Two of our colleagues were the lucky recipients of a very special dinner invitation. They were invited to General Electric's headquarters in Fairfield, Connecticut, along with a few other colleagues from Corporate and Oil&Gas, for the purpose of providing feedback about the Performance Development tool.
Jeff Immelt is the main promoter of the tool designed to help assess and develop all GE employees, and he has been keeping a close eye (as this invitation shows) on the experience of the first businesses to adopt it on a pilot basis. The guests at the PD dinner and feedback session were all role models in the use of the tool, and were specifically selected on the basis of diversity and the need to represent a wide range of functions.
Our colleagues Piera Carrà and Alfredo Marin were the lucky recipients of an invitation to take part in this memorable experience, and we asked them three questions on behalf of our readers.
Dinner with Jeff Immelt…how would you sum up your experience in three lines?
Piera: “Having dinner with the CEO of General Electric is obviously an exciting and unforgettable experience. Jeff turned out to be friendly and straightforward, and was genuinely interested in finding out what we really thought about the PD tool. That was the entire focus of our conversation. He asked us to talk him through some practical examples of our experience with it, to help him understand the impact of the new process. He's a very good listener. The EMS is now coming to an end and will rightly give way to a more innovative approach."
Alfredo: "It was very interesting. Jeff showed a keen personal interest in the Performance Development initiative. He's totally committed to it and very curious about how the pilot stage is going. Discussing PD with colleagues from different divisions also gave me a broader view of the work being done on it. And visiting Fairfield gave me a clearer insight into the workings of Corporate.”
What key messages did you bring back from the event?
Piera: “The opportunity to meet colleagues from other businesses who are also involved in the PD pilot project was an ideal way to exchange experiences. What I realised is that our views on the challenges and opportunities generated by this new approach are pretty much in line. Everyone was very positive in general. This new approach is going to require cultural change, and much depends on the attitude and good will of the people involved. Like GE, lots of other companies are reformulating their Performance Management systems."
Alfredo: "Corporate's Senior Leadership Team HR and Jeff himself are acutely aware of the need to adapt our personnel management systems to the prevailing context both inside and outside General Electric, which has changed in recent years, and is still changing at breakneck speed. EMS has played a vital role in the development of GE's management to date, but the future will definitely be based on Performance Development. As a participant in the pilot project, Avio Aero is responsible for (and honoured to) contribute to the fine-tuning of this system.”
Has your approach to Performance Development and its underlying philosophy changed?
Piera: "Avio Aero has made a major contribution to the pilot project, and being invited to give feedback about it has obviously increased my sense of involvement. But rather than focusing on the tool itself, we need to concentrate on the key concepts (priorities, touchpoints, insights) and keep up the necessary momentum to support the philosophy that lies at the root of the process. This is an informal approach that imposes far fewer obligations, so it's up to us, more than ever, to move things forward.”
Alfredo: “I liked the system as soon as I started using it. But the meeting in Fairfield was still an effective means of raising awareness of how central PD is to GE's overall management system, and of highlighting the potential that's emerging from other pilot projects in Oil&Gas and Transportation.”