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Holistic performance is underwritten by ISPI in its 10 International Standards.  In this article I will show you how, by applying a trusted way of focusing on holistic performance, you can achieve sustainable results and impact.

If you want to ‘dust off’ your strategic business, HR, Learning and Development (L&D) strategy – you need this.

The performance landscape is changing so fast it is almost impossible to keep up with the new models and theories that constantly emerge.  Working with clients over a number of years, I have found that a holistic approach to HR and L&D ultimately works best.

What is holistic performance?

Holistic performance is driven by 4-point principles and a 3-point practice.  This is what I refer to as a ‘back-to-basics’ approach. This tactic can be used to refresh and re-position any HR, L&D strategy or business engagement model.

So what is it?

The basic premise is that performance happens in a system and therefore systemic thinking can provide the best possible impact for your business and give you sustainable results.  This is based on a 60+year methodology called Performance Improvement practice of the International Society of Performance Improvement (ISPI).  You can use the 4 principles (the first four International Standards of ISPI) below as a guide to help you develop a ‘back-to-basics’ framework that will deliver results for your organisation:

  1. Results focused:  This reminds us to focus on results and outcomes (standard 1).
  2. Systemic and systematic thinking:  This reminds us to approach any results systemically (standard 2).
  3. Value and sustainable outcomes:  This reminds us to focus on the value in our work (standard 3).
  4. Partnership engagement: This reminds us to partner with stakeholders to achieve sustainable results (standard 4).

What is the practice?

The holistic performance 3-point practice is systems thinking ‘in action’.  Previously, I mentioned that performance happens in a system – this system is driven by organisational impact factors, operational impact factors and people impact factors.  When there is a gap in any of these levels, this misalignment will negatively impact performance. This is illustrated below where organisational and business performance is at the centre of these levels:

  1. Workplace = Organisational impact factors:  Examples include poor communication and information flow, lack of performance culture and ineffective leadership practices.
  2. Work = Operational impact factors:  Examples include outdated procedures, lack of SOPs, misinterpreted value chains and ineffective and outdated systems.
  3. Worker = People impact factors:  Examples include a lack of knowledge or skill and a lack of performance motivation.

Ask yourself these 4 questions:

The performance indicators below are vital to the success of a ‘back-to-basics’ approach:

  • Performance culture:  Do managers create and practise a performance culture conducive to performance and employee engagement?
  • Leadership practices:  Do managers set an example, are they visible and accessible to employees?
  • Communication:  Is all the information needed to plan, execute and evaluate performance readily available? Is it made available to all levels of staff?
  • Flow of information:  Do employees receive the information needed to deliver the performance results expected (this is often the biggest obstacle to holistic performance)?

International research indicates a misalignment of these indicators is prevalent in the workplace and often the main reason for poor organisational performance.

In the new movie ‘Spotlight’, an investigative journalist says to his team, who are struggling to find solutions: “Don’t go after the people, go after the system”.  I felt this was so applicable in our field of work.  Often we want to change people performance before we address organisational and operational misalignments. But possibly the best place to start is to ‘dust off’ your HR strategy and align it to a holistic approach.

Why is this so important for HR and L&D?

Implementing the 4-point principle and a 3-point practice system provides a ‘back-to-basics’ approach where business and HR views performance holistically. This is a perfect starting point to reposition your HR and L&D strategies for better engagement with business.

A checklist every HR and L&D manager should use

You can use the following checklists to get your HR re-alignment started:

Checklist for organisation impact level:

  • Reposition and refresh the overall HR and L&D strategies to focus on holistic performance.
  • Design a results- and value-based model that is aligned with this new strategy.
  • Refresh and/or re-design your business engagement strategy and model.

Checklist for operational impact level:

  • Reposition and refresh your business-partnering and operating plan.
  • Redesign your performance- and results-operating model.
  • Develop a holistic, performance architecture operating process.
  • Design competency architecture aligned with your engagement and performance-operating model.

Checklist for people impact level:

  • Design a Performance Improvement competency and curriculum framework.
  • Build and implement a holistic, performance competence and change process.
  • Design Performance Improvement development plans that are aligned with the desired competencies.
  • Align the Performance Management system to the holistic performance approach.

How to get started?

Below is a framework you can use for planning and implementing a high-level picture to ‘kick-start’ this new approach to holistic performance:

And if you remember nothing else, remember:  How we think, is what we do; and what we commit to; is the change for sustainable performance impact.

Ove the next 12 months we plan a series of articles which will focus in-depth on the 10 International Standards of ISPI.  Each article will focus specifically on tips, tools, short application case studies and links to articles, website and more.

Author: Belia Nel

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