When someone in the HR team uses the noun “performance’ it is normally about the notion of being able to measure, report on and manage work effectiveness to change outcomes. The idea that a performance management system contributes to how the organisation will accomplish something has been around for some time. Oodles of resources and money have been invested in developing them. Although employees generally like and expect some form of formal performance review, [people need the right feedback] research suggests that return on investment is largely subjective with little evidence supporting improved value or outcomes.

A number of organisations are rethinking their approach to performance management. The question of whether it is about rating of “past performance” or about forward looking “management” of outcomes is being given the serious consideration it deserves.

Deloitte is one company that is redesigning its performance management system around three objectives to recognise, see and fuel performance. They are moving away from yearly 360 degree appraisals that culminated in a numerical ranking for each person, they reckon that creating the annual ratings consumed over 2 million hours a year. Their new proposed system is putting much more emphasis on employees getting continuous feedback from managers utilising a forwards thinking approach, rather than a batched assessment of past performance. A more detailed description of Deloittes approach can be found at

This positive trend for organisations to evolve their traditional appraisal approaches towards strengths-based assessment and coaching, may help establish performance management as a tool for greater employee engagement. However the new approaches involve an increased dependency on having the right management skills to ensure performance and feedback conversations motivate the right performance behaviours. Whatever performance management system an organisation uses, it is peoples behaviours that dictate performance outcomes, that is the nub of both the threat and opportunity of any performance management. If managers simply end up regulating rigid performance systems that curtail the employee’s ability for self directed development, they would fail to deliver anything other than a tacit compliance to a wasteful process. The key message and secret of success is to shift performance management from being a measurement process managers do to employees once a year, to a mindset of performance management as a continuous motivational process of learning, development and performance enhancement, linked to strategic goals. This new thinking is not an easy journey for most organisations, logical and sensible it may be but it will require more than simply reinventing processes and procedures if it is going to deliver on its promise.

Knowing1 applies Human Givens psychology to performance management practices. Human Givens psychology is a holistic approach that incorporates the latest knowledge about what actually goes on inside our heads. Its strength is the way it provides a framework to understand human behaviour that incorporates findings from across multiple scientific disciplines such as psychology, social science, neuroscience and neurobiology, to name few. By making the complex simple through the Human Givens approach, it is possible to understand what actually motivates employee [and customer] behaviour. The intrinsic drives and habits that we all develop consciously and unconsciously can be easily understood and harnessed by managers committed to developing the knowledge and leadership skills necessary to enhance employee engagement and performance.

Knowing1 is a social enterprise business that is delivering a range of leadership skill development programs across all sectors of industry and not-for-profit. We have off the shelf programs and workshops that can be easily rolled out throughout organisations or we can develop bespoke solutions tailored to very specific needs. We also offer individual coaching and counseling. Our solutions are cost effective, have immediate results and represent a great investment in building sustainable leadership skills and cultures that support organisational development.


Ingrid Blades

Founder Knowing1