We all have that one friend who can’t stop talking about stuff they get to do at work. They come home happier than they left in the morning, even though they’re not the founder nor CEO of the company. What could possibly be so different over there?
What is Currently Wrong?
Years and years people have done research on how to change management principles and put processes in place to make employees more performant. The central question was: How can we gain more control over people so they can become more performant? Answers included rather dismal performance reviews, 360 reviews and rating systems. Rarely did these processes add to the performance, let alone bring value to the employees. According to most research results, only 21% of HR managers believes the old model of performance management drives business value.
Right now, slowly but surely, the trend is to bring more agility to these processes. Agility adds flexibility to the objectives and allows us to react more quickly to issues. However, most of the (well-intended) solutions within that trend still tend to focus too much on the process itself and not on the human side of it. That’s why many OKR’s are still not cheered on by employees because, once again, it feels too much like being controlled.
The Essence of The Solution
To fix this, we propose that companies start with something far less mechanical: a change in mindset. This alone could solve most of the today’s issues when managing performance and engagement. In essence, it boils down to this: Do people think they are who they are because they are born this way (a fixed mindset), or do they think they are who they are because of their experience and nurture (a growth mindset).
It’s the difference between saying “You are talented” and “You’re hard working”. In (4) they describe it as believing you are capable and believing you are able (will-power) to do something. Instead of believing you need the talent to do so, “fixed mindset”-people are limited by what they (or their function description) say they’re good at. Children who were told they had to be “smarter” gave up more quickly, enjoyed the work less and lied about their results three times as often than kids who were told to put in “more effort” (6). In an organisational context, this means focusing on strengths and ways to get te maximum potential out of those strengths. When having a conversation with your people, this is one of the main things you should find out.
We’ve summarised it like this:
How Do We Achieve That?
We believe it all starts with the right conversations. Conversations about growth, strengths, your long-term goals and you & your company’s core values. Preferably conversations that are structured using a psychological model such as PERMA (7) or SCARF (5). Even if the manager having the conversation has no clue, there’s a model behind the conversation he’s having.Letting your people have the right conversations, and having them write down their strengths and personal goals will already change the atmosphere. The Aon Employee Value Propositions (what can we do for our employees as a company) and career opportunities (horizontal or vertical) are the most important drivers for employee engagement (8). We already saw companies’ atmospheres turn around completely after merely six months using this process. Once you’ve got the conversations going, it’s just a matter of changing the existing process into a more growth-friendly one (using agile performance management for example).
Obviously, that’s easier said than done. Technology can help to both facilitate this conversation and the change afterwards. Be aware though that technology alone is not the solution. That’s why at intuo, we do both.