Performance Management matters, but in this area like many others, what got us here won’t get us there.

Most of our HR frameworks—like our competency dictionaries, our set of values, our codes of conduct, and the like—serve more as instruments for evaluation than guiding tools for attaining our full potential.

They work a posteriori, once or twice a year, but barely serve anyone as a guide along the way. They are instruments of compliance, not levers of passion and inspiration.

As a result of this philosophy, it was only natural that we decided that the best practice was to ensure that all our frameworks would contain behavioral facets, to allow us to “objectively” measure and compare each individual against certain standards. We all got highly specialized in various methodologies and tools, and in that adventure, we forgot to check where we wanted to land.

What we wanted, really, was not to have compliant people. We wanted enthused, motivated, engaged, passionate people. We wanted our HR tools to guide them, to inspire them in the face of adversity, in situations requiring courage or discipline, in the midst of their everyday challenges. We wanted to equip them, not to restrain them.

Somehow, we succeeded in increasing the level of performance within our organisations, but the great distance before us will not be reached by expecting people to act by the books. We have to find ways to bring inspiration back into our HR frameworks to serve people who desperately need it on the battlefield. Really, we have to ignite a fire.

What would help us to do so? What would engage our people wholeheartedly in unknown territory?

Well, sailors use compasses, and so does our psyche. We humans love to find inspiration in quotes, stories, quests, adventures. Like a compass, they give us a direction without being prescriptive in any way, allowing personal expression and unique talents to emerge. They awaken the giant within us and accompany us to new heights. As we pay them a visit, quotes and proverbs always treat us well by returning a favor in the form of a new insight or a vibrant new understanding. Drawn from a long experience, they have various layers on the inside, allowing people from different backgrounds to find nourishment on their journeys.

I always dreamed of working for a company with a state-of-the-art inspirational culture. I remembered having been impressed by Jason Nazar and his hero’s framework and thought it was an inspiring and creative way to foster employee engagement. It tapped into people’s imagination and promoted a state of resourcefulness.

Why not? Why not change the norm by developing tools and HR processes that work for the people, more than for the decision-makers? In the end, if it works for the people, it will work for their executives.

Behavioral vs. Inspirational Competency Dictionaries

For instance, we may consider the adoption of an inspirational competency dictionary, as opposed to a behavioral competency dictionary, as shown below.

CUSTOMER FOCUS: From “consistently meets his/her client’s expectations” to “Customers are not an interruption of our work, they are the purpose of it.”

EMPOWERING: From “delegates routine tasks as well as important activities to develop people” to “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

PERSEVERANCE: From “pursues his/her goals in the face of adversity” to “Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal.”

The development of such a dictionary should be guided by a concern for development, for situational wisdom, and for evoking the best in each and every one of us.

Only in this way would people willingly sacrifice who they are for what they can become—which is at the very core of a culture of peak performance.


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