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Active Performance: A Q&A with Anika Gakovic, VP of Organizational Effectiveness, OppenheimerFunds Contributor: HR IQ Posted: 03/28/2016 12:00:00 AM EDT

Active Performance: A Q&A with Anika Gakovic, VP of Organizational Effectiveness, OppenheimerFunds
Contributor:  HR IQ 
Posted:  03/28/2016  12:00:00 AM EDT

When Anika Gakovic discusses her role as Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness at OppenheimerFunds, the alignment of her own beliefs with the company’s high-conviction culture quickly becomes apparent.

“Especially in an active asset management business like ours, where the work we do is critically dependent on our people, it’s up to us to optimize talent and help employees grow with the company. It’s a privilege to be able to contribute to the performance management, which enables that to happen.”
Business capabilities create value for clients and competitive differentiation in the marketplace.
In terms of how we ensure this happens, our senior leadership team sets the company strategy and is quite engaged in explaining both business direction as well as alignment across departments. This direction cascades through the performance management to goal setting that clarifies how each employee contributes to executing that strategy and, through development conversations throughout the year, what kind of learning individuals need in order to grow with the firm.
 
 
This is one way we ensure leader support. Here at OppenheimerFunds, we are lucky to have leaders who are quite engaged. Our department heads personally send out quarterly messaging, which sets expectations around performance management - whether setting goals at the beginning of the year or having development conversations later on. We, on the organizational effectiveness team with our HR business partners, provide leaders with the templates and reminders necessary to make that messaging happen. It’s a high-touch approach that ensures consistency and coherence.
Another issue is the belief that performance management is an annual, oftentimes end-of-year process. This is a fear-based approach that leaves employees in agony awaiting their verdict and managers struggling to make a case for their employees. To address this, we’ve created a quarterly approach that involves balanced conversations around performance management to reduce year-end surprises. In fact, some of our departments engage in monthly conversations. Through training and tools, we remind managers to be prepared to have sometimes difficult conversations. We remind employees that they own the performance dialog as they initiate the entry of progress notes and facilitate the conversation, which is followed by managers’ feedback.
As I mentioned, we have this high-touch approach, which is driven by the partnership between the organizational effectiveness team and our HR business partners so that we remind employees and their managers about the expectations around their conversations. For example, if I’m facilitating a program with business leaders, I’ll remind them about implications of their offsite agreements for performance goal setting. Or, during a team-building session, we’ll remind people about the development goals that relate back to what they agreed upon in teamwork-operating principles.
Creating useful new habits of any kind is a very human challenge and even more so in the busy world of work.
Second, we created an advisory committee this year to help us continue to evolve our performance management design and so our HR business partners who are part of that committee are helping us create improved relevance for the business and sustainability of our approach.
How do culture and context shape performance management strategy?
One example of how we built cultural buy-in for shaping performance management is a pilot program we started two years ago to remove performance ratings and forced rankings in order to shift to a more balanced and transparent approach. After piloting this initiative in several business groups and receiving positive feedback, we were able
 
 
Ultimately, we are contributing to building an even better culture and business success.

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