What does it feel like for you to feel constrained from showing your true and full self. For me it’s not a great feeling as I’m always left feeling inadequate. I keep thinking of all the times in my past jobs where I was clearly told “You are not enough”. It’s like a pandemic which has infected companies everywhere! It saddens me to see this happening. How can people be expected to excel when they need to leave part of themselves at home?
Human Resources best practice dating back to god knows when says the best way to grow good people is to give them a Performance Review. Most places I worked mandate that managers complete them once per year. In a couple places I’ve been they even augment them with quarterly reviews. Like so many best practices the manager generally groans about having to complete this nice piece of bureaucracy, and procrastinates until the last minute. Then starts filling in the required fields … what did the employee do well, what did they accomplish, and what can they work on.
The problem with the performance review process is it sends a clear message of “you did a good job this year … but … here are areas you need to improve”. The key is the word “but” … it negates everything they did bring to the table during the year. Then the template goes on to tell people how they need to develop in some area. Although we should always look for areas of improvement where these best practices fail is to look at the complete person. Do the areas of improvement align with the essence of what grounds this person?
What would be possible if we abolished the performance review process. Instead of trying to manage a portion of the resource, try providing leadership to the whole person. On an ongoing basis provide them coaching, support, mentoring, etc to help them grow as a person (instead of a resource). What if Leaders simply took a total coaching stance with their people? Now the message companies would be sending is “You are enough! Lets tap into your inner leader and help you achieve your dreams!”
The classic interview looks backwards in a person’s history. Tell me about your best project. Tell me about your worst project. What are your strengths. What are your weaknesses. The problem with all of these in my experience is they are about the person I used to be working for a different company. This approach shows little interest in the complete me.
The problem with this backward looking approach is the perspective employer is only looking through a small peephole at this person. They are not seeing the complete person to find out what makes them whole. How do you know if the person is a good fit for your company’s culture without knowing about the whole person? What if the person’s real purpose in life works against your company culture?
What would be possible if we spent time getting to know the person who is present at this point in time? What are their dreams? What is really important to them? What is their inner leader saying to them about their dreams? What is holding them back from achieving their dreams? Really see the whole person for who they are now. Of course we do need to look at the experiences making them the person they are as well. However, provide it with a weighting commensurate to the value of the past experiences at your company … a handful.
What would be possible if everyone could bring their complete self to work?
There are so many other places I could take this post. In my past and in my current travels I see far too many examples where companies are telling people please don’t bring your complete self to work. Check your emotions at the door. You are not enough.
Imagine a world where everyone was allowed to bring their complete self to work. The parts which make them whole. The parts that light them up and give them passion about their work. The parts that allow them to stand firmly grounded in their values. When I imagine this I see a group of people who walk around saying “I have the best job ever”. Better yet I imagine a group of people caring about what they produce.
What can you change to allow everyone at work to say “I am enough”.