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PPMA Annual Seminar 2017 - Productivity - what role should HR & OD professionals play?

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There is no easy - or indeed single - answer to what productivity means and how we achieve it. But what we know is that UK PLC has a productivity issue compared with other countries

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PPMA Annual Seminar 2017 - Productivity - what role should HR & OD professionals play?

  1. 1. 1 PRODUCTIVITY (PERFORMANCE): AN EVIDENCE-BASED APPROCH Rob B Briner Bristol 28.04.17
  2. 2. 2 Outline  What is productivity? And why we will focus on performance management today  What ‘works’ in performance management and measurement?  The role of evidence-based practice in HR & OD  What gets in the way of evidence-based practice?  Implications for roles of HR & OD 2
  3. 3. 3 Assumptions: Beyond transactional stuff HR professionals should…  …do stuff that addresses important business/organizational problems (not trivial issues)  …do stuff that is likely to work (not stuff that is unlikely work or has little effect)  Even more important in public sector?  Do you agree? If so, how are we going to do that? 3
  4. 4. 4 Public sector productivity & effectiveness? (LSE)  Productivity: Ratio of all outputs produced by a given organisation divided by the inputs used to produce them.  Effectiveness: Ratio of the outcomes which an organisation aims to achieve, divided by the total inputs. 4
  5. 5. 5 Some questions for you  How many of you as part of your HR or OD role are involved in measuring and managing productivity?  How many of you as part of your HR or OD role are involved in measuring and managing employee performance? 5
  6. 6. 6 What works in performance management? (CIPD December 2016) 6
  7. 7. 7 Main points (1)  Goal setting can ‘work’ but it’s very easy to misapply so it has no effect or negative effects on performance – Can detract from important tasks in complex jobs • Navigating steps or stages to reach goal • Adapting to unfamiliar situations • Developing new skills • Making decisions based on data-analysis – ‘Do your best’ (rather than specific) and leaning goals better in complex jobs 7
  8. 8. 8 Main points (2)  Goal-setting central to performance management and appraisal BUT depends on accurate progress monitoring and accurate feedback  Some short-cycle simple tasks have intrinsic feedback (e.g., processing forms)  Other tasks and jobs depend very strongly on feedback from performance appraisal but… 8
  9. 9. 9 Main points (3)  Performance appraisal may harm performance  Confusion over purpose (administrative, developmental, performance)  Employee reactions  Huge number of biases and other distorting factors that mean appraisal is inaccurate and giving poor feedback  How performance appraisal needs to be changed to work ‘best’ depends a lot on contextual factors 9
  10. 10. 10 Some more questions – write down your answers (1, 2, 4, 6 only) 1. What’s happened to average job tenure in the past 10 years? Up? Down? Stayed same? (UK) 2. Job satisfaction in past 15 years? Up? Down? Stayed same? (UK) 3. Generational differences in work attitudes? Large? Small? None? (US) 4. Gig economy? More employees? Fewer employees? About the same? (UK) 5. World moving faster – more VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity)? Faster? Slower? Same? (US) 6. What’s happened to UK Public Sector productivity 1997- 2013? Up? Down? Same? 10
  11. 11. 11 Why evidence-based practice? The elevator pitch  Decisions about both problems and solutions should be based on the best available evidence  Evidence = relevant information and data = scientific findings, organizational/context data, personal experience, stakeholder perceptions  All practitioners base their decisions on evidence but – Limited attention to quality (and relevance) of evidence – Limited sources and types of evidence 11
  12. 12. 12 Where did the idea of evidence-based practice come from? Yes, it’s a ‘thing’!  1990 Medicine  1998 Education  1998 Probation service  1999 Housing policy  1999 Social care  1999 Regeneration policy and practice  2000 Nursing  2000 Criminal justice  2005 Management and HR? 12
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  22. 22. 22 More materials available online www.cebma.org 22
  23. 23. 23 What is evidence-based practice  The conscientious (effort), explicit (clarity) and judicious (critical of quality) use of evidence from multiple sources to increase the likelihood of a favourable outcome  It’s about the process  It’s not about certainties (this will work)  It’s is about probabilities and likelihoods  It is about reducing uncertainty (given our context this is more likely to lead to the outcome we want than doing something else or doing nothing) 23
  24. 24. 24 Six step process for identifying likely problem/opportunity and solution 24
  25. 25. 25 Example of evidence-based absence management  Suppose you have a hunch or some data suggesting that absence may be ‘too high’ (whatever that means)  How would you approach from an evidence- based practice approach? 25
  26. 26. 26 26 Element 1: Practitioners’ professional expertise  Identifying the problem – Have I/we seen absence problems before? What happened? – Based on our experience, is the level of absence here a problem? – What do I/we believe about causes of absence?  Identifying solution (only if absence is a problem) – Have I/we seen absence interventions before? What happened? – What do I/we believe about absence interventions? – Based on our experience, is the level of absence here a problem? What are costs & benefits of intervening?  How relevant and applicable and trustworthy is my/our expertise?
  27. 27. 27 27 Element 2: Organizational data  Identifying the problem – What actually is the absence rate? – What type of absences and where? – Are there patterns or trends in absence? – Do data show how absence is a problem?  Identifying solution (only if absence is a problem) – What absence management is currently in place and is it working? – What else is happening that might be affecting absence? – Are there relationships between absence and other data? Employee type? Shift? Department?  How relevant and applicable and trustworthy are our organizational data?
  28. 28. 28 28 Element 3: Scientific literature  Identifying the problem – What are the average rates of absence in my sector and location – is the absence rate here ‘high’? – What does systematically reviewed research evidence suggest are the problems with absence  Identifying solution (only if absence is a problem) – What does research evidence from systematic reviews suggest are major causes of absence? – What does research evidence from systematic reviews suggest as effective absence interventions?  How relevant and applicable and trustworthy are the scientific findings?
  29. 29. 29 29 Element 4: Stakeholders values and concerns  Identifying the problem – How do employees feel about and view the absence ‘problem’? – Do they see negative consequences? – What do managers think about the problem? – Do customers or clients or service users have a view?  Identifying solution (only if absence is a problem) – How do employees feel about and view the solutions? – What do managers think about the solutions? – What alternative explanations and proposed solutions do others have?  How relevant and applicable and trustworthy is the evidence about stakeholder concerns?
  30. 30. 30 The challenge  Nobody disagrees with evidence-based practice in principle  So why isn’t it happening much (or at all)? 30
  31. 31. 31 What gets in the way of evidence-based practice in general?  Misconceptions of EBP  Strong and wrong beliefs  Individual and group cognitive biases  Fads, fashions & (some) consultancies  Organizational politics/power  Poor logic models/theories of change  Over-claiming about the quality and quantity of evidence (critical appraisal essential)  Career incentives  Pre-enlightenment views  Not necessarily a lack of or poor evidence – it’s about the best available evidence and a process  A lack of focus on a specific and well- identified problem (or opportunity)  Contexts in which practitioners’ practice is not evaluated (it doesn’t matter what they do)  Good intentions (road to hell paved with)  Erroneous belief that we already are evidence-based (or evidence-based enough)  Access to only some sources/types of evidence  The perceived need for speed  Crude benchmarking 31
  32. 32. 32 Misconceptions of evidence-based HR  Practitioners can’t use their experience - it’s mostly about scientific/academic evidence  It’s about the truth and proving things  It’s about making perfectly-informed decisions using all the necessary information  Gathering the evidence will give you The Answer  It’s about new ‘cutting edge’ ideas and studies  Experts/academics know all about the evidence so you just need to ask them  It’s an academic versus practitioner thing 32
  33. 33. 33 Strong and wrong beliefs  It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so. (Mark Twain)  The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge (Stephen Hawking)  Ignorance is fine – false beliefs not so 33
  34. 34. 34 Some more questions – write down your answers 1. What’s happened to average job tenure in the past 10 years? Up? Down? Stayed same? (UK) 2. Job satisfaction in past 15 years? Up? Down? Stayed same? (UK) 3. Generational differences in work attitudes? Large? Small? None? (US) 4. Gig economy? More employees? Fewer employees? About the same? (UK) 5. World moving faster – more VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity)? Faster? Slower? Same? (US) 6. What’s happened to UK Public Sector productivity 1997- 2013? Up? Down? Same? 34
  35. 35. 35 1. Job tenure UK 35
  36. 36. 36 Job tenure USA 36
  37. 37. 37 2. Job satisfaction UK 37
  38. 38. 38 USA 38
  39. 39. 39 3. Generational differences in work attitudes? 39
  40. 40. 40 4. Gig economy – some US commentators  “Slowly but surely a revolution is taking shape – an entirely different kind of economy. The labor force of new entrepreneurs, which we call the Gig Economy, is growing a rapidly around the world and could soon represent as much as 50 per cent of the US workforce.” (Micha Kaufma)  “Freelancing is the new normal — and this survey shows that America’s new workforce is big, crucial, and here to stay” (Sara Horowitz)  “We’re in the middle of a sea change in how American employment works, and that’s a very good thing” (Gene Zain)  “Gone is the era of the lifetime career, let alone the lifelong job and the economic security that came with it, having been replaced by a new economy intent on recasting full-time employees into contractors, vendors, and temporary workers.” (Nick Hanauer) 40
  41. 41. 41 Gig economy? 41
  42. 42. 42 Work Foundation (2016)  “…there is not much evidence that the gig economy has so far fundamentally changed the long term structure of employment in either the US or the UK. This does not mean that it will not do so in the future.” 42
  43. 43. 43 Resolution Foundation (2015)  But turn to official datasets and evidence for this revolution is hard to find. In both the US and the UK, the share of workers with permanent jobs hasn’t changed much in recent decades, and nor has multiple job holding. The share of workers who are self- employed is actually falling in the US. While it had been rising quite rapidly in the UK, it has plateaued in the past year. 43
  44. 44. 44 5. More VUCA? 44
  45. 45. 45 Economist: Creed of Speed December 2015  The idea that time is speeding up is clearly popular. It is also plausible. There is just one problem. It is very hard to prove that it is actually happening.  Hard evidence of a great acceleration is hard to come by. The Economist has considered a variety of measures by which the speed of business in America can be quantified. A few do show some acceleration. But a lot do not. 45
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  47. 47. 47 6. Public Sector Productivity? (ONS) 47
  48. 48. 48 6. Public Sector Productivity? (ONS) 48
  49. 49. 49 So what? What’s wrong with strong and wrong beliefs?  They’re a distraction and diversion  How might such beliefs affect the decisions a HR practitioner makes in relation to (for example) – Recruitment practices? – Retention practices? – Improving job satisfaction? – The speed with which decisions need to be made? 49
  50. 50. 50 Evidence-based practice can help because it’s about the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of different sources of information 50
  51. 51. 51 Fads and fashions get in the way  Fads generally act as a barrier to clear and critical thinking  Encourage solutioneering – identifying a ‘problem’ by the absence of the ‘solution’ (e.g., the problem is our managers have low emotional intelligence)  Fads as interventions may be effective but – Are not the panaceas they often claim to be – Even if they work, effect may not be large – May be no more effective than existing interventions – Can be harmful – Over-applied – to all organizations and problems 51
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  60. 60. 60 Based on Pascale (1990) 60
  61. 61. 61 The anti-fad fad 61
  62. 62. 62 Related concept of the quick fix  Focus on style and presentation not content or process  Not be evaluated  Not be as quick as had been hoped  Not be effective so followed by another quick fix  Become subject to organizational amnesia*  Can be career-enhancing for managers (e.g., issue selling, kick-ass CEOs) *Kitchen equipment analogy 62
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  64. 64. 64 Evidence-based practice can help because it’s about the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of different sources of information 64
  65. 65. 65 Implications of evidence-based practice for HR’s role in performance management (1)  Understand the performance problem first – What performance problems exist? – What types of performance? – Where? – How do you know? – What is the quality of the evidence? 65
  66. 66. 66 Implications of evidence-based practice for HR’s role in performance management (2)  What are the most likely solutions to those problems?  Understand the scientific evidence for how and why performance appraisals can work (better) – CIPD report  Use organizational data to understand biases and inaccuracies  Stakeholder views of appraisal  Clarify purpose of performance appraisals  Use six steps four sources  Etc.. 66
  67. 67. 67 It’s a (sort of) choice  How do you (and your team) want to practice as a professional?  How would you like your (and your teams) skills, knowledge and effectiveness to develop over the course (of your possibly very long) career?  How do you think the profession needs to develop?  Do you want us to go beyond fads and fashions? If so, how is it going to happen?  How can you make sure you do what’s important and what’s most likely to work for your organization its employees? And deal with the three hardest words in management? 67
  68. 68. 68 Three hardest words to say in management? “I don’t know” But I know how to find out – Evidence-based practice 68
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  70. 70. 70 PRODUCTIVITY (PERFORMANCE): AN EVIDENCE-BASED APPROCH Rob B Briner Bristol 28.04.17

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