Beyond the Individual: Performance Management Tips for Networked Teams

In the past, there was the boss and the employee. Annual reviews were one-on-one (we know how well those worked out…) and goals were defined on an individual basis. In fact, almost everything about performance management was focused on individual employees. Even if that employee worked as a member of a larger team or department, their performance was traditionally assessed based on their own achievements and skills.

But in recent decades, the organization of work has shifted – from an individual focus to a team-based focus. There are functional teams and cross-functional teams, teams created to achieve a specific goal or work on a particular project, teams based on geographies and those based on skill-sets. These teams do not function in silos, but instead operate as part of larger networks – interacting and collaborating together to achieve shared results.


The following diagram from a Deloitte report, “Rewriting the Rules for the Digital Age” illustrates simply the differences in work organizational structures of the past and today:




Today’s office design trends also follow this new paradigm, creating different spaces types for collaborative work – from open and casual brainstorming or lounge areas, to social space to encourage networking and idea sharing, and shared bench-style seating to foster more open dialogue.

The hierarchical, individual approach to work no longer supports today’s fast-moving, collaborative nature. Companies that want to keep pace with the competitive marketplace and support innovation are embracing a culture of teams and networks of teams. And this includes performance management.


Networked Teams are the Future of Organizational Design

The Deloitte report mentioned above clearly explained the driving force behind the networked team organizational structure:

“As organizations become more digital, they face a growing imperative to redesign themselves to move faster, adapt more quickly, facilitate rapid learning, and embrace the dynamic career demands of their people."

The old, hierarchical organizational models were formed for pre-technology industrial businesses, which functioned well when individuals were focused on a single expertise. However, the report found that only 14 percent of executive survey respondents believe that those traditional organizational models make their business highly effective today.

In today’s environment of disruption and speed, organizations must be built for agility and adaptability to remain competitive and successful in today’s global business environment.


Performance Management Strategies for Networked Teams

Does this mean that individual employees are no longer accountable for their own contributions to their team or the business as a whole? Not even close. Accountability is ramped up even more when it comes to networks of teams, relying on transparency and shared goals to drive performance. The foundational strategies for today’s performance management should include:

1. Goal Setting for Individuals and Team
Clearly defined goals and metrics should be set for both individuals and the team as a whole, and shared for everyone to see. This transparency establishes a culture of accountability and encourages shared motivation to achieve a successful result.

2. Teams Should Be Short-Term, Achievement-Based and Agile
When teams are established with a clearly defined goal, they can work toward achieving that goal and, once completed, the team can be disbanded and individuals reassigned to a new project. This agile approach helps individuals make use of their different skillsets and talents, and maintains a constant culture of innovation.

3. Leaders of Networked Teams Need Different Skills
Traditional leadership skills are not necessarily effective for leading today’s agile, digital networked teams. The most important skills for team leaders to possess include their network intelligence (knowledge of what’s going on in their company, the industry, and the marketplace as a whole), as well as systems thinking and negotiation skills. 

4. Encourage Continuous Feedback
Regular, informal feedback from fellow team members, team leaders, adjacent teams, and other relevant parties using digital survey tools can provide immediate information that helps people to adjust goals, change projects, grow their skills continuously, and receive regular acknowledgement of their efforts and achievements.



Interested in learning more about what’s changing in performance management? Take a look at our research report below.


What's New in Employee Performance Management Trends?



Published May 10, 2017 | Written By Natalie Wickham