18 June, 2020 | OpenBlend

What does people-centric mean? — OpenBlend


No doubt you’ve heard this term being bandied around in the press, on LinkedIn, in your office, or in management meetings. But what does it actually mean?

A lot of businesses will consider themselves ‘people-centric’ or 'people-first'. They’ll have a company people policy. They’ll have constructed an environment designed to offer a relaxed, comfortable experience. They’ll pride themselves on their communication and collaboration. They’ll have a social aspect to the workplace that brings people together 

And they’ll probably have a pool table, too.

But are they really people-centric? Or is there more to creating a people-first approach than meets the eye?

For many of those businesses, and the managers who work for them, this period of working from home has highlighted that a lot of what they thought was ‘people-centric’ about their business, was actually ‘employee experience’.  And it couldn’t be replicated through remote working (no matter how many team quizzes and cocktail hours were hosted over Zoom).

The common denominator 

At OpenBlend, we believe that people-centric businesses should have one thing in common.

  • It’s not a free breakfast bar.
  • It’s not a neon ‘do what you love’ sign on the wall. 
  • It’s not friendly, high-fiving managers.
It’s a performance structure that places the individual at the heart of everything.

People-centric means:

1. Seeing the human being behind the job title

We all need to ditch the idea of a work/life balance and start thinking about our work-life blend. We’re not two different people, one at work and another at home. If we can recognise ourselves, our colleagues and our employees as a complete person, with a unique set of personal and professional challenges, aspirations and drivers, we can create an environment in which we are all enabled to be our best at work.

2. Tailoring management strategies to the individual, not the team

Similar to being customer centric, to be a people centric workplace you need managers who can tailor their approach to individuals, rather than operating a cookie-cutter set of expectations and management methods. This can be tricky for managers to navigate, but with the right framework, it is possible and will get results: increased productivity, engagement and wellbeing.

3. Having honest, open conversations with employees

We’re not talking about water-cooler chat or Friday nights in the pub (remember those?). Being friendly, understanding and conversational is not the same as being people-centric. Conversations between managers and employees need to be honest, open, structured and accountable. The right questions need to be asked to prompt responses that go beneath the surface. This isn’t always easy: some people are more forthcoming than others, but a people-centric approach enables these conversations for everyone. 

4. Creating actionable outcomes that drive development, rather than stall it

There’s a difference between recognising individual needs and acting on them. Management conversations need to go beyond ‘I hear you’ to ‘now what can we do to change this?’ If an employee is struggling with an unmanageable workload (like James here) it’s not enough to give advice and understanding. They need a series of actions to address the problem, whether that’s helping them have the confidence to say ‘no’ or reallocating work elsewhere. 

5. Getting the best out of every person, whatever their circumstances

Say you have a very talented team member, but work hours and/or location is making their role difficult. A traditional business could say, ‘well, that’s the job’. The result is either a) the employee’s performance declines or b) they take their talent elsewhere. A people-centric workplace would look at how the employee’s needs could be met and what benefit it would bring to the business. Meaning that talent is then kept in the business, and not lost to a competitor.

6. Supporting managers with coaching, training and the right tools to thrive

Managers cannot become people-centric without the right synonym mindset or support from their business. They need coaching to have the right conversations and training to recognise effective next steps. They need the authority to make people-centric decisions and enable their teams to explore their work-life blend. And they need a structure that underpins this style of performance management and keeps conversations, accountability and actions on track, like the OpenBlend platform.

So now you know what people-centric really means. How will you make it part of your performance structure?

If you want more information about how to enable employee performance using a people-centric approach, download our guide to people-centric performance management.

Download the people-centric performance management guide


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