Performance Reviews

HR World and the growth of Agile Performance Management

By on November 1, 2016

Alexey Mitkin shares with us his views about how HR management has changed over the years, Agile Performance Management and how it will create an impact in the coming years.

Q – What does HR Tech do? Why did you start in the HR discipline?

Alexey – The HR Tech is about making HR more productive. And it existed always. Another matter the fact that some time ago the first information technologies have appeared in HR, and we became to call it HR technologies or HR Tech.

The history of HR Tech originated at the end of 80-s of the last century when the first ATS (Applicant Tracking System) was launched.
Next it was a long way through the corporate jungle with transformation from HRIS (Human Resource Information System) to HRMS (Human Resource Management System) and HCM (Human Capital Management).

In my periodization the real HR Tech boom has started in around 2012 when it literary rushed into the IT scene and became the disruptive industry, as we know it.

There are plenty of products that make the landscape of modern HR technologies. Complex HCM systems which may guide you from the application to retirement and stand alone solutions doing soft skills analytics or testing cultural fit for instance – all of them are HR Tech.
Nothing has changed since the time we did not have computers in people management. We have just gotten different tools in our hands. This simple understanding may probably help those who are still uncertain of what’s going on.

Very similar things happen around us everyday. Not many have doubts that modern technologies are making our life more comfortable and easy.

All the modern technologies get into HR more and more deeply. They help recruiters to be more productive with sourcing, screening and tracking. They help to make learning more interactive and affordable. They help to create engaging environment and accelerate networking. They still help us to keep our files in order but give us new opportunities with people analytics.

Digital natives and emigrants want to consume the same level of technologies on work as they use in their daily lives. This is what HR Tech also does. It links new consumer behavior to the corporate routine.

I came to HR when it was ‘old school’ but we did not know it, and I still believe that working with people is the best job in the world ever.

Q – How has HR management changed since you started? Where do you see it going in the next 2-3 years?

Alexey – When I started in HR it was better known as Personnel Administration. The best thing from that time was the line managers were those who worked with people however as it has to be.

Since that time it was a huge transformation of what HR supposed to do. The remarkable thing is it’s still under discussion. I don’t know any other corporate discipline that creates such a great buzz around.

A lot of things are coming from HR managers themselves. Many of us weren’t defined who they are yet, while the modern times throw down us new challenges.

We went out the way from personnel administration to human resource management. Then it was called human capital and that was true. All began speaking about talent. Recently we realized it’s time to come back from talent management to people management. Is it too much for one generation? Not at all. Now we say that HR is not only about ‘human’ but about ‘digital’ as well and we have to learn how to be digital savvy.

HR Tech is on the way to the new stage of disruption now. The question is how it will match itself with corporate needs. Vendors shouldn’t separate from reality.

Three things about the future of HR Tech mentioned by Mark V. Hurd, CEO at Oracle, a few years ago are still relevant. Social, Mobile, Cloud.

Since then some more things were added. Predictive Analytics is just one of them. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence just have arrived.

The upcoming trend is deepening specialization. The new solutions about employee engagement, corporate culture, performance management, learning and well being will arrive soon.

Despite all technological novelties Human should remain. It’s still about people, just with one difference: It’s about people in new reality.

Q – What is your opinion about Agile performance management, practice of making feedback more continuous & encouraging a culture of learning, development as well as coaching?

Alexey – I told recently that feedback works better when it is delivered in time.

The traditional practice of achievements and rewards takes more than one year when companies do performance appraisals after annual results. It will remain valid for annual goals for sure, and mostly for the managerial level.

Agile started with IT, and is now getting inside different business lines. Matrix structure is coming down from the corporate level to the projects. More and more people are involved in this process.

When you run through a number of projects managed by different owners you wish to be appraised by milestones.

But you know what, Agile performance management is not that new, as it probably seems to be. I used to work in the culture of giving feedback by the end of a single working day. We set down in a circle and told short stories of the day. Next our group lead gave us feedback, and not only from his point of view, but from the customers’ side too, which was greatly beneficial. We shared best demonstrated practices helped each other to make our work better, created trust and engagement. That was one of the best experience I have ever had. It was twenty years ago.

Q – Why now is the right time for organisations to invest in Agile performance management?

Alexey – The right time is now. This is what I fully agree with you. It’s trending because of business needs and vendors are ready to deliver the right solutions for this. Business is changing in terms of processes and ready to adopt Agile.

The important thing is that it is more natural for people. But it will require more investments from managers. It’s not in terms of money but in terms of changing the old way of thinking and doing.

Corporate environment is a special place. People often forget what they were before they have crossed an office threshold. They also tend to forget their natural habits from their lives outside the office. And I will repeat it again – it’s natural to receive feedback close after action.
Technologies bring the new opportunities to the workplace, and people want to utilize the same technologies as they use outside the office. I call it to bring a real life to the office. It should help with Agile performance management too.

The best way to understand the importance of this process is to present yourself in the place of an employee.


Alexey Mitkin is Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief at The HR Tech Weekly® Online Media Co., the rapidly growing niche online media company running full-fledged digital ecosystem incl. paid, owned and earned media marketing clusters worldwide. Awarded Top 100 HR Blogs for Human Resource & Talent Management Experts. Ranked among Top 10 HR Tech Influencers on Twitter.

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