibility of a team in an organization. However, every member of the team is expected to know the ‘end-to-end’ process in order to propose a well-optimized solution. While SME is relevant, the individual also now needs to be able to connect the dots beyond the subject to arrive at a solution. Future is HuTech – Human beings and Technology will be working together. This will affect a new bio-rhythm in human beings relating to thinking and doing. Human beings will need to be creative and logical, practical, and emotional, focused on the long term while producing results in the short term... It is like managing two

Dr. Y Shekar is a researcher with over three decades of corporate experience in IT. He currently heads the Centre for Digital Enterprise (CDE) at IIM Udaipur. FEBRUARY 2021 |

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Past Month's events

Knowledge + Networking

People Matters Talent Leaders Confluence Malaysia People Matters 21st January 2021 Online It is half-day virtual interactive sessions for an exclusive group of 80100 senior HR and talent leaders, passionate about people & work that come together to network, learn and contribute on topics that are most apt as per the talent trends the HR leaders are seeing emerge in their respective countries. We have some star speakers joining us from organizations like Axiata, S P Setia Berhad, TDCX, and more.

Preparing for the upcoming 'Skills Shift' People Matters

& Degreed 14th January 2021 Online (SEA) The new world of work that we are catering to is seeing new shifts every day. Organizations need to be all armed for these shifts and ensuring that it does not affect the business continuity and employee productivity. Keeping the employees updated with the current skills set requirement is the need of the hour. 96

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Employee Engagement through L&D – Strategizing for 2021 & Beyond People Matters & UpsideLMS 21st January 2021 Online This live webinar in association with UpsideLMS where our speakers discussed how learning and development can be a great enabler in boosting employee engagement in the coming years. The session delved into understanding Employee Engagement in the new normal and how learning and development is a critical element of EE.

Preparing for the upcoming 'Skills Shift' People Matters

& Degreed 13th January 2021 Online (India) The new world of work that we are catering to is seeing new shifts every day. Organizations need to be all armed for these shifts and ensuring that it does not affect the business continuity and employee productivity. Keeping the employees updated with the current skills set requirement is the need of the hour. But are organizations game for it?

The HR Agenda 2021: Critical Strategies to Prepare for the Future People Matters & PeopleStrong 19th January 2021 Online Technological advancements have redefined the idea of “best practices” in almost all operations, including human resource management. This unstoppable force gained further momentum with the COVID-19 pandemic, which upended the priorities of HR leaders worldwide.

Managing Distributed Teams: What are the challenges? People Matters BeNext 12th January 2021 Online A recent Gartner survey shows that 80% of leaders plan to allow employees to work remotely at least part time postpandemic, and 47% will allow full time work-fromhome. In this session, we discussed the challenges of building, managing and engaging remote teams and why is it important to recognise and resolve them?


Upcoming events New Workplace Operating Models in HR

People Matters

& Sirva 24th February 2021 Online The wave of pandemic has brought up several instances wherein the organizations are bound to relook at their existing policies and strategies. Talent mobility is one of those crucial pointers which took a 360 shift. With WFH and remote working becoming the norms for each one of us, what does 2021 entails? How will organizations look at ‘return to office’?

Preparing for the upcoming 'Skills Shift' People Matters & Degreed 26th February 2021 Online How will organizations look at the shifting nature of skill development? Is learning and development your top priority for your employees? With the onset of 2021, offices have slowly started to resume, will skilling still be a major priority for us? Join us to find out more about the major developments in this space and how you can prepare for the best.

People Matters LnD SEA Conference People Matters 4th March 2021 Online In the digital transformation journey, having a detailed talent development roadmap will be as critical as having a technology one. Articulating critical skills for recovery, building the base of future digital skills,

reimagining training at a scale in a distant world, and bringing on an experimentative mindset is the base to Rev-Up Growth for individuals, Organizations and economies. This Conference will bring our community together to help us reflect and find collective answers to one big question: How do we Rev-Up

Knowledge + Networking

People Matters & Oracle 18th February 2021 Online The new world of work that we are catering to is seeing new shifts everyday. Organizations need to be all armed for these shifts and ensuring that it does not affect the business continuity and employee productivity. The operating model across industries and organizations need to take a 360 degree shift. But are organizations game for it?

Talent mobility: Lessons from 2020 and what's ahead in 2021?

Growth through capability, through change interventions and through culture in a time of uncertainty, chaos, and disruption? In that exchange, we will charge up clarity, shed light, and uncover a new roadmap to build the foundation of a capability-driven business strategy for growth.

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Blogosphere

>> Mimi Nicklin

Is ‘empathy’ the HR Director's new secret sauce?

b lo g o s p he r e

Empathetic engagement at work has become table stakes for the millennialdriven workforce in the year that has passed, and employee engagement is no longer a nice to have but a prerequisite for operational success in 2021

S

ome predictions today believe that in 2021 we will see the biggest collapse of mental health in recorded memory. As we all increasingly focus on the role of the COVID-19 vaccine we must not forget that there is no vaccine for our mental health, and yet these health issues are equally likely to be impacting our teams and organizations in the year ahead.

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According to Deloitte, eighty-five percent of employees around the world already confirm themselves as “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” from their jobs. It rationally follows therefore that a surge in anxiety, depression, and burnout threatens to unbalance the very fabric our businesses are built on; our people. Balancing humanism and capitalism is still a relatively

new concept for many executive teams in India however the employee requirement to speed up this conversation is moving from important to critical. Employee opinion and endurance surrounding workplace health and performance, and how these intersect, means that senior leadership teams can no longer wait to prompt a shift in organizational empathy levels. Empathetic engagement at work has become table stakes for the millennial driven workforce in the year that has passed, and employee engagement is no longer a nice to have but a prerequisite for operational success in 2021. Achieving this shift is not yet as fast as this dynamic empowered workforce would like it to be. According to the recent ‘’Businessolver 2020 State of Workplace Empathy Survey’’ there is


As we face the realities ahead in 2021 it will be the HR teams that embrace a higher order set of cultural team traits that will generate the levels of trust and loyalty required to future-proof their workforce As 2021 opens with further disruption to our world we are all being driven by the need for leadership that goes beyond the rational, and proves connection with staff on a far more authentic and motivating level, within a context that values holistic employee health. Regenerative Leadership, leadership that heroes team morale, and its relation to output, is now the new normal. For the

senior leaders, this move to repurpose their culture and processes is an intense one and it will be vastly reliant on HR teams and systems to create the pathway for this shift. From the initial mapping of current organizational empathy to the road maps to roll out corporate understanding as a cultural currency at scale, HR teams will be responsible for turning this employee need state into a business status quo. As we face the realities ahead in 2021 it will be the HR teams that embrace a higher order set of cultural team traits that will generate the levels of trust and loyalty required to futureproof their workforce. Understanding of our colleagues and teams is no longer a nice to have but a mandate for staff and stakeholders equally. A secret sauce, or the source of all corporate human potential? Either way, without empathy being deeply baked into our strategic priorities for 2021, as a baseline requirement across all teams and industries, we won’t only lose out to dwindling performance levels from our teams, but we might lose each other entirely.

b lo g o sp he r e

still a wide gap between the C-suite’s definition and ability to execute an empathy shift to make it in line with their team's expectation to do so. The report highlights that whilst 91 percent of CEOs say their company is already “empathetic”, only 68 percent of their employees agree! There is a clear gap, an empathy gap, in the understanding as to what this shift truly means for organizational behavior. Also of note is that beyond levels of motivation and morale this same report showed that 78 percent of employees stated that higher empathy directly leads to greater motivation, and 76 percent said it resulted in greater productivity. Employees who feel seen, heard and recognized, perform better, think more strategically, and stay in their roles longer. The picture paints a very strong case for HR teams to move empathy indexing and training far higher up the agenda as they map the months ahead. As the new requirement for empathy at work fast tracks ever forward, the necessity to expand on the types of programs that train this skill set will be 2021’s greatest HR shift. We will now need programs that teach and embed these emotional intelligence skills as well as establish them within the KPI and appraisal systems.

Mimi Nicklin is the Bestselling Author of Softening The Edge FEBRUARY 2021 |

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RNI Details: Vol. XII, Issue No. 2, R.N.I. No. HARENG/2010/33504. Price Per Copy: Rs. 150/- Printed and Published by Mahesh Kumar on behalf of People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd. Published at 501, 5th Floor, Millennium Plaza, Tower A, Sushant Lok-1, Sector-27, Gurgaon - 122009, Haryana, India. Printed at Polykam Offset, C-138, Phase - I, Naraina Industrial Area, New Delhi - 110028. Editor: Esther Martinez Hernandez

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People Matters: Outlook 2021 - February 2021