Performance Management

What is performance enablement?

We explore the difference between performance management and enablement – and examine why businesses are choosing to combine the two to empower their employees and maximise productivity.

What is performance enablement?

‘Dignity and purpose’. These are two of the key things that businesses need to provide to their employees if they want to achieve certified B Corporation status: the mark of a forward-thinking, altruistic and sustainable company.

But dignity and purpose extend beyond B Corporation certification. Thanks to digital communications and the dramatic increase in home and hybrid working, our work and personal lives are increasingly merging together. As a result, employees expect more from their employers. More space to focus on their priorities. More career progression. More meaningful employment. More personal development. More transparency. A sense of belonging. A more harmonious blend between life and work. Every employee wants dignity and purpose – and as the search for talent becomes more competitive than ever, businesses need to be ready to deliver that promise.

Performance enablement is a key part of the solution – and here’s what businesses need to know to make it an intrinsic part of their corporate identity and create an environment where people can perform at their best.

What is the definition of performance enablement?

Put simply, performance enablement is about moving beyond objective measurement metrics into understanding what it takes to empower employees to grow, develop and perform their best at work.

Performance enablement shifts the focus from ‘how can we get more output from our employees?’ to ‘how can we empower our employees to deliver their best?’

The answers to those questions are different for every business as they are at different stages of maturity in their performance journey. The only way to discover the solutions that are right for your organisation is through performance conversation: regular, transparent, and actionable 1:1 conversations, that move beyond performance objectives and discuss everything from wellbeing levels and motivation drivers to consistent feedback.

How is performance enablement different from performance management?

Driven by HR, traditional performance management focuses more exclusively on managers setting objectives and employee appraisals to a schedule run by HR. It’s a method of monitoring, maintaining and improving employee performance, to meet business goals

Performance enablement, on the other hand, retains the focus on commercial goals but the manager takes a regular and active role in understanding the individual employee, beyond objectives to boost productivity. Ownership of performance is shifted from HR to the business as a whole, with managers playing a vital role in communicating an aligned purpose and assessing what every employee needs to deliver their best.

Performance enablement also empowers the employee to take more ownership and even more importantly, the performance enablement process is tailored to them. They recognise their role in growing their business and understand and work towards shared business goals.

Why is combined performance management and enablement important for businesses today?

Combined performance management and enablement doesn’t focus purely on tracking results: it drives the way in which results are achieved. Rather than a generic approach to performance, it’s tailored to individual needs, moving the focus from a ‘performance only culture,’ to a ‘people-centric culture.’

As an increasing number of businesses are discovering, it’s driving better commercial results than purely performance-based management methods and it positively impacts recruitment and retention.

Successful combined performance management and enablement needs to be led by managers, with support from HR. Managers are therefore tasked with connecting employee needs with the commercial needs of the business, and it’s no minor feat. If managers need going to communicate ‘dignity and purpose’ and drive commercial outcomes, they need to be fully equipped to do so. 

What do businesses need to do to enable better performance? 

The most important thing that businesses need to do is support their managers, giving them the tools and coaching support they need to enable their teams. A report by Gallup found that 70% of a team's engagement is influenced by managers, with the expectation being that the manager becomes ‘more of a coach than a boss’.

Giving managers access to coaching, information and a structured performance management platform are vital. With the OpenBlend platform, managers are given access to an easy-to-use performance management and enablement framework to carry out actionable, accountable 1:1s, with coaching prompts built into the platform that encourage them to ask the right questions, at the right times, and take the most effective actions.

Underpinning this, OpenBlend’s GROW model gives managers a road map to follow that guides them through the process of turning conversations into actions. The model breaks performance enablement into four sections, with targets and success definitions for each:

  • Goal: What do you want?
  • Reality: Where are you now?
  • Options: What could you/we do to move towards that goal?
  • Way forward: What do you/we need to do?

This action plan allows managers to take the step from traditional ‘management’ to ‘enablement’ – not only measuring their employees' output and productivity but finding solutions to help them take ownership of their performance and motivate them towards success.

What’s the commercial impact of performance enablement? 

With the right performance enablement tool, the right coaching for managers and a holistic people-centric approach, businesses will see better commercial results. A happy, motivated workforce is a productive workforce – with a healthy blend of work and personal priorities boosting engagement.

A move to performance enablement can also help businesses to secure their B Corporation certification, demonstrating that they are focused on meeting the highest levels of social performance, balancing profit, and purpose to be a corporate force for good.

If businesses want to give their employees ‘dignity and purpose,’ a move away from traditional performance management and metrics, and towards people-centric performance enablement, is a must.

How does OpenBlend support performance enablement?

OpenBlend is a people-centric performance platform that ensures managers can both manage and enable people to perform at their best. Through effective 1:1 conversations, OpenBlend starts by providing businesses with the tools they need to master people-centric performance management and our customer success team supports the journey towards enabling performance through rollout, one that is tailored to each and every individual and has empowerment at its core.

With enablement features such as wellbeing, employee motivation, coaching prompts, feedback, people analytics and instant recognition-OpenBlend is not only a platform for performance enablement via 1:1 conversations, but it gives the coaching and tools managers need to make it a success. Functions like 'Motivators' (where employees can identify and prioritise their key performance and motivation drivers) and Wellbeing (which helps employees and managers navigate wellbeing check-ins during 1:1 conversations) enables people-centric performance management and enablement to become instinctive and embedded into an organisation’s corporate culture.

To find out more about the practical ways that OpenBlend drives performance enablement for organisations like Gymshark, M&C Saatchi and Foxtons and learn more about how it can support your journey from performance management to enablement in your organisation, contact our team to find out more or book a demo. We’d love to hear from you.

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