At KPMG, It Pays To Have A Good Dialogue

Mumbai: | Updated: Jan 23 2003, 05:30am hrs
The ability to engage in rich inter-personal discussions and presentations are clearly important for a management consultant. But at KPMG India, this core competence is refined and taken one step forward through the use of the time-tested technique of dialogue.

And now, in a shift from using dialogue as just a technique to deliberate on business dynamics, the consulting firm is now integrating this with the performance management systems (PMS) in the enterprise. Dialogue is a part of the companys global performance management process. It is a structured conversation that veers around specific goals, objectives and action plans that need to be implemented within a defined timespan. The process of dialogue is complete when the feedback is finally deployed in the organisation for long-term benefits.

The firm believes that this endeavour has enabled the staff to maximise their potentialboth as individuals and collectively as a firm. Accordingly, performance assessments conclude with a rating of performance, based on a three-point scale and it includes certain parameters like exceptional performance, strong performance and needs improvement.

This is how the technique is deployed: The firm has evolved a 9-Box tool as a process to facilitate richer, multi-dimensional performance discussions with people about their performance, work style, skills and personal development. The tool is a grid illustrating different degrees of accomplishments across two dimensions of performance: what was achieved and how it was achieved.

The company affirms that dialogue provides a balanced focus to performance management in many ways. It requires goals to be set in both financial and non-financial areas across the global values of its clients, that being people and knowledge. It also incorporates the use of a 9-Box tool to bring clarity and balance to performance management discussions.

Also, dialogue is built around a common set of eight competencies, knowledge, skills and behaviour required by all KPMG people. Everyone in the firm is expected to demonstrate these competencies at one of the three levels: team member, manager or leader.

According to the firm, along with its integration with PMS the practice is also aimed at enhancing team dynamics and better collaboration. Ensuring that staff know the firms discipline and goals has led to increased communication between individuals and their performance managers, according to the company. A lot of processes like hiring and training have been reworked to incorporate the dialogue competencies and bring about consistency in all processes.

So what are the deliverables that dialogue has been able to accomplish

Following are some of them according to the company:

* Staff goals are now agreed upon after business plans have been developed, so that the firms overall strategic objectives cascade down to the level of individual goals. This aligns their contribution with the broader team and firm goals.

* Dialogue now allows the organisation to share a perspective on success with common criteria for judging performance.

* It attracts and retains the best talent.

* Dialogues common standards have enabled the organisation to identify high performers wherever they are.

Finally, the company believes that successful performance is a function of not only what is achieved, but also how it is achieved. And thats how dialogue helps the firm.