The HR leader of the future
At the Vlerick School of Management, HR and other professionals gathered in February to hear Professor Frederik Anseel’s inspiring talk on the future of human resources. He claimed that most organizations still use principles which are inspired by F. Taylor such as :
  • select and train employees to adapt to the job
  • which should be done in the ‘one best way’
  • in the factory as location and definitely not at home, where there is no control
  • the time spent at work is important
  • the leaders organize the work and the planning
  • people need to be motivated
  • humans are resources, that can be managed

These principles are based on the underlying idea that employees are by nature lazy and not trustworthy, so firm control is very important.

On the other hand we hear more and more voices that claim that not the input but the output is the most important thing. So it doesn’t matter any more, when people work and where they work and how they work … as long as they produce the right output.

Technology has changed and is still changing our organizations. We can say that:

  • the world of work has changed
  • cultural norms have changed
  • psychological insights have changed.

So HR Leaders are now challenged and need to adapt their tools.

One example: the widespread performance management tools, which are generally used to determine who will get a promotion and/or a bonus, done by line managers on a regular basis with a focus on the periodic results and done in a systemic, standardized, objective, top-down matter.

Recent surveys show that over 90% of this type of performance management systems are not successful. They create frustration with both line managers, employees and the organization.

The key problem is that most performance appraisal systems do not motivate the individual nor guide their development effectively.

Besides the fact that 1 out of 3 employees are never evaluated, also thirty percent of the managers do not find them useful.

The development of the psychological insights explain why. The self-enhancement concept explains why most employees think that they do a good job. It is human to think that we are better than our co-workers. Multiple tests showed that most people find themselves smarter, more efficient … They even find their pet smarter than the cat or dog of the neighbours.

It is also known that self-enhancement flourishes in a hostile environment, so during performance evaluation meetings, we will even push our self-image to a higher level, which is not the best starting point to receive feedback.

There are conflicting interests inherent in all evaluation systems, as they often try to evaluate and to identify material for development, which are conflicting topics.

A potential alternative, could be regular ‘check-ins’, a system used by Adobe. It is a feedback system supported by coaches, mentors and self-assessment tools whereby the feedback gives food for development.

It needs authentic leadership and feed forward, strength based performance appraisals.

It is also more tailor-made and individual oriented and goes hand in hand with concepts such as job crafting, hire for attitude – train for skills and more output-oriented systems.

In the second part of the conference, Sylvie Van den Eynde, Senior VP HR & OD at Delhaize Belgium explained how these new principles are applied on the ground.

It always seems impossible until it is done.

Nelson Mandela