Are you developing your people or managing them?

In: BlogDate: May 15, 2012By: Henry Stewart

At TrainingZone Live this morning, Michele Owens of the Olympic Delivery Authority gave an interesting example of how people reacted to different approaches:

“When we first used 360 degree feedback, we used it as a performance management tool. It was not popular. So we left it for a year.

“When we introduced it again, we presented it as a development tool. Completely different, people loved it – and even come to me to ask if they can do it.”

It is a good lesson. It reminds me of a discussion I had with a doctor about two surgeries he knew. One used ‘performance management’ to deal with any problems and had a support staff turnover around 50%. The other focused on creating a good working environment and supporting people. They hadn’t lost a member of staff in years.

It comes back to MacGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y. The standard approach to Performance Management is implicitly based on the Theory X idea that people are lazy and need to be managed to perform. Instead Theory Y poses that people are self-motivated and eager to do great work.

Remember that lesson from ODA: People don’t generally enjoy being performance managed, but they love being developed & improving their ability and performance.

So the key question: Is your organisation’s approach based on believing in your people?

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Henry Stewart, Founder and Chief Happiness Officer

Henry is founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Happy Ltd. Following a fairly disastrous job early on in his career, Henry was determined to discover what enabled a productive and happy workplace. In 1987 Henry set up what was originally called Happy Computers. Inspired by Ricardo Semler’s book Maverick, he built a company with a reputation for some of the best customer service in the country and one of the UK’s best places to work, winning multiple awards for its culture and philosophy. His book, the Happy Manifesto, was published by in 2013.

Outside of work he is a father of three, Chair of Governors at his local comprehensive in Hackney and a keen cyclist.

You can find Henry on LinkedIn and follow @happyhenry on Twitter.

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