Monday, July 12, 2010

How to "Performance Manage" the NEW Flexible Workforce?



My business partner, Barbara Hughes and I were discussing last week's blog topic, "Performance Management is a Tool and not a Chore" when she asked me a very good question:

"How will HR professionals design a performance management system with the changing workforce?  Now, that we have more 1099's, project workers, and consultants instead of regular full-time employees.  
This trend was discussed in a recent BusinessWeek article and one that needs consideration around this performance management topic.

My first reaction was that, with the "flexible" workforce, it would be easy to conduct performance management as it will be the truest form of pay for performance.  Either you meet the project deliverables and deliver on-time or you are not renewed, continued or called back.  End of story.

Then I thought, well why should that be different from our "regular" workforce?  I know what you are going to say, we need to use our progressive discipline program and we need to coach and counsel, we need to do X, Y and Z.  But, we don't do that for 1099's or temporary workers.  We are very quick to say, "Next" with that group.

I believe we are going to have to get this dichotomy figured out as we are not going to have less temporary, 1099's and consultants in our workforce; we are going to have more.

How do you think we can handle performance with these two different groups in one workforce?  Should we have two separate systems?  What are your experiences in this situation?

5 comments:

Michael D. Haberman, SPHR said...

I think pay for performance is an excellent idea. But it doesn't occur because many employers cannot tell their employees what they are being measured on. That problem needs to be fixed first, then we can proceed to holding employees accountable.

Barbara A Hughes said...

This issue could very well be the final uncoupling of the employer-employee compact forged post-WWII; which started to be dismantled in the 1980's. It was that unspoken agreement that if you, Employee, give me your hard work, I, Employer, will provide a lifetime job and give you benefits, a retirement fund, etc. For both parties, it was good while it lasted but it's over. And that might not be a bad thing.

Could it be generational? I'm a Boomer and a lot of us never expected to be thrust into the temporary workforce. For Gen X'ers and Y'ers, I think they will welcome the freedom of project work, moving from one employer to another, building up valuable skills and balancing work and life in a way that suits them, not the employer. Well run projects have very specific timelines, outcomes and deliverables. That is what people will be measured on and the project leaders will be measured on business impact of that project and cost controls. Really, is it any harder than that?

Cathy Missildine-Martin, SPHR said...

Thanks Barbara and Mike:

Great points. Mike, I agree a complete re-haul of the current system has to take place. I just don't know what that looks like for the new workforce.

Barbara, I do believe it is as simple as you stated, however, it has been so hard for so long....it will be a huge paradigm shift for some....but I am ready to start!

Cathy Missildine-Martin, SPHR said...

Thanks Barbara and Mike:

Great points. Mike, I agree a complete re-haul of the current system has to take place. I just don't know what that looks like for the new workforce.

Barbara, I do believe it is as simple as you stated, however, it has been so hard for so long....it will be a huge paradigm shift for some....but I am ready to start!

Frances said...

If that's the case, your system definitely needs some changes since supervisors have to keep track of the workforce performance which should be constantly improving on the part of the regular workers. While that might be hard at first, this will be of great benefit to you in the long run.