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The Future of Performance Management

The erosion of human connection is rampant across many organisations and it lies at the foundation of human capital practices. According to research from PeopleStreme (2017) 80% of performance management processes are still old world appraisals. Add to this a recent survey of 27 companies in the ASX150 that found 78% of companies admitted a focus on process rather than quality of discussion and outcomes was an issue (PWC 2015). How can you ensure a smooth transition to the 21st digital century, but also save time, money, resources AND focus on your people rather than the process?

If your organisation has yet to invest in performance management software, you're spoilt for choice. If you have and the initiative has lost momentum, there's still hope!

There are a myriad of performance management systems (PMS) out there and this is because organisations are investing in their people with the life cycle of their career in mind. PMS enable organisations to understand and quantify how their people are doing, how much they are doing, how well they are doing it and how they can be supported. What organisations need to get clear about from the onset is the purpose.

From recruitment right through to the exit interview, companies should be aiming for a consistent process that focuses on the individual. The employee life cycle has 16 stages; on top of this are the unexpected events that human resource leaders are called on to manage. This is where the human side of things have the potential to change: you can utilise many of the constructs in positive psychology to support the process so that it becomes a "we" focused approach rather than a "me" focused approach.

As with any change initiative, there is always a strategy or design model to help guide you and keep you focused along the way. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a model for creating positive change in organisational systems. Developed by world renowned sociologist Professor David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva (1980) AI has been described as:


“.....AI is about the search for the best in people, their organizations, and the strengths-filled, opportunity-rich world around them. AI is not so much a shift in the methods and models of organizational change, but AI is a fundamental shift in the overall perspective taken throughout the entire change process to ‘see’ the wholeness of the human system and to “inquire” into that system’s strengths, possibilities, and successes. ”

Stavros, Jacqueline, Godwin, Lindsey, & Cooperrider, David. (2015).

We possess a traditional, deficit-based problem-solving mind set ~ it's sometimes easier for us to initially identify an important gap, issue, or problem (what we want less of) instead of reframing it into what we want more of. The approach of AI is that, regardless of what an organisation is going through, there is positive at it’s core: peak experiences, best practices, success stories, strengths and key learnings. Focusing on the positive creates momentum and an upward spiral of innovation and agility.
4-D Cycle of Appreciative Inquiry
  1. Discovery - utilise interviews to elicit stories of what is working well, highlight successes, identify strengths. Identify elements common to the moments of greatest success and fulfilment.

  2. Dream - what does your ideal world/system look like? Note behaviours, processes, people.

  3. Design - combines the first two stages and starts the build phase. It's about ongoing improvisation and tweaking.

  4. Destiny (or Delivery) - is where the rubber meets the road. Launch a pilot team and if working on a large-scale program such as a PMS, definitely stage the process.

Additional Keys to Success of a PMS

Employees want to feel successful, to do well at their job and feel they are making a valuable contribution. In order to ensure this happens, employees need a clear understanding of individual goals and how they fit into the larger organisation. New technology-based solutions offered can provide goal visibility across entire organisations, offer extensive reporting options and can reduce paperwork by as much as 90% (Successfactors, 2007).

Authentic engagement throughout the year is imperative ~ having mindful conversations is key. Employees need to feel valued, appreciated and know that there is ongoing opportunity for development. You need to redefine performance management so that it is a positive component of your business that people want to be involved in.

Providing ongoing positive communications in the workplace can help keep employees motivated and working at their best. Appreciative inquiry, illuminating strengths and gratitude are just a few ways to accomplish this. Also rather than consistently having retrospective discussions, try having future oriented discussions about what might be possible and how you will ensure your talent possess the tools to achieve.

The future of performance management is here. Those organisations who have yet to make the shift from a process-focused to people-focused approach have an opportunity; an opportunity to make a positive change with a significant impact.

Kirsten works with organisations to raise performance, engagement and well-being and support change initiatives through AI. Contact her today to tap into the potential of your talent and your business.

Quote: Stavros, Jacqueline, Godwin, Lindsey, & Cooperrider, David. (2015). Appreciative Inquiry: Organization Development and the Strengths Revolution. In Practicing Organization Development: A guide to leading change and transformation (4th Edition), William Rothwell, Roland Sullivan, and Jacqueline Stavros (Eds). Wiley

For more information on Appreciative Inquiry See:

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