Out with the Old, in with the New--Fresh Frameworks for Human Resources
At TM Solutions, we’ve helped companies to redefine success with regard to getting the most out of their employees. We’ve built our success model as a series of contrasts with old thinking that’s defined human resources management for the last generation.
In this installment, we’ll take a look at the old way, performance management, versus the new path forward, leadership and engagement. There’s an organization psychology aspect to this—old way companies tend to be very top-down in how they manage the people within their businesses. Progressive companies are forging a different direction, a fearless pursuit of a more horizontal organization built with leaders at every necessary level.
In order to achieve this new organizational framework that’s better equipped to handle today’s business challenges, companies must address the whole issue of performance. Performance management itself, as a concept, has become a hallmark of rigid, inflexible organizations chained to different ideas of execution. This type of human resources management is too system driven for the system’s sake, the workplace equivalent of teachers teaching to end-of-grade tests in schools.
Managers and their employees can look forward to all-too-few sessions devoid of real dialogue, where blame and credit are assessed and either acknowledged or deflected, often never empowering the truth that gets results. Top-down performance management neither breeds leaders nor guarantees proper performance management; in fact, companies using this tired old system are more likely to bring in outside talent than promote from within, and instead of generating better employee performance on the job, it better provides documentation for disciplining and eventually terminating employees.
If the whole idea is to really drive company performance through each and every employee, a new path forward, based on leadership and engagement, is the perfect prescription for companies looking to innovate and adapt to market challenges. Leadership development requires an ongoing dialogue focused on the unique value and contributions of each employee, both internally within the organization and what external skills and life experiences they bring to the office each day.
Leadership development is much like the way the best coaches in the world of sports approach building their teams into contenders. The best coaches never get too high emotionally after a win, and they never sink too low after a loss. Don’t be mistaken—this isn’t a win-some, lose-some mentality—rather, it’s a continuous accounting that leadership development of individuals, with the ultimate by-product of a winning team, takes a journey, not a periodic performance appraisal based too much on flattering statistics or egregious errors.
The cornerstone of leadership development is engagement between the manager-coach and the employee-player. Employees don’t need simple “atta-boys or condemnations”—they need managers who will help them think through current challenges and help them reflect upon winning or losing strategies and tactics from previous projects or initiatives.
Furthermore, engagement is a two-way street. The worst company managers think that engaging their employees is limited to giving each of them proper feedback. It’s the old “he knows where the company stands” gambit. In a true engagement scenario, the employee is free to share his opinion on where the company is falling short in achieving its goals, and the manager reacts by taking those ideas on board and helping her employees to affect change and meet their objectives.
What the new leadership and engagement framework promotes is winning, and winning will never need to be redefined. Winning is making more money, doing it more efficiently, and promoting positive change for the company to achieve its market goals.