🥇Stop Doing Employee Self Performance & Do This Instead!
David Hassell is co-founder and CEO of 15Five, industry leading continuous performance management software that helps leaders and managers drive high performance by bringing out the best in their people. He also co-created the Best-Self Management methodology to help today's organizations create an environments where people can thrive and put their unique strengths and talents to work in service of a mission they believe in. Follow David him on Twitter @dhassell.
As the co-founder and CEO of 15Five, an employee performance management software platform, it may sound strange to hear me advocate against doing performance management. Let me explain.
Most organizations continue to do what's always been done, performance management practices like annual reviews that were developed over a century ago and came into vogue decades ago. But the world of work has changed dramatically and the most commonly practiced methods of leadership and management haven't kept pace.
These performance management practices are not merely ineffective, but have become increasingly counterproductive at producing the level of high performance and engagement companies are striving so hard to achieve. Companies continue struggling to attract, retain and maximize their people.
What isn't working
Today's environment is dramatically different. Josh Bersin, a key analyst in the HR technology space recently summed it up by saying, "Today more than 85% of stock market capitalization is intellectual property, brand, services, and software so every person matters." What organizations need most are people who are tapped into their greatest gifts and strengths, who are passionate, committed to the mission, loyal and who are able to express genius-level performance through their work.
One of the tools I often share is the concept of ELTV (Employee Lifetime Value, which was introduced to me by Greenhouse). We all have fixed and sunk costs for recruiting each new employee. Each time someone leaves, there's a disruption to the business while we have to go out and recruit a replacement, and negative value that's being created if there's any gap before we find that replacement and while they're ramping up.
What if we were able to shorten the time to ramp, increase the contribution each person is able to make during their tenure, and retain them much, much longer? I believe that not only is this possible, but the very same thing that would have someone contribute more is what has them want to stick around longer.
Don't just manage performance, inspire greatness
By supporting people in being and becoming their best selves, higher and ever increasing performance becomes a natural by-product, not to mention uncommon levels of passion, commitment, and loyalty — qualities less and less often associated with the average person's experience of work.
The Best-Self Management philosophy and methodology allows you to address the hidden factors that stimulate sustainable growth and development in each employee to in turn help your company become far more successful than you had ever thought possible. What do I mean by hidden factors? Every individual and every group of people have both a being state (which is largely internal/invisible) and a doing state (which is largely external/visible). Here are some examples:
We define Best-Self Management in two parts. First, it's about creating a culture that brings out the best in who your people are today. This is an important distinction, because there's nowhere anyone needs to get to. Your people are already great. They have natural talents and strengths, and positive qualities that can be more readily expressed given the right environment.
Second, it's about supporting people in learning, growing, developing, evolving and becoming their best over time. We're all works in progress. We all have a unique set of talents, passions and perspectives. When we take the time to understand what those are, and give someone the opportunity to align their work with those talents and passions such that they're able to make the greatest contribution possible, they can't help but grow quickly.
In the interest of brevity, I'll cut to the chase around what you can start doing to implement each of the key Best-Self Management practices below, which act like an iterative loop to continually support each employee on their journey during their tenure at your company. You can also read the entire manifesto here, and sign up for our management trainings when they become available later in 2019.
Managers need to initiate a Best-Self Discovery process with each of their direct reports. This helps employees self-reflect and get reflections from peers and other assessments to better understand what drives them, what their strengths are, and then clarify this into a statement for themselves around their potential Unique Ability or Zone of Genius.
Managers support each employee in setting at least one Personal Development Objective alongside their business Objectives (OKRs) during each quarter, or other period of time for which you set goals. Learning and growth never ends, and everyone needs to be focused on leaning into their next growth edge.
Managers engage in some form of weekly check-in. This can be done asynchronously and in a lightweight manager but it is essential. Employees need a place to regularly share their successes, challenges, progress on goals/OKRs, weekly priorities, and peer appreciation, and receive coaching and feedback along the way. This is the core of the 15Five product, and whether you use 15Five or not, this piece is critical.
Managers perform regular 1-on-1 meetings (ideally in person, or via video with distributed teams) to go deeper on key issues that are often surfaced through the weekly check-in. I personally like a cadence of every other week, but these can range from as frequently as weekly to as infrequently as once per month.
Managers perform regular Best-Self Reviews. This is our take on reframing the outdated annual performance review as an opportunity to support someone in being and becoming their best self, where high performance is the natural by-product. While we still advocate measuring and providing feedback on performance, we put a high degree of attention on helping to reflect and refine a person's strengths, and continue to focus them on their own personal growth and development journey.
If you're a leader, all of the above requires you to genuinely and authentically care about your people, and care about them thriving in their whole lives, not just their work lives. When you activate the strategies and practices I've outlined above, you have the opportunity to create an uncommonly powerful environment where your people can produce extraordinary results.