Performance Management: Motivation by the Experts

igor kisselev/Shutterstock

Through our training and development studies, we have learned that motivation is a critical component for on-going employee learning. If there is nothing that provides motivation for employees to learn, then professional development, productivity, and growth will not happen. Motivation can be both positive (reward driven) or negative (error driven), but in either case it provides the prompt for an employee to alter their job-related performance.

HRM Online provides a Human Resources perspective on effective motivation in the context of performance management processes.

Click here to watch a video of Human Resources panelists discussing effective motivation-based performance management strategies.

As noted by the experts in the video, part of culture of continuous learning is a culture of continuous conversation. Employees want to know how they are progressing in their jobs and they look for more than just monetary rewards in order to feel valued in the workplace. As such, it is critical to teach leaders how to have discussions regarding on-going employee development.

The simple motivation of a one-time monetary reward wears off quickly and is often forgotten by the next payday. To counter this, each of the professionals in the video provides a perspective on the value of an ‘always on’ communication focus, and a relationship-based approach for effective employee motivation and performance management. Furthermore, the panelists note that while there is a trend to have only goal focused (‘feedforward’) interactions with employees, people still want to know from their direct manager what was successful in the past and what was not. In order to shape the future in a different way, employees learn from what they have or have not done successfully, and they want to hear this from the person they report to.

Talking to employees may be easy; having effective conversations with them may be much more challenging. However, the result is value that stems from both the motivation and the reward of positive relationships.


Discussion Questions:

  1. Which one motivates you the most in a working environment — effective working relationships, or annual monetary rewards? Explain your rationale.
  2. Why are structured performance ratings important in a regulated industry or profession?
  3. As an HR practitioner, identify four motivational elements from the video clip that you would include in an effective performance management program.

Change your Brain, Change your Performance

The Future of Employee Training

brain lifting weights: illustration
Beatriz Gascon J/Shutterstock

Most employers have the organization goal to train and develop their employees, but the age old question always arises. In what areas do employees need to be developed? Perhaps organizations need to approach training their employee’s brains like fitness instructors train their bodies.

Dr. Judy Brockis, the author of Future Brain: The 12 Keys to Create Your High Performance Brain, suggests we can drastically improve our brain’s performances. Let’s start by describing Dr. Brockis twelve keys to brain performance.

Click here to read more about these twelve brain keys.

Key nine focuses on Change ability, a skill that can assist employees and organizations to adapt to change.

What is brain change ability? Well, the concept is very closely tied to the concept of neural plasticity, which is the brain’s ability to grow, develop and change its neural structural. Research on neural plasticity is well developed and it illustrates that we all have the ability to grow and develop at any age. If we combine the concept of neural plasticity and Dr. Brockis’s brain key number nine, change ability, we may have more tools to help employees manage change in their workplace.

Dr. Brockis outlines that our brains are dynamic and designed to change and adapt. It is our fear response that can impede change.

In her article in HRM Canada, Dr. Brockis feels that the human brain “is really wired to change, change is beneficial and always present, and it is part of the human condition. But it is all about psychological safety, the brain needs to feel that the change is not a threat in order to accept it.”

Click here to read an article on Dr. Brockis and change in the workplace.

The HR professional needs to understand the future training needs of employees and should become versed in the concepts neural plasticity and change ability, and integrate them into any change management program they wish to implement.

Discussion Question:

  1. Your VP of HR has asked you what you would recommend to make a workplace change successful. After reading the twelve keys to a fit brain, create a five minute presentation on training employees on a fit brain in the workplace and how it can reduce the turmoil during an upcoming change initiative.


Inspiring Health and Safety Culture

Happy child playing with toy wings against summer sky background.
Sunny studio/Shutterstock

Would you rather do something because you had to, or do something because you wanted to?

In either case, for most of us, we will be motivated to get the something done. The difference between these two choices, however, will determine how well we get that something done and whether or not we will be motivated to do it again.

These concepts apply directly to our individual approaches to Health and Safety management. As Human Resources professionals we must take on the role of leadership in Health and Safety matters. How we take on that role will determine whether we are able to influence a positive and pro-active Health and Safety culture, or are limited to a compliance based approach that gets things done but goes no further than the minimum requirements. We can take on the health and safety mantle because we ‘have’ to, or we can shape it in order to effect constructive organizational change.

Shawn Galloway, president of  ProAct Safety, is a passionate advocate for Health and Safety organizational leadership. In a recent interview he discusses the difference that leadership style has on the creation of an inspirational health and safety culture that motivates all employees to do better than the minimum requirements.

Click hear to see the interview.

As Mr. Galloway identifies in the clip a ‘command and control’ culture does get results. This approach speaks to the achievement of the minimum as the target or the goal. In other areas of our Human Resources studies, we look at the concept of a ‘threshold’ requirement which is the same as a minimum standard. It is an acceptable standard in some cases, but it does not offer the opportunity to go beyond the minimum into the realm of excellence and inspiration.

How do we proceed when the minimum is not enough and the measure for compliance is a standard that is, simply, too low?

We must take on the challenge of inspirational leadership, especially in the creation of a pro-active safety culture. We can do so by setting high standards. We can do so by constantly looking at ways to inspire and improve personal performance, not only for others engaged in health and safety practices, but for ourselves as well.

After all, aren’t our work lives worth more than just the minimum?

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why are ‘command and control’ systems easy to implement for health and safety standards?
  2. When you think of your own approach to health and safety in the workplace, how are you motivated by the organization to act in a safe manner?
  3. As a Human Resources professional, what steps will you take to ensure that you are perceived as more than a ‘compliance officer’ for Health and Safety?
  4. What skills will you rely on to influence a positive health and safety culture in your workplace?


Costly Consequences

One of the perils of working in Human Resources is getting blamed when things go wrong.  This seems to be the case in a recent costly settlement scandal, unfolding at Concordia University in Montreal.

Man Holding Money
Source: Bacho/Shutterstock

Click Here to Read the Article.

How does one jump to the unfortunate conclusion that the reason for this settlement at termination, comes from a fault in the hiring process?  Before we begin to speculate, let’s be clear in our understanding that none of the facts related to this situation have been acknowledged or identified by the two primary parties in this case.

It does seem evident, however, that there are a few costly lessons to be learned from this case.

First and foremost, no matter how senior the position may be, is the person selected for the role truly skilled and qualified to meet the requirements of both the position and the organization?  Good human resource practices should ensure that hiring decisions are based on more than just professional reputation alone.

Second, are the terms of the employment contract, which solidifies the employment relationships at the time of hiring, reasonable and mutually beneficial? Typically, reasonable termination clauses are included in the employment contract signed and agreed to by both parties at the time of hire.  In this case, it seems that the benefit in the form of the amount of severance, which was provided as a result of the ‘mutually agreed’ termination of the employment relationship, rests with the departing employee.  From the perspective of an outsider to this particular situation, it appears to be out of proportion to the benefit gained by the university based on the amount of time the individual was employed.

Third, what is the organizational risk assessment and risk tolerance for a hiring decision that does not go as planned?  As HR practitioners, we do not spend enough time in the recruitment planning and hiring process to gauge the consequences of poor hiring decisions.  We should definitely be doing our due diligence homework at the time of hiring and include the risk of impact on organizational reputation when these types of situations do not go exactly as planned, especially when they end up in the public domain.

Discussion Questions:

  1. As the HR advisor in this case, what processes or steps would you have put into place to prevent this situation from happening as it did?
  2. Do you think this level of executive severance pay out is appropriate? Why or why not?
  3. Identify three additional lessons learned from this case in relation to employment contracts and the hiring process.

Learning to Listen

Source: Tumblr. The above content constitutes a link to the source website.

Effective transfer of training for all employees is easier when there is a culture of learning.  Creating a culture of learning must come with clear support from the top of the organization through the office of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).  As we have learned through our studies, two additional key strategies recommended for the effective transfer of training for employees into productive performance behaviours include, management support and on-going performance coaching.  So how does the CEO become more effective in their own performance as a cultural role model for the learning organization?

They too need management support and on-going performance coaching.

Click here to read the article.  

According to this article, there is a 65.4% increase in management productivity due to one-on-one coaching when compared to the transfer of learning that comes from attending a three-day management training session.  Further, most of us forget a significant portion of what we have heard within 8 hours!   So, it is particularly interesting to note, that for the CEO, the focus of performance coaching in this example relies on the continued development of their own listening skills in order to become better communicators.

If the CEO learns to listen more, then employees are more likely to be heard.  If employees feel like they are being heard, then they are more likely become more productive.  If there is more productivity, then there is likely to be an increase in organizational value as a result of employees feeling valued and listened to.

Does it matter?  If the transfer of training by the CEO makes for better listening practices and effective communication, then a positive chain reaction throughout the organization could occur.  This result makes it obvious that it does matter…a lot!

Discussion Questions:

  1. What advice would you give the CEO where you work (or have worked) in order to increase their communication effectiveness?
  2. What types of performance coaching would you benefit from in your current work situation?
  3. How much do you remember from past training sessions that you were able to implement into your daily work routines?
  4. Who would benefit from on-going performance coaching in your current workplace and why?