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Break the System - DEVELOP

Give your HR the help they need. The help they get is the help your employees need and what your employees need is what the business need. Break the system, because your employees need you!


In the past year, I wrote about Employee Experience (EE) and why it is the change workplaces need. We have created an Employee Experience Design Framework and tested our theories with five companies for free. Yes, you missed it, sorry! A lot of work has been done changing, adjusting and sometimes throwing everything out we thought would work.


Our EE audits showed that organisations are more concerned about their systems than their users (employees). So we reverse-engineered everything and created a framework that allows organisations to design their EE with people in mind. It is not that difficult.


We broke EE into seven pillars (that's the basic level):


ATTRACT | HIRE | ONBOARD | MOTIVATE | PERFORM | DEVELOP | EXIT


Let's look at DEVELOP: Designing Experiences From The Candidate's Point of View.


Every section starts with a question: How Do You Want Employees To Feel About Their Development? Guess what, HR and leaders find it very difficult to articulate it:-) It is not easy because we have never been taught to think that way. We have been taught to run processes.


Here are some of the questions our audit toolkit includes:

  • Do you know what type of development your employees want? Self-led or managed? How do you measure it? What do they say? 

  • Do you have a talent database? How does it work?

  •  Do you have a structured development framework? How does it work? 

  • Does that structure allow flexibility in learning based on the unique needs, talents, and aspirations of employees? How does it work? 

  •  Do your career paths have different options based on the unique needs of the employee? How does it work? 

  • Is your development program/plan talent or competency-based? How does it work? 

  • Is your development program/plan customised? How does that work? 

  • How do you measure your employees' experiences regarding their development? What does the data say or suggest?


My biggest problem with talent development is that it ignores the talent. Programs are copy-paste, off-the-shelf, and mostly designed around the nonsensical competency framework. If we ask a talent development professional what is the definition of talent and how that works together with those competencies they quickly realise the problem. 


Talent development focuses on the development of competencies wrongly believing that it will lead to performance. Unfortunately, there is no scientific proof for the necessity of possessing or acquiring certain competencies yielding in performance. That data does not exist only in the world of Debbie. 


Secondly, PAY ATTENTION, about the potential conundrum. Saying that people have potential, simply means that they have the capacity to grow and learn. Now, as far as I observed during my 20 years of working, everyone in organisations has that, otherwise they would not be there. So when we say she is low potential but he is high potential do we mean that her ability to grow and learn is lower than his? Ok, how on earth did Jennifer, a beauty school college dropout, who became a Talent or HR person with her CIPD qualification figure that one out? 


We cannot create a "potential apartheid" in organisations based on the opinion of Jennifer. There are ways to assess natural talent and those may or may not indicate a higher potential towards certain activities or roles but these are not scientific interventions. Even if they were, do organisations have qualified people to run and interpret such assessments? I didn't think so. 

We can have conversations about whether the person has the capacity to learn and grow into a specific role but even that can be challenging because how many times we have been proven wrong about it? Millions! Human beings are very complex and the High-Po and Low-Po programs are some of the most subjective practices we have in organisations. 


High-Po basically means = I like her/him and has very little to do with the person's ability to learn and grow. It is more about who we take a chance on, and I am ok with that. 

So Jennifer, hold your horses and redesign your talent development structure from A-Z because the current one gives everyone the creep. It ignores everyone's talent, needs, and wants, it is designed with children in mind and doesn't lead to development or higher performance. So what does it actually do? Your programs are forced upon (assigned), boring, and disconnected from implementation. They lack accountability and attention, and most act as hammers, busy hitting people (square pegs) into the round hole (competency framework). 


People do not want to be beaten into shape or told what, how and when to learn. People are happy to take responsibility for their development as long as they know what you expect of them and you guide how to get there. People don't want to be sent for workshops because you need to meet your training KPIs. 


Scale back, get rid of everything, and start again. Allow freedom but implement accountability. And for the LOVE OF GOD, SEPARATE THE PLANNING OF LEARNING FROM ANNUAL APPRAISALS! When you combine the two, learning feels like a consequence of failure in your job. Learning must be fun! Learning must not be hidden! Yes, hidden. Many professionals hide their courses, their coaching or mentoring sessions because they think if their bosses find out they will think they are incompetent in their role. How did we get here???????


Start again Debbie and Jennifer:-)))


PS: If you want the Employee Experience Design Framework message me. Or, if you know somebody who would like to redesign their employees' experiences and change the mindset that governs these old-school practices I would appreciate the connection. HR has changed, and we are here to help them because nobody is helping them let's be fair. We just all blame them. 



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