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The year ahead will rock: Here's why you should be optimistic

There seems to be a general sentiment that 2016 was a tough year, to put it mildly. We experienced everything from Brexit, a contentious presidential election (no matter which side you’re on) and the passing of many cultural icons. A look back at top Twitter conversations reveals just how disenchanted we were with 2016 around the globe – and who can blame us?  

However, in despair lies opportunity. We’re at the beginning of a new year, and at the same time seeing a new kind of workforce and workplace emerging. There is no better time to look ahead with optimism.  

As an industry, we’re driving towards the transformation of HR – from process to structure to technology – creating a real opportunity for forward-thinking leaders to reimagine people priorities in 2017. We’ll keep this a ‘resolution-free’ zone, but let’s vow to think differently and work smarter in the year ahead.

Think big. Go beyond engagement to employee experience. 

Deservedly so, we’ve seen the rise of culture and engagement as top priorities for HR leaders and executives, and they’re not going away any time soon. The transformation of HR is helping us step back and see the bigger picture to recognize how culture, engagement, development and recognition converge to shape the overall employee experience. We have to get it right from the start by creating an experience – even during talent acquisition – that conveys culture, supports collaboration and delivers on the promises we make as a company.

Here’s one thing we can toast to: recent research tells us that an astounding 83% of HR professionals acknowledge that employee experience is critical, and are investing specifically in training (56%), work spaces (51%) and rewards (47%) to give it a boost in 2017.1

This year, let’s get performance reviews right.

Yep, we’re still talking about the ‘broken’ performance review. Most organizations are still leveraging a process that no longer serves the needs

of the modern workforce. Let’s give credit where it’s due - the annual performance review started off well-intentioned, but now fails to connect people to their work, accomplishments, goals and colleagues in a meaningful way. Somehow, as the need to quickly develop skills and create organizational agility to meet future business demands evolved, the performance process got stuck in the past. While we continue to talk about the death of the performance review, many organizations I speak with recognize the need for change, but struggle to toss their current processes aside entirely.

This year, let’s commit to moving performance ahead. Let’s turn the death of performance management into the ‘performance revolution.’ It’s possible to redefine performance and feedback to suit your business, and at your own pace – whether it means augmenting the annual review with continuous peer feedback or supporting a cadence of manager check-ins or coaching conversations. No matter the pace or approach you take, let’s start 2017 trying something better than what we did in 2016.

Your managers rock, but they need your help.

The role of manager is being redefined, and we expect an incredible amount from our leaders – managers are being asked to lead beyond their lines of sight, understand the intricacies of the business and customers, and at the same time coach and develop their people. 

Gallup’s “State of the American Manager” research tells us that 82% of managers don’t have the high talent required to be successful in their roles, and that only 2 in 10 have some combination of talents to become successful given the right coaching and development.2 Seems like a drab outlook, given we now know how critical managers are to engaging employees, promoting company culture, impacting retention and overall business results.

But, I see opportunity in a number of areas impacting managers. We can do a better job identifying and nurturing the right employees towards management roles, we can better support employees as they become first-time managers (internal onboarding, mentoring, etc.) and we can give managers the visibility to better understand the needs of their teams. If we are going to expect more from our managers, let’s give them more in the new year.

Learn how you can better equip your managers and employees by experiencing the latest talent expansion suite from SumTotal, A Skillsoft Company.

1 “The Active Job Seeker Dilemma Study.” WorkplaceTrends, April 19, 2016.
2 “State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders.” Gallup, 2015.

Filed Under: Learning