In South Africa, and around the world, employee engagement levels are worryingly low. Several reports have indicated that the majority of South African employees are disengaged, unmotivated and uninspired.
Often, this is due to a lack of transparency and communication around company and departmental goals, expectations and targets. For the most part, managers and executives are failing to communicate effectively with their teams, and individual workers are failing to deliver on the targets assigned to them.
Employers are frustrated by tasks that are not seen through, while employees don’t know if they are adding any real value to the organisation. This, in turn, creates a vicious cycle in which business performance suffers.
“In most companies today, there is a general lack of awareness around goals and expectations, and key stakeholders are being left in the dark,” says Gareth Hawkey, CEO at enterprise software development firm redPanda Software. “Executives have no idea where delivery is falling short and where to begin troubleshooting, while employees often feel under appreciated in their efforts to deliver on vague targets and goals.”
Having recognised this challenge and its negative consequences for SA business at large, redPanda Software has developed an enterprise task management system called Novum that seeks to bring transparency to workflow management and simultaneously provide objective feedback for employees.
By creating very clear daily tasks for employees that are visible to the entire organisation, employees will have much needed clarity around deliverables and deadlines. Importantly for managers, they will be able to track tasks and projects, and monitor the progress.
Even in cases where tasks or problems are transferred to another department or a third party, such cases will be tracked and reported on. This will eliminate the likelihood of tasks being ignored or lost in transition.
“This system essentially allows management to see where any potential black holes lie,” says Hawkey. “It enables everyone to see what has been agreed upon, which automatically creates accountability and forces individuals and teams to take ownership of their work.”
Critically, this system creates clear goals and puts in place transparent measurements for employees. They can thus be objectively rewarded and recognised, and any subsequent bonuses, benefits or promotions will be firmly based on data. It erases any grey areas around key performance indicators and targets, and removes any potential conflict or resentment between employees.
“Novum also encourages free flowing communication, and helps managers to start conversations around performance and productivity,” explains Hawkey. “Whereas most companies wait for that six-month mark to discuss KPIs, they can now have these conversations on a regular basis and help employees to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Employees can thus be recognised for their efforts, and they can also be supported with training and new tools in areas where they are struggling.”
As with any new tool or platform, success and adoption rates depend on the organisational culture. Organisations need to ensure that they have an open and transparent culture embedded throughout, which encourages collaboration and knowledge sharing. In addition, adoption needs to be driven and supported by senior management, and acknowledged as a key strategic tool to drive productivity and overall employee wellbeing.
“For senior leaders, we also recommend that any measurements and indicators should be actionable, and empower employees to take positive steps forward,” says Hawkey. “Always focus on the positives, and let the great become the goal.”