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Break the System - PERFORM

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 audit 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 down to seven pillars (that's the basic level):


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

Here are some of the questions our audit toolkit includes:

Every section starts with a question: How Do You Want Employees To Feel About Their Performance? 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.

  • Expectations: Do your employees understand what is expected of them? How do you know? How do you measure it? How do you communicate expectations? What are those expectations? 

  • Management: Do your supervisors, managers, and leaders understand how you want them to manage performance? How do you make them understand? What do you expect from them? How do you measure this understanding?

  • Management: Do you have a section incorporated into your onboarding program that collects information about how the person performs best? Is it through close management, remote supervision, regular chats, or a once-a-month sit-down? Do you know the strengths of each of your employees you can leverage, how they receive feedback the best or what motivates them to perform better?

  • Management: Is performance management employee-owned? How does it work? 

  • Management: Is performance management management or HR-owned? How does it work? 

  • Intention of the system: Is the performance management system designed to improve or to measure performance? How does it work?

  • Measurement: Do you measure the quality of conversations between employees and managers related to performance? How do you do that? What is the result? 

The management of performance is in the hands of direct supervisors and managers. HR's role is to make sure that appropriate tools and training that enable them are available. Here, I am not talking about annual appraisals. That is to measure employees' performance. Performance management happens daily and this is where we go wrong. Not understanding this is when productivity goes down the toilet. 

Performance management is almost nonexistent in organisations. We only pay attention to performance when someone is so bad i.e. making so many mistakes that they start annoying the manager and their colleagues. I am not joking, this is how poor performance is being flagged. 

But performance management is not about weeding out poor performers because if this is what we use it for that's a very expensive process for that. Performance management is about maintaining and increasing the performance of everyone and it is a very difficult job. It is tied into talent development so we can make even our best performers even better. Performance management is not promotion (yes I heard that before). 

Performance management is not a system! It is me, as a manager, understanding what each of my employees are good at & not so good at, the way they best respond to guidance and training, what they are motivated and interested by, and using all that information every single day to match their skills with the right job, coaching, guiding, developing them and setting longer-term goals for their future performance. This is performance management. Do you think annual appraisals do that? It will never do that because that's a human job, not a system job. 

Surely, we should have better ways to do performance management on the shop floor. Surely, we can implement simple interventions that clarify expected performance (not only in the form of KPIs), and make people understand how they contribute. But most importantly, we must understand what employees want when it comes to managing their performance because let's be honest, we don't have a bloody clue about that. 

Do supervisors and managers understand that the performance of employees is in their hands and is in front of them every single second of the day? Performance is not in annual appraisals and competency frameworks. Performance management is the job of supervisors and up. Do we actually understand that? It should not be that annoying thing supervisors, managers, and leaders need to do. That is the job. 

Let's start with that because every time I speak to managers and leaders they complain about or are oblivious to the performance of their employees which ironically their job. 

PS: If you want the EE Audit Checklist 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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