Thinking of Employee Performance as an Experience

Mark Lewis
May 30, 2023

The 'Process' Trap: Thinking You've Nailed Continuous Feedback? Think Again!

For this scenario let’s say we're focused on a continuous feedback approach to employee performance. It’s easy to think of this as a ‘process’ where we choose a framework model such as SBI, 4A’s, ABCD, etc. Couple this with training sessions, discussion about the benefits of feedback and some printable templates and we might think we’ve set our managers and team members up for a culture of feedback.

Engineering Meets Empathy: My Mum's Advice for Employee Connections

With a background in engineering, I like this approach too - it feels logical and practical.

But my mum always taught me to be empathetic and this is where we think deeply about the experience of the people involved, not just the process we want them to use. As we create journey maps for employee experiences, it’s helpful to create backstories for each participant involved.

Participant Backstories: The Secret Sauce for Real Understanding

Some example backstories for participants in a feedback experience might look like this:


'Team members can feel anxious or defensive when receiving constructive feedback, worrying that their job might be at risk or it's a reflection on them personally. At the same time, managers often feel discomfort and pressure about delivering critical feedback. Both participants want a safe and effective way to communicate constructive information, so they can focus more energy on learning and continuously improving.'


'HR often get called into emergency situations where team members haven’t received frequent feedback and a minor issue has grown into a big problem. It can be frustrating getting distracted away from strategic work and having to spend so much time on performance issues that may have been avoided with early intervention. HR want a way to create a culture of feedback and open discussion so it’s normal for employees to make course corrections, so HR can stay focused on higher-impact strategic activities.'

Why Your Fancy Framework Might Flop (And How to Avoid It)

By considering the thoughts and feelings of each participant, we can design beyond the ‘process’ for a more comfortable 'human experience'. If it’s an uncomfortable experience, no matter how good the framework, training, benefits and templates are - the participation rate will, unfortunately, be low.

It's these participant backstories that act as a guiding light for HR processes that get adopted.

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