General Electric (GE) is one big company. They employ over 310,000 people and so any changes that they make to how they choose to manage those people is obviously big news. The people who run GE understand the importance of information technology and have decided that they want to transform how their company operates in order to remain successful in an ever changing marketplace. What this means is that they have decided to make some big changes to how they are going to go about evaluating their employees. If GE is changing, then should he person with the CIO job also be changing?
Despite being a very, very large company, GE is run like just about any other company out there. Perhaps it would be better to say that most companies are run like GE is. Each year GE employees sit down with their managers in order to conduct an annual evaluation process. The result of this discussion is that each employee is assigned a ranking that consists of one of five labels that range from “unsatisfactory” to “role model”. This system has been in place at GE for the past 40 years.
Things are changing at GE. Their CEO, Jeffrey Immelt is in the process of attempting to reshape the company. What he wants to do is to have the company once again focus on its core industrial business. In order to make this happen, GE realizes that it is going to have to get its workers to work in a different way. The company has spent the past few years attempting to reimagine just exactly how each of its workers could do their work. The company’s focus has been on trying to get their employees to do more experimentation and take more risks.
As the company prepares to make changes to how they evaluate their employees, they realize that this may cause problems. There will be employees who probably prefer the simplicity and familiarity of the existing label ranking system. The company is going to have to be aware of this and they are going to have to take steps to make sure that these employees are educated as to why the new system is going to be better for both the company and for them.
What Will The New GE Look Like?
So if GE is thinking about making changes to the way that they evaluate their employees, what will the new system look like? The first part of the system does away with the concept of workers and their manager only meeting once a year to talk about the worker’s job performance. Instead, GE is encouraging their employees and their managers to exchange frequent feedback. This feedback can take on many different forms. The company has created a mobile application called PD@GE for both parties to use. They are also encouraging in person meetings and phone discussions.
As each of these interactions take place over the course of a year, the results of these talks will all be compiled into a performance summary that will be created at the end of the year. The reason that GE is willing to make this big change is because it is what their employees have been asking for. In the new modern work climate, today’s workers expect more feedback from their managers. At the same time, companies have the right to expect their employees to act quickly on the feedback that is provided to them.
GE is hopeful that by getting rid of their ratings system, they will be able to create a workplace where richer and more meaningful conversations will occur between managers and employees. The hope is that neither party will now get distracted by a label being applied to the worker. The managers at GE are going to have to change now. They will be expected to provide their employees with meaningful feedback on how they have performed in the past and then provide them with specific steps that they need to take in order to improve their situation.
What All Of This Means For You
GE is planning on making some changes in how they evaluate their employees. This is a big deal because so many other firms have based the way that they run their companies on how GE does it. The marketplace is changing and GE believes that these changes are needed. The big question is if the person in the CIO position needs to start to think about making the same sets of changes?
GE has done their annual employee evaluations just like every other company does them. The worker meets with their boss and gets assigned one of five labels that indicate how good their work was over the past year. GE the company is trying to change. Going forward they want to focus on their core industrial business. In order to do this, GE is doing away with the annual performance meeting and replacing it with a series of worker / manager discussions that occur during the year. The thinking is that the manager can give feedback quicker and workers can then change how they work much quicker also.
What GE is trying to do sounds like a good idea. One significant problem that they may run into is that they are trying to change a system that has been in place for a very long time. They are going to have to move very carefully and they are going to have to make sure that all questions can be answered during the time of change. If they can do this, then GE should have many more happy employees who no longer have to be worried about being labeled.
Question For You: How many times during the year do you think GE managers and workers should have a talk about the employee’s job performance?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
You would think that by now, with all that has been written about the importance of information technology and the advantages of moving your IT operations into the cloud, the decision to move a company’s applications and storage into the cloud would be a no-brainer for the person with the CIO job. However, we’ve all made potentially decades of costly investments into our so-called “legacy systems” and these guys are both rigid and difficult to scale. Attempting to make any changes to them scares the pants off of us!