Why the age of flexibility demands agile reviews

A VUCAD world demands more flexibility and a constant need to review, improvise and implement fresh strategies

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Annual reviews are often dreaded, just as much as tracking expenses after splurging on retail therapy. As overwhelming as any kind of review may seem, taking a ‘bite-sized’ approach to boost productivity promotes more agility.

Existing in the volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous and digital (VUCAD) world of today, agile reviews are the new norm for some, and an ongoing habit for others, with small tweaks needed to adjust to a changing workplace.

“We need to keep pace with time, and goals have changed from what people set this year,” says Tanvi Choksi, HR head India and JLL Business Services Global. For some companies, such as JLL, agile practices have been a habit with more returns being seen in 2020.

Others have adopted it just this year, after the formal touch points set at the beginning of the year backfired with the onset of the pandemic. To resuscitate their business, many companies, such as Jindal Stainless, have developed a new model to transform their functioning. Agility is the way forward and this has percolated to employee surveys, with frequent interactions between managers and employees being the new norm.


Tanvi Choksi

“With agile reviews, it’s not just the manager, but even the stakeholders that are giving 360 feedback.”

 


The shift to agile management brings in inclusivity and helps organisations nip problems in the bud, minus the weight of the time wasted scrutinising a year’s worth of employee records. An employee may be consistently making mistakes even without realising it, in the absence of a supervisor checking in frequently. This hampers productivity, no doubt, but can be extremely demotivating for newer employees who fail to grasp their mistakes. Keeping employees at the helm will not only boost their morale, but also help train more efficient managers.

“The issues differ for different employees, say for those who have been in the company for 30 days and those that have already been in the system for a long time,” says Anish Philip, CHRO at Marlabs Inc. Indeed, they do, and an agile review system helps the HR team prioritise issues and divide their attention accordingly. With a differential focus-attention approach, freshers who join can get more attention and care as they require.


Abhay Srivastava

“There is more employee-wellbeing (taken into consideration) from where we started, in the last six months.”

 


Of course, technology has a big part to play in sustaining frequent reviews and facilitating manager-employee interactions. Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) have been instrumental in bolstering agility. Workday, and other such HRIS software, are no longer restricted to desktops, but can be accessed through tablets and cellphones, which further makes it easier to record the performance review of employees without the hassle of sitting at a desk.

Integration is key to adopting this frequent and flexible way of going forward with employee surveys. Stakeholders of a company are being roped in as well. “With agile reviews, it’s not just the manager, but even the stakeholders that are giving 360 feedback (and we are) also configuring stakeholder feedback,” added Choksi. More inclusivity is a definitive indicator of a healthier work environment.

There are more benefits to an agile review system, as employees become central to an enterprise. Abhay Srivastava, CHRO, IKS Health, adds, “There is more employee-wellbeing (taken into consideration) from where we started, in the last six months.” Managers are playing an important role to monitor employees, with monthly meetings becoming the norm, interspersed with weekly interaction.


Anish Philip

“The issues differ for different employees, say for those who have been in the company for 30 days and those that have already been in the system for a long time.”


Productivity is definitely a direct product of an agile review system. One-on-one engagement makes the employees feel valued and is the basis for their growth and the company’s as well. There is always a tendency for employees to be unproductive when watchful eyes are absent. With frequent reviews, employees are in check, feel valued and more than often contribute positively towards work.

Frequent evaluations help establish a pattern for taking disciplinary action as well. As weekly updates register in a company’s HRIS database, problem areas can be identified and employees who are slacking off can be weeded out. Documenting patterns for unproductive employees can help build a case against them, if and when, they need to be terminated. This documentation will be useful if the terminated employee decides to file a lawsuit.

What is even better is, that establishing an agile review system is effective in the long run, in terms of both time and money. Employers will spend lesser time on reviews with their work being divided into smaller chunks and will have an engaged workforce. A thorough in-depth analysis of employee behaviour will be more inherent and personal, as opposed to a yearly, colder, and more formal review. A happy employee is crucial to any company and can help save a lot of money, which would otherwise go into training a fresh one.

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