The P.U.S.H. Approach to Performance Development

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Home > Articles > The P.U.S.H. Approach to Performance Development

 The P.U.S.H. Approach to Performance Development

Kim Underhill | Today's Manager
September 1, 2020

Performance Management should not be managed like a check-list approached differently and here’s how.

How do you rate Performance Management in your organisation?  Is it yet another tick on the check-list of things human resource (HR) needs to do or is the process truly beneficial to the organisation and its people? 

Laszlo Bock, Formal SVP People Operations, Google once commented that Performance Management as practised by most organisations has become a rule-based, bureaucratic process, enlisting as an end in itself rather than actually shaping performance. Employees hate it. Managers hate it. Sometimes, though many may not admit it, even HR hates it.

A fairly strong statement but not without reasoning. The process to manage performance while it is necessary, is a lot of dedicated hard work, can be time consuming and costly, not just for the tools but for the time taken away from the managers and the employees to do their duties.

Organisation today talk about Performance Development rather than Performance Management. Simply put, if your people are well-developed, there should be fairly little management necessary.

Key importance in people development is how leaders, talent managers, and HR approach the selection and development of people for growth.

The P.U.S.H. Approach looks at what you need to prepare, avoid, be, and do when developing people.

Proactive (What to PREPARE)
Often than not, many organisations have the tendency to scramble around looking for replacements of roles that were suddenly vacant, be it due to dismissal, resignation, or loss to unforeseen circumstances, etc. Preparations are commonly done but not always, for senior or high potential personnel. What about the majority of your people in the mid- to high-levels?  Three key areas to be proactively manage such situation are:

  • Observation: Regardless of whether there is a need to fill any roles, it is important to always look out for potential candidates both internally and externally. Having a list of potential candidates in line helps shorten the replacement process. Always be on the look-out and be observant of all the stakeholders around you;
  • Conversation: Having observed and possibly identified some likely potential candidates, start the conversation to have a better ‘feel’ of the fit. This process allows you to mentally shortlist someone for succession planning, replacement of incompetency etc. You do not have to wait for annual or bi-annual appraisal to have conversation with your people. Always be ready to have casual chats surrounding each employee’s career aspiration; and
  • Reservation: Having that conversation takes time and effort. Mostly importantly you have to be truly interested in helping these employees grow. I get people coming to me wanting to switch from one role to another like from administration to sales. If your observation and conversation tell you that this could be a potential shift, what you can do is something I call “role enhancement”. It is a form of reservation through the expansion of their existing role with additional work relating to the new shift. By doing so, both you and the employee get the chance to trial with minimum risk. Hence the reservation of a new role while existing role remained reserved for just in case he/she could not succeed. In which case, he/she can continue to keep their current job.

Unconscious Bias (What to AVOID)
Every organisation is concerned and very aware of the existence of unconscious bias in people development decision making process. Unfortunately, while many knew, few are consciously avoiding it.

  • Panic: We have seen “panic hire” when a position suddenly became vacant. This happened when managers rushed to fill the role by moving someone they think/feel could do the job or take on the extra responsibility. This is the easiest and fastest shortcut. Unfortunately it often does not work because these people were never prep for the roles. They were thrown into the deep end in hope that they do not sink.
  • Impulsive: Similarly when developing people. You should not develop only people you know, you like, or you think is the right match. This is purely one person’s perspective and fairly impulsive. I often do a simple exercise during my workshop to prove this theory. Close your eyes, imagine you have a project coming up where you need to put together a team of five people, now list down the five people you have in mind. If you are able to list these five people, you are making an unconscious bias mistake… reason being I did not tell you what is the project about, so how can you simply select these people not knowing their knowledge, skills, abilities, personality, and potential team dynamics, etc.
  • Top-down: How many of us has experienced the selection of grooming someone simply because the boss said so? As a leader/manager, it is alright to recommend candidates for grooming with clarity but should never insist or use his/her authoritative power.

Selflessness (What to BE)
When you start to lead, always remember that it is no longer about you. Leadership is about your heart and it is about your people.

  • Leadership: If your aspiration to become a leader is all about how to build and grow oneself for personal and monetary gain, you will never be a great leader. A great leader is genuine and develops people continuously and through these people, grow the business and company.
  • Purpose: Always know the ‘why’ do you want to develop people before jumping into ‘what’ and ‘how’. Once you understand the ‘why’, you can now look at what/how to development them through mentoring and sponsoring. It is easy to say that many organisations have mentoring programmes. Question is how many of their leaders are ready to become ‘sponsors’ when developing people. To sponsor someone during a development journey is to “stick your neck out” for them like recommending them for next promotion and continue to mentor them on their journey.

Human in HR (What to DO)
Having observed and worked with HR partners, it is sad to say that many HR personnel (not all) are too focussed on the procedures and processes to ensure all boxes are ticked, that they forgot the ‘human’ when developing people.

  • Beyond the Check List: Many become tasks focused ensuring that all the analytics, statistics, data, comparison, compliance, policy etc. are done instead of finding time and passion to truly understanding what each employee’s development needs are and what they can do to help the process. Instead many simply ‘fill in gaps’.
  • People People vs Paper People: A simple term I used often to define how people behave in their work environment. When developing people, do you do it because it has to be done, or do you do it because it needs to be one. If it has to be done because of corporate policy, then it is clearly a paper pushing process. If it is done because the company needs to development people to grow, then it is people developing process. So which one are you?


Ms Kim Underhill is the founder and managing partner of Ultimate Balance Consultancy. With over 23 years of experience in the food service industry, she has held key roles at multinational commercial and manufacturing organisations—managing key accounts of Fortune 500 companies such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, Nestle, Unilever, and more. She is a highly engaged member in both business and women’s empowerment communities, the president of Daughters of Tomorrow, and the author of Success Inside Out, Challenge or Choice.



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Today's Manager Issue 3, 2020

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