I wonder, how would Santa review his Reindeer performance?

Arguably one of the hottest HR topics of 2017 has been the area of Performance Management, perhaps just nudged into second place by ‘AI’.  The talk about the removal of annual reviews and performance ratings picked up where it left off in 2016, as did the conversation around ‘continuous conversations’.  I can’t see the debate losing steam any time soon.

Given the festive season is upon us, I started wondering how Santa goes about his HR practices.  Afterall, Mr Claus does have a very big job to do in a very short amount of time, and failure to meet the demanding objectives and key results would incur the wrath of many stakeholders (would it be the children or their parents that are most dissatisfied?).

The performance pressure must be intense.

Would there be a set of clear Values?

Fun?  Innovation?  Teamwork?  These are very popular in many organisations, why not The Santa Company?  How forcefully would Values be enforced, and would he be willing to dismiss team members who didn’t behave according to set expectations?  What would be the consequence of laughing at others and calling them names, despite the fact that good reindeers are hard to find.

Would position descriptions be used?

Almost everything in the world of HR is linked in some way to a position description – hiring, evaluation, and dismissal just to name a few.  Would Santa bother putting a formal PD in place with clear responsibilities?  Would each reindeer have a consistent PD?  Would Rudolph be overly favoured just because he had a bright shiny nose?

Which measures would be relied on?

Would it be based on individual or team performance, or a little bit of both?   Surely each member of the team would have to pull their weight!   With plenty to do, I wonder how closely Santa would be able to accurately monitor individual performance?  I am sure there is an App to collect the number of parcels stomped on and parking infringements incurred.

Would an Engagement Survey be used?

Surely the great man could inspire average levels of engagement amongst his team, at least above the figures regularly quoted by Gallup!   If so, what items would he measure, and how often?  Would a standard ‘benchmarked’ survey be in any way useful?  Can The Santa Company be realistically compared to other not-for-profit logistics organisations?

Santa relies on a performance drumbeat to get it done

Let’s not forget, there is an entire operation behind the scenes that, whilst not receiving much of the glory, contribute in no small way to the success of The Santa Company.  Whilst I have never met Santa or anyone who has worked for him, I would like to think that he is a thoughtful leader who understands the importance of maintaining a clear and consistent set of habits that everyone in the organisation commits to.  We simply refer to this as the performance drumbeat.

In early 2018, we are launching an updated version of our My Employee Life platform to support our customers to create their own performance drumbeat, and elevate performance to a new level.  If you haven’t already, connect with us to learn more.

From the entire team at Optimum Consulting Group, have a safe festive period and a prosperous new year.

Jason Buchanan – General Manager, Insights & Innovation

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