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Talent development and performance management

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By Lizelle van der Berg, Director – GCCA South Africa

Talent management is a strategy to create a high-performing, sustainable organisation that meets business goals today and into the future.

The process of managing performance is about giving employees regular feedback. Image credit: GCCA
The process of managing performance is about giving employees regular feedback. Image credit: GCCA

While it is a critical function to ensure an organisation’s sustainability, talent management is not just a department or a division within a company – it is a cultural philosophy that results in hiring the right people, identifying and developing future company leaders, and retaining key employees.

Although talent management focuses on developing talent and leaders from within the organisation, it includes more than a company’s practice to promote from within. Talent management is a strategic effort to identify promising leaders who can rise through the ranks with the proper support, training, and mentoring versus promoting someone based only on years of service or technical skill.

A performance review process that requires managers to meet with associates several times each year to discuss career and job objectives, conduct a mid-year assessment and perform an end-of-year evaluation, enables you to receive ongoing feedback on performance throughout the year.

The Global Cold Chain Alliance’s (GCCA) white paper on Performance Management Process Strategies written by Dr Jeremy Lurey, President & CEO of Plus Delta Consulting, highlights eight successful strategies to retain top talent and produce even better results. The process of managing performance is about giving employees feedback – both positive and constructive.

Dr Lurey explains that educating your managers about the critical role they play in managing performance and that performance management is not just your HR manager’s responsibility, it requires managers’ active involvement. Establishing a regular and consistent schedule for all performance management activities are as important.

Many warehouse managers hold a quick huddle session with their teams at the beginning of every shift to review their priorities for the day. Brief 1:1 check-ins on a weekly or monthly basis can be invaluable to keeping everyone in sync. More complete quarterly discussions are appropriate for reviewing progress with significant performance goals.

Managers also require support for their routine performance conversations with their employees. Standard frameworks like Stop-Start-Continue and Plus-Delta make it easy to take the emotions out of the process by following a consistent format every time.

Continue: What should your team member continue doing because it is producing positive results for the company and customers?

Start: What should your team member start doing to be a better leader/worker now that he/she has that strong foundation of performance?

Stop: What should your team member stop doing immediately because it is not producing positive results or may have some unintended consequences?

Standard frameworks like Stop-Start-Continue make it easy to take emotions out of the process by following a consistent format every time.
Standard frameworks like Stop-Start-Continue make it easy to take emotions out of the process by following a consistent format every time.

Plus-Delta entails asking your employee what is working well that we should continue doing in the future because it is producing positive results and then what the greatest opportunities are for improvement? What changes should we make to produce even better results moving forward?

Dr Lurey further proceeds to explain that simple employee recognition programmes need to be created so that managers can quickly and easily reinforce positive behaviours. It is common for managers to catch their employees doing something ‘wrong’ that needs to be corrected. Challenge your managers to catch their team members doing something ‘right’ on a regular basis too.

Whatever your recognition programme is – whether it’s monetary or non-monetary – make sure you have some system in place to recognise those employees who go above and beyond to meet your customers’ needs and improve your business results. Co-creating this programme with your managers and staff will also make it more effective.

The next strategy is to develop a consistent and objective performance evaluation form that rates employees on both their core competencies and individual performance goals. Professional excellence, solution-oriented, teamwork, respect, self-empowerment, customer focus, safety and sustainability and leadership skills were some of the different behavioural competencies we have identified with the GCCA refrigerated warehouse members in the past.

In addition to these performance factors, be sure to establish individual goals for your team members every year and monitor their progress in completing these goals. Managers need to be encouraged to focus on not only the past but also the future during their annual/bi-annual performance review. It is critical to discuss and identify your employees’ future goals as well, establishing clear development objectives for them to help team members not only succeed in their current roles but also get to the next level. So far, we have only discussed how managers must partner with HR to drive the ongoing performance management process.

“Although talent management focuses on developing talent and leaders from within the organisation, it includes more than a company’s practice to promote from within.”

Employees can also contribute to the process by completing their own self-assessments, evaluating their own performance any time they meet with their managers. This empowers employees to take ownership for their own performance and career development. Last but not the least, it is important to identify your employees’ broader learning and development needs.

This requires thinking collectively instead of more individually about performance and what training and talent development opportunities might address the changing needs of your workforce. Once everyone completes their annual reviews, look for any trends or key themes at a warehouse, department, or organisational level. Maybe your warehousemen need a quick refresher on basic sanitation or equipment maintenance. Maybe your customer service representatives would benefit from a group training on how best to handle difficult customers.

The purpose of any training programme is to improve employees’ job performance. Often, when we notice that someone is not performing his or her job to its full extent, we assume that training will fix the problem. Sometimes it will, but sometimes it will not. Poor performance can usually be attributed to a problem in one (or more) of four areas:

  1. Knowledge challenges (warehouse supervisors are unaware that they need to perform a routine inspection).
  2. Skill challenges (a receiving clerk cannot detect contamination by rodents or insects).
  3. Motivation challenges (a warehouse operator routinely arrives late for his/her shift).
  4. Systems challenges (an outdated WMS prevents operators from picking and loading in an acceptable turn time).

Some of these challenges can be solved through training while others may require coaching conversations, system upgrades or other corrective actions. In such cases, time and financial resources spent on training will be wasted and employees who are required to participate in training that is not beneficial will become frustrated.

A critical component of learning and development is to consider how best to build leadership capacity in your organisation. To be a great leader, professionals need to learn fundamental skills for coaching and developing their employees. In situations where training alone will not improve employee performance, sound management skills are needed to correctly diagnose and remedy the underlying problem.

What is GCCA South Africa doing in terms of talent development and performance management?

Labour continues to be the one of the greatest challenges in our industry; it is the highest cost for refrigerated warehouse operators in most countries. The GCCAs resources related to talent recruitment and retention help address that challenge.

The South Africa Cold Store Operations Short Course is hosted by GCCA, 15-18 February 2021. The purpose of the short course is to provide an opportunity for warehouse managers, controllers and supervisors to be trained on local and international best practices in cold store operations.

The short course is an industry-specific programme for professionals engaged in temperature-controlled logistics, offering classes taught by leading experts in the industry. Modules include: operations, food handling and temperature management, food safety – HACCP, energy management, innovations in technology, regulatory procedures, promoting a culture of safety, and customer service. This interactive short course will be 3 hours a day for 4 days, allowing attendees to participate during the workday.

Other GCCA information

GCCA South Africa will be launching the Productivity and Benchmarking Survey in January 2021. Members will be able to gain access to the only performance and benchmarking data for the temperature-controlled warehousing and logistics industry in South Africa. The online benchmarking platform allows participants to compare their warehouse operations to the industry average, evaluating their performance in valuable KPI categories such as labour expenses, electricity expenses, inventory turns and product throughput. Access to the online tool is only available to active warehouse members of the Global Cold Chain Alliance.

A call for volunteers will be going out soon for the GCCA South Africa Human Resource Committee. The purpose of this committee will be to provide a permanent space for discussion and study in order to  provide continuing direction for the creation, development, and execution of all training and development initiatives, SA recruitment and retention programmes and HR best practices. This committee will support the GCCA Strategic Initiatives of workforce innovation and market intelligence.

For any details on the initiatives or courses GCCA South Africa is running you can visit their website.