The Harvard Business Review recently reported on the results of a Deloitte survey which found that more than half of executives believe that their current management strategy “drives not the engagement of employees or high performance.”
When conventional methods like annual performance reviews are ineffective, how do we search for fresh ideas? The majority of these originate from the field of neuroscience.
Older performance management strategies for managing performance
Deloitte Australia also reported that the traditional performance management methods are designed to target employees that perform poorly, rather than the majority of staff who are performing very well. This implies an unfavorable connotation that is not in any way motivating; however, it can be deflating and often opposite of what is meant to be.
Traditional methods are incredibly rigid, as one might expect from systems that haven’t changed much over the last 50 years.
If the goal of management of performance is to maximize the performance of individuals, then one would expect these systems to be based on people; however, the majority of them have been processing and system-based.
Human factors are often overlooked because the Newtonian idea of everyone being”a cog in the machine became the norm in management. Based on this view, it is possible to run the machine well if all parts are regularly tuned up.
This led to an approach that was based on measurement and assessment of skill and abilities, end-of-year ranking and scores, as well as the extended annual compliance process gatherings.
The reality, however, the reality is that performance is based on a variety of variables, none of which are measurable by these traditional measures. Humans are fundamentally emotionally-driven beings, and neuroscience is providing insight into the ways to comprehend this, which can provide new life to the management of performance.
How can neuroscience be a factor in this?
Five decades after, many of the world’s top-known companies have stopped using the kind of system mentioned above.
Some of the top companies like Microsoft, Gap, Adobe, and Deloitte have substituted traditional methods of managing performance with more flexible, dynamic approaches that focus on what enhances performance.
This usually involves frequent and timely feedback discussions that focus on the actual advancement and development of people.
Neuroscience can bring new energy to these developments and assist companies with frameworks to help assist in the process of facilitating change.
First, it shows that every individual is a part of a vast community or network; that is where the emotional aspects regarding belonging, fairness, and identity play a more significant role than rational function. Instead of being mere cogs within the machine, which is always making reasonable and predictable choices, the way we make our decisions is actually usually more emotional.
Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky discuss this through the framework that the brain functions as having two different thinking systems, System 1 and System 2. The first is more intuitive, working efficiently and quickly, without a sense of self-control. The latter is more rational, running slower and distributing resources to more challenging cognitive tasks.
The standard performance review concentrates heavily on systems 2 type matrices, such as capability frameworks assessment of leadership skills, profiles of leaders responsibility matrices, job descriptions.
System 1 matrixes are generally left out. Thus, applying traditional metrics for performance management for modern teams can yield unsatisfactory results, with emotional responses frequently causing feelings of resentment and bias and the associated difficulties that emotions can create within the workplace.