Employee engagement is critical to our success as a company. In this Q&A, Jennifer Weber discusses Duke Energy’s focus on individual accountability as key to building and sustaining a high-performance culture.
What is Duke Energy doing to manage talent for peak performance?
Duke Energy has always been focused on performance and results. However, in 2010 we enhanced our performance management process to help managers and employees be more successful. Critical components of this new approach:
- Train all managers on the enhanced process and our philosophy of a high-performance culture and employee engagement.
- Provide effective coaching and feedback to all employees.
- Develop clear goals that are aligned with company goals, to help employees understand how they impact company results.
- Link merit and incentive opportunities to drive individual accountability.
- Provide more effective online tools to help managers set goals and track performance.
After one year, the new performance management process paid off, as evidenced by the 2011 Employee Opinion Survey. “Rewarding performance” scores are the highest they’ve been since 2006. Ratings on manager effectiveness rose dramatically and are 7 percentage points above the national norm.
We believe the key drivers for these improved scores are in-depth performance discussions between employees and their managers, and performance-based compensation. Our managers also quickly embraced the new process, set the expectations, and better understood their role in helping employees develop their skills and perform to their potential.
What do you mean by employee engagement, and why does it matter?
We define employee engagement as the extent to which employees are willing to put forth discretionary effort to help the company succeed. Engaged employees care about their work and the performance of the company, and they understand how their efforts impact results.
Research shows that highly engaged employees drive business success because they take responsibility for the quality of work, controlling costs, customer satisfaction and innovative ideas. Employee engagement is a critical outcome of our focus on performance and manager effectiveness.
How does the company empower employees to take ownership for managing their careers?
In several ways. As part of the performance management process, managers have periodic career discussions with employees, creating a collaborative goal-setting environment.
Employees have an opportunity to create individual career development plans — a road map of their career aspirations and how they can achieve them. And they are encouraged to maintain Live Profiles (online resumes) in our talent management system. These profiles are used to search for employees with specific qualifications for special assignments, projects or key company positions.
Employees also have access to self-serve resources on our employee Portal — including company-sponsored training, competency self-assessment and resources for career development. However, nothing is more important than initiating career development discussions with managers and mentors.
How will Duke Energy build on the positive results you are seeing from the enhanced performance management process?
One of the most effective ways we can do that is by listening. In 2011, we held focus groups with managers. We heard that they appreciate the increased emphasis on and rigor around performance management, especially goal setting and required competencies.
However, they recommended two areas for improvement — enhancing the online tool we use to track and measure employee performance, and providing more mentoring and coaching opportunities for employees. As a result, we upgraded our talent management tool, and we plan to implement new mentoring and coaching programs in 2012.
Managers are also held accountable for employee development and have two required performance management goals — “Communicating with Impact” and “Developing Employees.”
Our managers play a critical role in helping to build and sustain a high-performance culture. We believe their efforts will ensure that we deliver on our company’s objectives.