GE Chucks Feed­back, Em­braces In­ter­ac­tion by Other Names

Man­agers at the Amer­i­can con­glom­er­ate feel that the word ‘feed­back’ has neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions

The Economic Times - - Career & Business Life - Brinda.Das­gupta@ times­

Bengaluru: Em­ploy­ees at Gen­eral Elec­tric no longer get feed­back on their work. The man­agers at the Amer­i­can con­glom­er­ate feel that the word ‘feed­back’ has neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions and any sug­ges­tion of a dis­cus­sion re­lated to it im­me­di­ately has em­ploy­ees won­der­ing what they have done wrong.

“In­stead, we’ve now made a con­scious de­ci­sion to in­vite em­ploy­ees to ‘con­tinue’ or ‘con­sider’ a par­tic­u­lar ac­tion. This helps shape be­hav­iour with a proac­tive, for­ward-look­ing ap­proach,” said Raghu Kr­ish­namoor­thy, global vice-pres­i­dent for hu­man re­sources at GE Health­care.

All em­ploy­ees at GE have ac­cess to a mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion which al­lows them to up­load short-term goals or ‘pri­or­i­ties’, have dis­cus­sions or talk about ‘touch points’ with their man­agers and use pro­fes­sional ‘in­sights’ that are of­fered.

This sys­tem, Kr­ish­namoor­thy said, has ad­van­tages over the nor­mal an­nual ap­praisal sys­tem be­cause of the real-time feed­back of­fered and al­lows em­ploy­ees to put changes into im­me­di­ate ef­fect rather than wait­ing till the end of the year.

The app is also linked to train­ing and of­fers em­ploy­ees rec­om­men­da­tions on blogs, we­bi­nars and classes they can take to sharpen their pro­fes­sional ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Since the fi­nan­cial melt­down in 2008-09, the firm has put in place a num­ber of trans­for­ma­tional mea­sures such as a sharper fo­cus on ramp­ing up growth out­side the US, es­pe­cially in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, and em­brac­ing a more dig­i­tal cul­ture built on speed as well as scale. These mea­sures have helped GE move from be­ing a process-ori­ented com­pany to one that is more ag­ile and hor­i­zon­tal, where dif­fer­ent func­tions have ac­cess to com­mon re­sources and pro­mote in­for­ma­tion flow and knowl­edge-shar­ing. It has adopted var­i­ous sys­tems and tools to drive this mas­sive cul­ture change, pri­mar­ily switch­ing to con­stant and on­go­ing per­for­mance devel­op­ment from an an­nual sys­tem of eval­u­a­tion. The com­pany also en­cour­ages em­ploy­ees to con­stantly im­prove on prod­ucts rather than deal with the pres­sure to get it ab­so­lutely per­fect the first time round. The FastWorks ini­tia­tive, in­spired in part by the startup prin­ci­ple of con­stantly learn­ing and piv­ot­ing, al­lows cus­tomers to be­come part of the process and prod­uct through a more in­ter­ac­tive process than be­fore.

More re­cently, GE Health­care, a sub­sidiary un­der GE, rolled out two pro­grammes in In­dia specif­i­cally tar­geted at women. The first, ‘Restart’, aims to bring back women who went on ca­reer breaks back into the work­force. Through ‘Wings’, the firm is plan­ning to in­crease the num­ber of women in the front­line work­force, specif­i­cally in roles of sales and ser­vice. “We are hir­ing women, who are put through a six-month train­ing pro­gramme and placed in lo­ca­tions con­ve­nient to them. This has greatly in­creased our gen­der di­ver­sity num­bers,” said Kr­ish­namoor­thy.

With a fo­cus on driv­ing com­pany be­liefs and cul­ture, GE Health­care plans to con­duct weekly sur­veys among all em­ploy­ees, who will be asked to choose the ap­pro­pri­ate an­swer to be­hav­iour and ethics-re­lated hy­po­thet­i­cal ques­tions.

“Sim­ply talk­ing about cul­ture isn’t enough; we want to am­plify com­pany be­liefs across each em­ployee so that they truly con­trib­ute to what the or­gan­i­sa­tion stands for,” said Kr­ish­namoor­thy.

As with any other or­gan­i­sa­tion, mil­len­ni­als re­main a fo­cal point at GE.

The com­pany also al­lows for re­verse men­tor­ing, un­der which younger tal­ent men­tors se­nior lead­ers in newer tech­nolo­gies and pro­vide unique in­sights. “While youth can learn from ex­pe­ri­ence, the con­verse is also true,” said Milan Rao, pres­i­dent, GE Health­care South Asia and In­dia.

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