Canadian HR Reporter

April 2020 CAN

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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20 F E A T U R E S H aving worked half of his career in corporate leadership and the other half in consulting, Greg Bambury knows performance management well. "I have seen it from both sides of the equation in terms of implementing systems." As CHRO of Medavie in Dartmouth, N.S., Bambury has been involved with fairly sophisticated systems that feature ratios and five levels of performance measurement and quadratic equations. But he finds it's often a process people hide behind, rather than getting involved in a really effective fashion. "Sometimes, I feel that the HR processes that have been developed are part of the problem, not part of the solution," he says. "We have to tear down the monuments to incompetence and one of the monuments to HR's incompetence has been the performance management process… and accepting that is our first step to coming up with a better solution for our organizations." Bambury likes to use the metaphor of a fruit stand, where a worker is observed interacting with people in terms of explaining the products and attracting customers, and the employer can provide immediate feedback. "To me, that level of decentralized, front-line supervision with immediate expectations around behaviour and immediate expectations around what… is expected of someone, that is probably the truest and most profound type of performance feedback an employee can ever see," he says. However, as organizations become more sophisticated and decentralized, how do they illicit that level of feedback and ownership from supervisors? "The essence of it is decentralized leadership that really puts that responsibility for performance management, performance feedback and process improvement, etcetera, in the hands of the individual who is closest and most capable of providing information on continuous basis… not on a periodic basis or pre-established basis, but on a basis where action — whether it be positive or negative — illicits a response, and a response that reinforces or redirects," says Bambury. It's about establishing a framework around those organizational principles and values in which the feedback is measured and provided, from a behavioural standpoint, he says. "But then how do we prepare our leaders — and I'm primarily talking about the front-line leaders who interact on day-to-day basis — to articulate the behaviours and value set that are most appropriate for the nature of that work that the employee is involved with?" It's about becoming a little bit less directorial in terms of filling out a performance review form in a certain time frame, with specific questions, and more about "that spirit of the fruit stand environment which is to say, 'Look, this is what I'm looking for in these interactions and this data processes input and so on, and this is the established framework on which we're going to measure it, and it's primarily values based,'" says Bambury. "The whole concept of a decentralized delivery method is where we're headed within our company." Much of this shift is about the essence of being a leader in an organization, and what that means. In building sophisticated systems that are less about showing the way and more about doing what's required, we're not necessarily harnessing the full power of leadership, he says. "It's not a check in the box that I've done a performance review at the allotted time and the allotted date. If I'm leading, I'm showing the way and that means showing the correct way or redirecting in the correct way," says Bambury. "It's continuously showing the way relative to what we expect to be done and what's actually getting done. Showing the way when we have a fantastic example that needs to be celebrated and is in fact showing a new way… and it's taking that corrective action that shows others a good example or bad example." As for having those difficult conversations around performance, anything gets easier the more often you do it, he says. "The frequency is directly correlated to the perception of difficulty. So if… every day, I have a little feedback for you [explaining] exactly what my intention is, exactly what my motivation is for that, you're going to know the consequences associated with that conversation and you're going to be extremely comfortable both as sender and receiver," he says. "It's moving away from this event basis and more into this relationship basis." Greg Bambury CHRO of Medavie in Dartmouth, N.S. The not-for-profit health solutions partner has about 6,400 employees Shirley-Marie Garcia Director of people and culture at March of Dimes Canada in Toronto The not-for-profit organization has about 2,100 employees and 4,000 volunteers T he not-for-profit sector is a very competitive one, and March of Dimes Canada relies heavily on funding from provincial and federal governments, private organizations and individual donors. Those parties are demanding greater accountability, greater efficiency and greater return on investment, says Shirley-Marie Garcia, director of people and culture at the Toronto-based organization. For that reason, the organization wants to make sure that all its programs establish those key performance indicators around quality service, she says. "That comes down to the importance of having that effective performance management system in place." Back in 2009, March of Dimes improved its employee engagement survey questions to better understand the drivers that keep employees engaged and can have the greatest impact. The result? Job clarity, qualities of supervision and being able to receive performance feedback in a timely manner were the top drivers of engagement, says Garcia. "It's a message that [told us] 'We've got to take this really seriously, this performance management, and find ways to make it better.'" As a result, the organization makes sure its strategies focus on those three drives so people know what's really expected of them, she says. "What's expected of them is not only the tasks that employees have to do, but, as well, [it's about] articulating to our employees what are

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