How the definition of ‘star performer’ has changed post COVID

While the normal performance-management approach, in terms of evaluation, will continue, the key aspect of ‘what’ and ‘how’ of the performance will matter more. It is more about the ‘how’ that the person is able to manage

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Employees’ performance has always been the topic of discussion at the workplace. From intense discussions and Powerpoint presentations, to a series of evaluations, there is a review at various levels. However, things changed drastically after the pandemic, with productivity and performance being examined through a completely different lens.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented an opportunity for businesses to realise that their top performers — despite changing and uncertain work environments — not only maintained productivity, but in certain cases even thrived to become more powerful contributors during these challenging times.

By definition, star performers are those who have always exceeded the expectations of their managers. That means, even without the pandemic, there are expectations from the employees and when they fulfils these expectations, they are considered to have done something extraordinary to beat the situation and create a benchmark.

Rajeev Singh, CHRO, ATG Tires, says, “The definition of a star performer amidst the current situation is going to change. In pre COVID times, there were different competencies and parameters to evaluate performance. Those parameters have changed post COVID and become irrelevant.”

Currently, organisations are looking at different parameters to survive and make a big difference in the COVID and post-COVID era. Those new skills and qualities are going to define how you are going to manage work in this current scenario.

Praveer Priyadarshi

“The application of skills has become very important. It matters even more how the person is able to cope with his job, scale it to the next level by anticipating the challenges much in advance, and strategise to ensure the delivery of what is expected of him, and more.”

“Today, it’s not just about performance. It has more to do with people’s agility and their being forthcoming, adaptive in the new conditions, willing to understand and keen to contribute under such tough conditions,” says Prashant Rai, VP-HR, Arohan Financial Services.

When we look at a star performer, we look at somebody who really perform better than the ordinary, in terms of skills, knowledge and attitude. Post COVID, the paradigms have changed.

Skills

As the concept of a workplace has changed due to the pandemic, companies will require different skills that are likely to be in high demand in a post-coronavirus world.

Senior HR leader, Praveer Priyadarshi says, “The application of skills has become very important. It matters even more how the person is able to cope with his job, is able to scale it to the next level by anticipating the challenges much in advance, and manages to strategise to ensure the delivery of what is expected of him, and more.”

Prashant Rai

“Today, it’s not just about performance. It has more to do with people’s agility and their being forthcoming, adaptive in the new conditions, willing to understand and keen to contribute under such tough conditions.”

Attitude

It may seem as if skills and experience are the most important characteristics of an employee, but attitude plays just as big a role. After all, what good are great professional skills without the attitude to see it all through?

Agrees Priyadarshi, “In spite of the constraints of not being able to work together, the go-getter attitude in an employee helps in the ability to network and bring people together onto a platform and get the desired inputs and insights, and then give the outcome which is required for the job performance.”

Today, Rai continues, “It is about attitude — how one is able to live day in and day out in terms of understanding, keeping oneself motivated. Self-control and self-motivation play an important role in working throughout this COVID situation. It is very important to keep a view of what’s working outside, while not losing the balance inside. This requires a very strong mindset and the ability to individually manage oneself.”

Primarily, the person needs to be very good at ensuring convergence of thoughts and actions, which will result in a very positive output.

The other important thing will be commitment to delivery, despite the constraints. “A lot of constraints have been imposed today, but how an employee is able to overcome those is the key to a person becoming the star performer going forward,”points out Priyadarshi.

Performance management – the paradigm shift

Whether times are good or bad, performance has to be documented and feedback has to be given. Everybody deserves to know how they have performed during a certain period.

From a behavioural perspective, Rai opines that the days are going to be extreme in terms of competencies, agility and ability to work in teams.

“It will not just be about individual performance, but about team performance to a great extent. Thus, orientation of the performance-management system, which is very much aligned towards an individual approach, is going to change as the working environment is changing,” he adds.

During and post the pandemic, the star performer will be someone who has done extraordinary work, which has benefited the company in a big way.

Stating an example, Singh explains, “In sales, some personnel may have achieved excellent numbers as compared to their peers. These employees would have done something different to be able to perform better. Here, it is their rapport with the customers and their manner of interaction that have helped them in a different way.”

Rajeev Singh

“In pre-COVID times, there were different competencies and parameters to evaluate performance. Those parameters have changed post COVID and become irrelevant.”

The normal performance management approach in terms of evaluation will continue, but the key aspect of ‘what’ and ‘how’ of the performance will matter more. It will be more about ‘how’ the person is able to manage.

In Rai’s words, “Previously, evaluation of star performers was all about looking at the bottom line, with numbers being the only driving factor. In today’s context, it is more about looking beyond that dimension into how they are handling their teams. It is not just about individual performance but collective performance. To be precise, it is more about ‘star performance’ than ‘star performer’.”

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