The Marriage of Technology and Human Performance

Communication Leadership

A Guest Post by Colonel Rob Campbell

 

Communication in the Modern Workplace

Communication in the modern workplace has grown by leaps and bounds with the advent of office collaboration hubs such as Slack, Proofhub, Zoom and Hiver to name a few. As the world tilted on its axis following the outbreak of the Coronavirus, more companies were forced to make the ‘work-from-home’ switch, causing a greater reliance on these hubs.

 

It is too early to tell but the after-effects of this pandemic might see more businesses operating through virtual means keeping their employees safely distanced yet operating effectively. What used to require walking down the hall, creating an email or dialing a telephone now happens in real-time via chat boxes or even text messages from every employee’s smartphone.

 

Companies are paying for this new, efficient technology but employees are paying the price. Social distancing notwithstanding, digits, characters and screens have replaced the face, feeling, voice and feedback of interpersonal communication.

 

Even with the increased use of video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, an interpersonal void exists. This void exacerbates existing workplace leadership failures such as lack of purpose, recognition, effective feedback and performance appraisal.

 

Leadership failures in a time when human interaction was possible, will not likely improve when video may be the only means. Employee disengagement and turnover will continue to be the result. Before the pandemic, in a booming economy, the Gallup organization’s pulse on employee disengagement hovered at 65%. Is it time to sign the divorce papers between technology and human connection or, with some help, could a thriving marriage result?

 

The Importance of Feedback on Employee Engagement

A recent MIT Sloan Management Review special report, “A Noble Purpose Alone Won’t Transform Your Company,” posits, the level and quality of interpersonal collaboration has the greatest impact on employee engagement. Interpersonal being the operative word, even when forced into video interaction, the leader and led must interact in ways which provide value.

 

Employees or the ‘led’, gain value and become engaged in the workplace when they receive constructive feedback delivered by a coach or the ‘leader.’ Feedback must not only come from the leader but from peers as well and must address not only job performance but alignment with company values and culture. It doesn’t stop there. Employees in the modern workplace desire recognition, purpose behind the work that they do and personal and professional goal management.

 

People are in a constant state of growth and need leaders to light the way for their advancement. The research and writings on what people desire in the workplace are clear. The case is made. Even when forced apart, people want to interact with people.

 

This being the case, coupled with video conferencing means, there is still a place for technology in interpersonal feedback, recognition and growth. Technology is here to stay and all of what is described above is possible even as the workforce works from home.

 

Making the Marriage Work

It’s time to make this marriage work. Marriages succeed and thrive when both partners contribute equally. The same is true in the marriage of technology and human interaction. Let’s start with the technology partner.

 

Technology like Performance Culture’s Performance Management Software, created with people at its epicenter, can do its part in this marriage to promote and maintain workplace engagement. The software is the ‘behind the scenes’ manager of components like performance reviews, check-ins, recognition, employee engagement surveys, 360-degree feedback, learning and goal management.

 

While leaders immerse themselves in their job duties tackling big problems and managing complex task lists, the Performance Culture software taps them on the shoulder when it is time for a check-in or feedback session.

 

The software serves as the space or room where employees can interact, leave feedback and self-develop. It provides a home for company vision, values and culture, central to cultivating alignment. The software helps the leader in the act of appraising a person with the Performance Values Matrix. Lastly, but not least, the software assists leaders in their role of growing their people, personally and professionally.

Performance-Values Matrix

Performance Culture Performance Values Matrix

 

The Marriage: It all Starts with the Leader

Now to the other partner in this marriage; the leader. For all the software does and provides, it’s not the Tesla of performance management. It needs a driver. The technology partner in this marriage will always be faithful and there when needed, 24/7. In some cases, the leader may be less so. For most, having to talk about performance with another human being face to face is not a natural act. It is no more natural (perhaps less so) through a video session.

 

As a seasoned Army officer with rank and legal authority, I too was afraid of appraising my people. Fear aside, I knew it was my duty as an Army leader and I overcame with a supporting staff and scheduling discipline to meet this obligation.

 

While forward deployed to Afghanistan with only a portion of my organization with me, I would video teleconference with my subordinate leaders back at our home base. It was challenging doing this remotely from a combat outpost but I knew it was vital to the health of my organization.

 

I had people assisting me and managing my calendar as constant reminders of my role in the marriage. What I missed was an interactive system like the Performance Culture software where subordinates of mine could ask for feedback, check-ins and get valuable 360 assessments.

 

Most leaders do not have staffs to help them conduct performance management and, while the software cannot force a leader to commit to appraising and interacting with his or her people, it does serve as that staff, reminding the leader of this duty. Moreover, the software provides the needed backdrop of values, culture, and 360 assessments to manage performance and grow people.

 

Companies have arrived at a true crucible of leadership under this current crisis and its certain aftershocks. Only effective leadership supported by effective technology will keep companies alive and thriving.

 

Employees will greatly appreciate the impacts of a crisis on their company and its leaders, but their desire for purpose, recognition, effective feedback and performance appraisal will not change. If companies are to overcome the rigors of this crisis, a strong marriage between leadership and technology must exist. Committed leaders, aligned with a company’s values and culture who understand their role in creating engaged employees supported by Performance Culture’s Performance Management software will give people what they expect, demand and deserve.

 

Interested in learning more about how Performance Culture can help your organization? Request a free demo today to see the software in action.

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About the Author: Rob Campbell is a retired U.S. Army Colonel turned Author, Speaker and Executive Leadership Coach for Performance Culture INC. After 27 years in uniform and three combat tours, Rob wrote a book on leadership, “It’s Personal, Not Personnel, Leadership Lessons for the Battlefield and the Boardroom.”

 

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