The Employee Development Honor Roll: Hitachi Data Systems - HighGround

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The Employee Development Honor Roll: Hitachi Data Systems

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(In this blog series, we share the stories of companies that have taken the first steps toward their employee development transformation. You can read about our previously featured companies here: Patagonia’s transition to real-time employee development; Adobe’s check-in culture; Goldman Sachs’ decision to remove rankings and Gap’s new GPS system.


For the last installment of the series, we are taking a different approach. The other companies we profiled already have new approaches in place so we wanted to hear from a company that’s earlier in their journey to ongoing performance development. We asked Hitachi Data Systems’ Rupa Amin, Sr. Lead Performance and Talent Management Specialist, and Petter Andersson, VP Global Talent Management, a few questions about their approach to performance management and employee development.

What led to Hitachi’s employee development transformation?

Hitachi has a long history of innovation and a demonstrated ability to re-define markets. We know that our success at large depends on Hitachi continuing being a great place to work and harnessing the full capabilities and potential of our employees. With such understanding, it’s vital for us to continuously challenge ourselves and ask, “How can we do this better?” When we took a look at results from our employee engagement survey, and listened to feedback from leaders and employees throughout our company, we found our past performance management process was not driving the desired outcomes it intended. Armed with data and information, we embarked on a journey to revitalize our approach. We had one very clear vision in front of us: making all employees perform their best, taking their teams and organization to the next level of success.

Why do you think so many organizations are undergoing the same self-examination right now?

We live in such an exciting era of progression and rapid change across industries. At the same time, there is a risk that with the high pace, employees might feel left behind, unclear about the direction, goals and objectives or paths for development and growth. The requirements on how we need to work and lead organizations are so different than how it was done just 10 years ago. Just like Hitachi, many companies need to renew their understanding of how individuals engage with their managers, teams and organizations. Therefore, most companies need to take the time to examine their people processes. If not, with all options at their fingertips, key talent will leave, or even worse, be swept from underneath them. In order for us to stay competitive and provide the best working environment, we all must look at the ways we provide opportunities for our employees to perform and grow.

What new strategies are having the biggest impact on employee performance?

We believe the base requirement for a high-performing organization is to enable trust and an ongoing two-way conversation between managers and employees across our entire organization. With that as a foundation, we can then enable better clarity around expectations, inspire each other, identify barriers for performance and seek areas of improvements. In our first year of introducing our new approach to performance management, we had a 15% increase in manager – employee performance conversations (over 700 more performance conversations took place in 2016 compared to the year before). The increase in both quantity as well as quality of the conversations led to other very positive effects such as improved clarity around goals, understanding how performance is evaluated and transparency around career requirements.

In conclusion

The old, dated ways of annual reviews and one-way communication simply don’t work anymore, but we know it can be difficult to take the first step. In this series, our goal was to provide a deeper look into how five companies approached their employee development transformations in hopes of inspiring you to begin yours. Are you taking the first steps toward transformation? Do you want to learn more about other companies that are shifting their strategies to a real-time approach?

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