Variable performance is the bane of far too many teams, departments and functions. Even when the term “variable performance” remains unknown by those who are coping with its consequences. According to research done by Ernest O’Boyle Jr. and Herman Aguinis and published in the journal Personnel Psychology, your top performers can be +/- 400% more productive than your lower performers –this is a problem desperately in need of solving.
But variable performance is a tough one, because its causes can seem elusive. Think of it like this. You have a team of people serving in similar roles. Each individual should be a high performer, based on their experience and performance history, and, at least in this example, perform equally well in their roles. Except they don’t. As a result, not only are you faced with a commercial challenge that has a negative impact on the bottom line, but you’re faced with a cultural issue that could diminish morale and increase attrition.
A limited range of solutions to the variable performance problem
Up until now, best practice has been to look at processes; provide performance support; or get into some form of coaching or assessment of the individual –but at best these practices were limited in utility. Perhaps, this variable performance issue was seen as an inter-personal one based on a vague idea of personality clashes, or poorly communicated strategies and goals and flawed leadership. But lurking at the back of any manager’s mind is the sense that if they could identify what makes their best performer, the best, they’d solve the problem. After all, this top performer is thriving despite the factors that may be inhibiting their colleague’s performance.
So what if you could truly capture those features of the top performer? And do it digitally?
Next-generation human assessment technology versus variable performance
Enter Next-generation human assessment technology. While psychometric testing and capability frameworks have been around for decades, they have never been unified into a single tool. In the past, the cumbersome and costly nature of these methods and technologies meant that you couldn’t really deploy them widely or at speed across an organisation. They were used sparingly, usually for sensitive roles, often those with strong fiduciary or governance responsibilities like board members.
Next-generation human assessment technology flips the traditional approach to capability evaluation on its head, delivering a powerful, data-driven solution to a persistent, legacy problem. Variable performance exists for a number of reasons that hinge on the interaction between individual, role and environment.
Using experience or even standalone psychometric assessments of the individual without mapping this data against the role and the environment will seldom be enough to understand what makes or breaks high performance in a particular role and in a particular environment.
What this Next-gen technology does is provide a way for human resources and other managers to engage business managers and broader teams in understanding and aligning workforce capability and individual motivations to organisational strategy and high performance.
Next-generation human assessment technology delivers insights and answers
Here’s how this technology addresses the variable performance problem.
The tool enables deep insights into the human capabilities wanted, held and needed within a specific business’ context at a scale and speed previously not possible. It does this benchmarking individuals against capabilities needed for a specific role in a specific organisation. The process is designed to unlock the answers to what Transferable Human Capabilities drive high performance in the specific role, in addition to what changes managers and experts believe are required now and into the future.
Below are example results from the first two steps in the process, gathering manager/expert views & requirements and benchmarking top performers. Showing the results, categories into the eight employability skills groups.
The Finalised profile balances what the experts want to change and what high performers have in common. The specific capabilities included in the profile are;
- Accepting Responsibility
- Showing Professionalism
- Achieving Plans
- Working with Teams
The technology isn’t magic, nor does it replace the need for smart, experience-driven leadership and human insights to ultimately build your high performing humans and your high performance teams. What it does do is equip you with previously inaccessible and actionable information that frequently, and sometimes shockingly, lays bare gaps in teams and suggests clear paths for remediating those gaps.
The bottom line is this: no technology or method can perfect a person or a culture, but there is now a technological answer that can have a measurable impact on an organisation’s performance by focusing on and increasing the proportion of high performers to low.
And the net benefit of that? Stronger revenue, more cohesive teams and a happier workforce.