Becoming a people-centric manager in the new normal

How to create structure and accountability around conversations that elevate simple ‘chats’ to open, honest one-to-ones to become people-centric.

(and why you need to.)

People-centric management is nothing new.

You probably already follow aspects of it in your own day-to-day management style. But taking a truly people-centric approach takes more than a casual nod to one-to-one conversations and a broad people-first mindset.  

To be a people-centric manager (and get real results from this approach) you need: 

  • An individual approach to every team member  
  • A full understanding of personal drivers (and how people can use them to fulfil work and life goals)  
  • A structured approach to one-to-one meetings  
  • A framework that promotes accountability, creates actions and gets results.  

Your most important tool to achieve this?  


But not just any conversation. A friendly chat and a people-centric management conversation are not the same thing. Knowing how to have the right conversations is key to making ‘people-centric’ work for you – and your business.  

That’s why performance management software like OpenBlend is a good way to create structure and accountability around conversations that elevates them from a ‘chat’ to an open, honest one-to-one. 


First things first. Why is it important? 

Long, long ago (or, February) people-centric management was seen by many businesses as a nice to have. It was a way to attract the best talent, to improve customer experience, to create a nicer environment.

Now, it is a must-have. And this will not change once the crisis is over.  

Managers need to see the individual as a whole to understand what motivates them, what affects them, and how to get the best results from them, even in lockdown. This will apply to every employee, in every business, whether they continue to work from home (which many will) or not.   

The old ways of working are over. To survive (and thrive) businesses need people-centric managers.   

Making it happen  

A people-centric approach needs more than a single, isolated conversation – it develops over time, building dialogue between you and your team.  

However, right now, a single conversation is a good place to start.  

The Blend philosophy  

At the heart of our philosophy is the idea of the work-life blend. It’s not a balance: one hat for the workplace, one hat for home. It’s a blend of personal and professional elements that help all of us feel fulfilled.  

Download the OpenBlend guide to employee motivation

The following exercise will help your employees discover their unique blend, and better understand their individual drivers. By discussing these, you can both address how to adapt their working structure to get the best results for you, your team and the business you work for.  

6 steps to a better conversation:

  1. Schedule a video call with each one of your team members.  

    Spread them out (you don’t want to tackle everything in one day – it just won’t be effective) and allocate a good amount of time to each call. We recommend ringfencing 1.5 hours as this is the first conversation.  

  2. Get them to think about their blend before you talk.  

    If you don’t already have OpenBlend as a business, get your team to use Blend Insight, a personal OpenBlend tool for individuals. This allows them to really think about their own blend: their motivations, priorities, challenges and so on.   

    Although you won’t be able to see the results (unless they want to share them with you, but this is up to them) it will prepare them for your conversation.  

    If you do have the full OpenBlend platform, you’ll be able to view individual blends with the team member as you talk, which makes it easier to discuss and track. It will also give you both actions to take away from the call, with prompts to follow them up and clear accountability on both sides.  

  3. Prepare a list of questions 

    These should be direct, easy to answer questions and prompts – not vague statements that are easy to wriggle out of. Remember, some find it easy to share, others less so. You want the same level of transparency (or as near as) as possible.  

    If you’ve used OpenBlend before lockdown, think about what has changed. What new questions do you need to ask? What is no longer relevant? 

    Here are a few questions to get you started:


  1. Which of your drivers/ motivators have changed over the last 3 months/ 6 months / 12 months?
  2. What is important for us to get in place in order for you to thrive in new working conditions?
  3. What is your optimum working pattern? 
  4. How can I, or the business, support you to thrive?
  5. How frequently would you like to discuss your performance deliverables to ensure you feel supported and on track?
  6. How do you feel the team is working? is there anything you think I should be doing to encourage effectiveness in the team?


Have the conversation 

This needs to be an honest, open dialogue, and at this stage, it should be more about asking those questions and listening to the answers than anything else. This conversation should identify key Blend elements and discuss the changes that can facilitate them.  

And remember – you don’t need to make any decisions at this stage, particularly for more extreme requests (like a significant change in work hours). Your first action could be to create an action plan and review in a week. 

Again, a platform like OpenBlend will make this easier, as you’ll have a framework to fill in, schedule actions and measure results.  

Keep an open mind  

Some people’s priorities might seem alien to you and you may find yourself thinking – how on earth is that going to help you? But be open to your team’s requests (within reason). This is all about creating the right blend for the individual. It may surprise you how a few small changes can increase individual engagement and productivity.   

Track results  

Schedule another call in a month (they won’t need to be this frequent as you move forward). What’s changed? How do they feel? How has productivity increased (or decreased)? What needs to happen next? 

Even from this one conversation, you should get some surprising insight into your team’s circumstances, challenges and aspirations that can set you on a clear path to people-centric management.  

But as we mentioned earlier, this is only a first step. Simply having the conversation isn’t enough: to get real engagement and productivity results, you need to keep having these conversations consistently and make sure that actions are being followed up.   

That’s where a performance management tool like OpenBlend comes in. It gives structure, actions and accountability to make people-centric management a valuable tool to your business, not just a nice to have for employees.  

To talk through how the platform could work for you and how OpenBlend makes people-centric management possible in any business, give us a call 01628 613040 or book a demo today.

Download the people-centric guide to performance management

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