Driving performance in your corporate ‘white space’

HRD chats with a leading HR advisor about how to encourage growth and boost staff performance in areas outside the traditional HR focus

Driving performance in your corporate ‘white space’
“We’ve spent years doubling down, driving individual performance, but as the world becomes increasingly interconnected and geographically dispersed, more matrixed and complex, the requirements for people to find growth opportunities in the white space is where things are headed.”
Aaron McEwan, senior director and advisory leader, HR practice at CEB, sat down with HRD to discuss the future of collaborative enterprise and what will be expected of HR during this change.
HR leaders should think about collaboration throughout the organisation and create an environment in which employees are expected to perform well.
While there has been a focus on performance management over the past year – with many firms scrapping their annual reviews – McEwan noted that very few are actually getting rid of their traditional systems entirely.
“If you look at the most basic level, it’s clear most people don’t like the process,” he said. “However, their dissatisfaction is due to the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of how we go about it, not the process of giving feedback.”
This is backed up by decades-old psychological research saying that people are driven by feedback, using it to grow personally and professionally.
CEB has seen firms return to offering feedback which is centred on the quality of conversation between managers and staff, he added.
A final area that HR should focus on when building a truly collaborative organisation is streamlining various systems, functions and processes. One main issue is that most HR departments are not structured efficiently.
“The fact that we focus on vertical business units means HR is possibly not looking at the right things,” McEwan said. “For example, if the HR business partners are just focused on their business unit, they’re not seeing the opportunity in the white spaces.”
This means HR may be missing out on chances to connect functional clients together to solve issues which encompass the whole organisation, he added.
Related stories:
How to secure employee buy-in for major cultural change
Three mental traps that can drastically limit performance
It’s impossible to improve performance, claims study

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