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News - 19.10.2021

Posted by Aisling Teillard

News - 19.10.2021

What does ‘human-centric performance management’ really mean, and how do we go about it?

Human-centric practice

Human-Centric and Performance Management haven’t sat too well together in the past but we have a real opportunity to change that. An opportunity to embrace a whole new way of managing performance that puts human centricity at the core.When performance management practices were being born, human centricity was probably one of the least considerations in it. We wanted practices that would drive performance, hold people to account, ensure managers managed both high and low performance, and everything in between.

Over the years we’ve added to the practice. We’ve inserted boxes and matrices that went down well with our CFO colleagues. These also helped the business understand the science behind humans. But over time, perhaps we lost something too.

When performance drops

In between the boxes, the matrices, the processes, and the algorithms, we lost sight of the humans behind the formulas. The humans who came to work to do their best in the context of busy family life, long commutes, ageing parents, and many other human complexities we knew little of. Our performance management processes reduced their contribution to singular ratings, to discussions. These discussions include the task, the activity, the project, the contribution to the team. They leave little room for context, for wider consideration. In the process, we lost sight that often performance lags because of the context. When performance drops it’s likely because other, very real human factors, are at the forefront; challenges at home, tiredness, burnout from life’s many stresses can all build up to the one-liner – does not meet expectations. Yet we fear addressing the very things that may be creating that circumstance.

Our new reality of performance management needs to embrace the human factor, the very essence of being human. It needs to open up the reality of their context, the life context that may be holding them back or propelling them forward. That’s why the check-in conversation at its very essence needs to address the whole human. Not just the task, the activity, or the project, but the human behind the work. It starts with a genuine curiosity of how that employee is and a listening ear to what they are open to telling you as a manager.

The importance of effective check-ins

HR has been redesigning check-in conversations to take into context the human factors. It has started addressing well-being, challenges, and the whole human behind the work. Deloitte found in a study of workers in the United States and the United Kingdom that 94 percent report feeling stress at work and 96 percent of their respondents agreed that “well-being was an organizational responsibility”, making these check-ins all the more important for employees.

The secret to these effective check-ins is to help navigate an open conversation. A conversation that allows us to go where we traditionally haven’t gone, into the person’s context. Those moments can help give a real understanding of why performance is falling behind or pacing ahead. However, we can’t assume that every Manager just knows how to embark on such a check-in. It’s advisable to provide coaching prompts and tips to help them navigate the journey. Regular check-ins and continuous conversations will build the trust that’s needed prior to launching straight into this new territory.

The growth and development of employees

Our and most innate human need is to grow, to develop, to aspire to self-actualisation. We know our people are hungry to grow and develop. Yet, we don’t always put in place the right opportunities to do so or even to start the conversation. Perhaps we don’t have everything worked out in our learning strategy. However, this shouldn’t block us from starting the conversation. That conversation will help us understand what’s important to that employee for the future, what career do they aspire to. Growth and development conversations are key to putting human centricity back into the core of our experience.

We can transform our performance management practices. This can be done by putting human centricity at the core by having the right conversation at the right time.

Here are 3 simple steps to help you transform your performance management practices:
  • Introduce tools to the employee to allow them to own and drive the conversation about their growth and development
  • Help managers have strong check-in conversations that help navigate the employee’s context as well as their performance
  • Work ‘human’ moments of appreciation, feedback, and connection into your process. Make these frequent, so trust is built and those conversations flow more naturally.

The road to more human-centric performance management has a clear path. It’s built of a continuous performance coaching experience. One that will fundamentally change the working practices of employees and managers for the better. If you want to find out how Our Tandem can help you on your journey to a more human-centric approach to performance management, book a chat with us. 


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