…Okay, so an article published about a year ago by Ben Whitter titled “Bye, Bye, Human Resources” has been making the rounds on social media. The piece highlights the way that Airbnb has transformed its HR function – with the focus internally moving away from a conventional approach to HR (recruiting/talent management/labor/total rewards etc.) to focus on employee experience. From Whitter’s piece:
…HR theoretically has a place in all of the above employee experience circles, but there is one that I really want to talk about, namely Intellectual (Talent Development), and the role that HR (and managers) have to play in developing this circle well.
Specifically, Kris Dunn recently wrote a piece titled “Here’s To the Crazy Ones: And Why You Don’t Deserve Them” here wherein he talked about the performance review process. From the piece (bold highlights mine):
… The reason you do any type of coaching or performance management is to migrate employees. If you’re going to do it, you want a system that allows you to support migrating new employees to good performers, and good performers to great employees.
You don’t get there by focusing on the rating scale. That doesn’t migrate anyone. You get there by using performance management as a means to have a different type of conversation – one that gets an employee thinking and perhaps excited about taking care of the busy work that’s a part of any job, then having time to come up with some different ideas.
…What does great performance look like? I think it means that you encourage employees to challenge the status quo. Of course, if you’re going to encourage that, you better be comfortable telling people that their idea sucks and they need to go back to the drawing board.
…Start having conversations with your best people about what’s possible. It’s funny how those types of conversations and the exploration that results are actually the best retention tool for your top talent.
^This is powerful for two reasons: (1) because it highlights that a key reason HiPo employees stay with their companies is because they enjoy the type of work they do (above a certain level, pay stops being the primary driver for most), and (2) because it highlights that a collaborative process like this can really only happen if an organization has a culture that encourages both innovation and constructive feedback. Ultimately both (1) mission and (2) feedback are integral to any performance management and talent development process or else it’s doomed to fall apart.
…Concerning point #2 (feedback), Tim Sackett has a really good article on the topic here, but the most relevant component is below:
…No one cares about what you have to say, unless it’s telling them how good they are.
People can’t handle critical feedback, unless it’s set up in a mechanism where they expect it and desire it. That’s the crux, hardly anyone has that mechanism and while most people tell you they want critical feedback they don’t have the makeup to handle it.
Here are the types of “critical” feedback people can handle:
“You’re doing a good job, would love it if you could get that big project off the ground. That would really help us out!”
Here’s what you really want to say, critically, but can’t:
“You do good at things I tell you to do, and all basic day to day duties of the job. I need more from this position and from you, and I’m willing to help get you there. I need someone who can take a project from scratch and kill it, without me having to babysit the entire thing. You’re not doing that, and that’s what I really need you to do. Are you willing do that?”
Same message, right? You do some stuff good, but one critical aspect of the job is not getting done. The problem is, the first level feedback is given 99.9% of the time, because managers and leaders know if you deliver the second level, that person will be destroyed!
They’ll think you think they suck, and they’ll start looking for a job. When in reality, you were just trying to give them legitimate feedback. Real feedback. Something that would actually help them reach expectations.
^One of the best ways that we can enhance employee experience as a function is continue to develop the mechanisms in which employees are (1) encouraged to innovate / perform and (2) are given candid, actionable feedback on how they can get better in both areas.
…I will be the first person to admit I can get better at the above (as both a manager and in supporting my client group). Because while I go to great lengths to encourage new ideas, collaboration, and dialogue… I sometimes struggle with giving people the feedback they need to move their ideas along (or else take them back to the drawing board). This is partly because I recognize that I personally over-correct in response to constructive feedback (and so try to avoid giving feedback that could cause others to do the same), and partially because as a glass-half-full type I tend to focus on what is going well as opposed to what could be going better.
That said, regardless of where one sits on this continuum, as we continue to spearhead HR transformation efforts that focus on scaling our capabilities and those of our clients, the opportunity to enhance the vehicles through which we continue innovation and deliver constructive feedback have got to remain top of mind.
…I think. -_-
Happy Thursday all. As always, let me know what I got wrong in the comments below.