#WFH: “Am I Being Overlooked”?
MEET NEAL (Cont.)
Then there is the issue of trust. HR needs to rewrite and redo evaluations, compliance, performance reviews, etc. so that they reflect not just your performance goal but also your impact on the rest of the organization. We are going to reward you, pay you and promote you based on deliverables and it really does not matter where you are. HR could and should make a huge difference in the adoption of trust, supporting people being remote and changing the old thought process that if I am not in the office, “I am being overlooked.”
According to Neal, organizations should lose the annual performance review and make it more frequent: quarterly, monthly, or even weekly. This is especially important for remote workers. The frequency is not as important as the parameters. Lose the cascading goals and write it in clear terms. It is difficult to get rid of the old performance management mindset because it is how senior managers check on productivity, even though there is truly little relationship. We need clearer expectations and quality control measures instead of performance management. Organizations use the term “optics,” which means watching over the workforce, which is ridiculous. It signifies old-fashioned, low level, outdated worker and management relationships that no longer serve anyone. It is a 150-year-old tradition that organizations need to lose now. Give people the tools they need and let them do the work. The ones that are motivated will, and those are the folks you want working for you.
Neal thinks support networks need to be improved. Currently workers build their own networks and sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. We are always adopting the most convenient thing. Mobile devices are just part of the package. Millennials connect using mobile methods, but in several different ways. Everyone is just trying to get the answers. In theory we have everything we need. We have all the right tools, even though new ones will continue to evolve. But we do not have the support mechanisms, people, training, contacts, etc.
Who do I call for “X”? We build our own networks and sometimes we get good information and sometimes we get bad information. When I have a question, how do I articulate it and how do I go get it resolved? This problem is exaggerated in the remote workplace. To get an answer the worker has to go to HR or IT support or procurement and is virtually all over the place trying to chase down an answer. We need to support people working remotely with strong support networks. This is necessary in face-to-face environments but critical in the remote workplace to make that person more effective and efficient. Neal thinks there needs to be some sort of aggregation of contacts and technologies. Most organizations have too many technologies and everybody is using a different set of tools, and no one is sure what to use, when or how to respond. Some organizations use SMS (Short Message Service), others rely mostly on email, others use Microsoft Teams or Slack or Google. Some use them all. There needs to be a personal aggregate that helps people to navigate the arsenal of technologies that are available and provides them with the information and touchpoints they need. The only industry that operates like this is Finance and that is because they are so strictly regulated.
Neal gives a perfect example of his wife and daughter and friend asking why he did not respond to their SMS text for hours. He indicates it was because he was on his computer and not on his phone. The point is that more technologies is not necessarily better and can be frustrating and confusing. Most people have multiple emails, personal and business, tons of other collaboration software, and text messaging options, but there is nothing that is bringing it all together. This can make contact in the remote workplace confusing and frustrating. People miss things. He said, maybe a hologram of my mother stating “Neal, pay attention to this” would help!
We continue to create new channels of communication that are much more ubiquitous, but don’t really think about the communications. We don’t put parameters around it and in the remote workplace it takes time and effort just to sort through all the information that is continually coming at us. Neal said, the answer seems to be a single sign-on portal where when I wake up in the morning, I go to work, and I sign on (wherever I am) and everything I need is right there. That’s where leadership comes in. Neal shares the example of customer support and multiple channels and limited execution. Customers can call for support, although it is sometimes difficult to talk with a human, they can email, or they can talk to a chatbot or a human on a chat app. Sometimes one of these methods is helpful and sometimes not. It depends on the importance leadership places on customer service.
With the COVID-19 crisis, Neal believes he should be able to go to one place to get the answers. Right now, he is faced with multiple emails, texts, posts, and on and on. People do not know what to pay attention to. Is the COVID-19 message from Human Resources the same as the one that came from the department manager? We have too many pieces of technology and no plan for communications.
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