LMS And Videotelephony Technology: A Partnership
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An Ideal Complementary Technical Partnership

For a long time, I have dreamed of implementing solutions to problems that have irked so many of the captains of industry that I have worked with. These solutions would combine the brilliant insights of the many incredible thought leaders that I have been privileged to work with. However, technology has always somehow been the Achilles' Heel. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I thought I had the solution when I made a series of award-winning, interactive videos. But, they fell short of my expectations. More recently, I have had the sense that LMS technology offers the desired solutions. It goes a long way but falls short of being the total solution. Partnering videotelephony technology with LMS technology offers the opportunity to create a complete solution, especially given the changes to ways of working forced by COVID-19. I use Zoom, but many other videotelephony apps will work equally well.

The scope of this article only allows the for a high-level examination of 2 examples of how videotelephony technology and LMS technology can complement each other to solve challenges/opportunities that have concerned leaders for decades, namely:

1. Current Performance Management Systems And Processes Fail To Deliver Because They Are Too Administratively Burdensome, Review Periods Are Too Long And They Lack Visible Objectivity

In an address to captains of industry in the 1990s, Stephen Covey once likened performance appraisals to the modern equivalent of blood-letting. He got a standing ovation for this. To date, I have not met a chief executive who is satisfied that the performance management system used in their organization fully delivers. The opportunity exists to resolve this by combining the powerful features that LMS and videotelephony technology offer. It will require an adjustment of mindset and approach.

Specifically, it requires the adoption of an effort-based mindset, supported by lead-lag and balanced scorecard approaches to goal setting. It also requires the development or adoption of a holistic capability model with a comprehensive means of gathering 360-degree feedback, which also includes a self-evaluation process. Both the 360-degree feedback and the self-assessment must be able to be summed up and compared in an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand, easy to compare visual summary (this can be achieved using an algorithm—we use the "we-shine" methodology).

This process should reside within the company LMS and provide the required levels of confidentiality. Balanced scorecard principles would ensure that the organization adopts a balanced approach to overall goal-setting, and lead-lag principles would ensure that each team throughout the organization is clear on the lead goals that they need to achieve in any specific period to support overall organizational goals.

LMS/videotelephony technology can support an amazingly simple, easy-to-use, credible performance management process as follows:

  • Periodically, each employee together with a select group of their colleagues is invited to participate in a self-assessment, together with a 360-degree performance feedback exercise. The 360-degree feedback as well as a self-assessment for each employee resides in their LMS portal together with the follow-up recordings of the developmental discussions, as recorded on Zoom. Where it can add value, participants to the 360-degree feedback can be invited to the periodic reviews to give insight or examples to support the ratings they gave. Each employee is responsible for setting up regular reviews on Zoom with their team leader/manager. The overall rating for any period could be moderated by the team leader/manager on the basis of evidence that the person has taken successful action to work on identified developmental areas and/or successfully undertaken lead objectives to support team/organizational objectives. We have a specific process for this, but I am sure this would differ from organization to organization. The feedback can be accessed for the last period or as a cumulative rating for any number of periods.
  • In addition, each team leader/manager is charged with updating progress, on their LMS portal, against their team's lead goals for the period. This progress is presented graphically and can be accessed by the executive team along with an invitation via Zoom to the team's weekly progress meeting. This enables relevant executives to join the team meeting with a view to recognizing excellent performance or to offering assistance where the team is falling behind on a significant lead objective/goal. Importantly, the chief executive would have a dashboard showing the progress on all key lead goals throughout the organization and would be able to request the relevant executive to take corrective action in any area where a key lead goal is not being achieved.
  • The performance of each team against their lead goals/objectives would be rated for each period as well as cumulatively for any number of periods (as decided by the executive team).
  • The annual performance rating of any employee is simply a function of their team rating for the period, factored up or down by their personal rating. This would not be a surprise to any individual as an algorithm would provide them with a "moving" rating as they progress through the period, giving them ample opportunity to improve their overall rating by improving their individual rating or by participating in actions that will improve their team's rating.
  • This process is simple, managed by the LMS, driven by the relevant employee and team leader/manager. Most importantly, all lead goals are relevant because they are aligned with the organization's overall lag objectives, and the process is visibly objective. Videotelephony technology allows relevant SMEs/executives to join individual or team reviews to recognize good performance or to offer assistance or coaching as required.

2. Organization Development Initiatives Are Mostly Reactive And Often Only Occur When Necessitated By A Need For Change

Organization development should be systematic, holistic, informed, non-stop and evolutionary. Professor Con Kruger is acknowledged with successfully implementing an approach to this, using a survey-guided organization development methodology. We have developed a holistic inclusive model, with metrics, algorithms, and methodologies which allow this process to reside in the organization's LMS. You can too! And, this is how LMS/videotelephony technology can facilitate this approach:

  • Periodically, all employees are invited via their LMS portal to participate in the organizational development survey.
  • An algorithm collates the data and displays it in an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand format for each team on their team leader/manager's portal. The algorithm also aggregates results for multiple teams into departments and then departments into divisions and so on until there is a set of results for the entire organization.
  • Team leaders/managers set up Zoom meetings to discuss the results with their team. They could invite an SME to offer insights and to assist the team to develop action plans to resolve opportunities for improvement. Some issues may require a company-wide, coordinated plan. Executives would be given access to join relevant meetings. Action plans would be published on each team leader/manager's portal together with follow-up dates and invitations to relevant SMEs/executives to join meetings. The executive group would have sight of all action plans and progress through the executive dashboard that resides in the LMS.
  • Periodically, the survey (accordingly adjusted) would be re-administered and the process would start again, ensuring that the organization is continually evolving to meet new challenges.

Summary

The scope of this article allows for only giving 2 examples and could by definition only engage in high-level discussion. However, the opportunities abound, and personally I am excited to make this opportunity deliver. In the words of Winston Churchill, when he became Prime Minister of Britain during a critical time in the Second World War, "I felt as If I was walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this trial...I thought I knew a good deal about it all, I was sure I should not fail."

I hope that this article will inspire readers to see the opportunity and feel as excited about it as I do. Hopefully, they will read my follow-up articles on the opportunities that this amazing technology partnership offers.

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