How to Apply Design Thinking in your Workplace
Steffen Maier | HR| By
In an illuminating TEDTalk “The way we think about work is broken”, Barry Schwartz encourages us to think about whether it’s human nature that creates institutions or institutions which can shape human nature. In traditional factory lines work was based simply on the exchange of labor for money. However, money doesn’t have to be the only thing that drives people to get up and go to work every morning.
Rather than creating a workplace in which people go to do the bare minimum, designing an institution that allows and facilitates people’s innate need to use their creativity, find purpose and reach their potential will shape the way people feel about work.
Companies are now delegating a significant amount of responsibility for updating antiquated procedures to HR in the effort to build more inventive, agile, and engaged workplaces. A lot of HR innovators have taken advantage of this time to do some long overdue cleaning up of failed institutions and building of new processes that represent the distinctive people and purpose guiding their firm.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not just for businesses with big funds to spend on Google-style incentives. You can positively improve your organization even without a budget.
Modern HR innovators don’t take any institution, practice, or procedure for granted. Putting yourself in the position of the people who work in and run your company and being open to new options are the only ways to find out what actually works best. Despite how terrifying it may sound, this is not a call for complete anarchy. A new perspective on your company will be given to you because to the highly organized nature of design thinking.
What Is Design Thinking?
Until now design thinking has mostly been used to create a customer focused approach to designing and marketing products. However, today HR professionals are realizing they can use this methodology to design better employee experiences. In fact, the adoption of this process has had so much success that Deloitte’s Global Human Capital trends recognized design thinking as one of the top trends to follow.
According to Tim Brown, CEO of international design firm IDEO:
“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”
The process encourages you to look at three main touch points within the organization to better understand what’s needed. These are the processes, people and technology that your employees come into contact with at each stage of their journey throughout the organization.
Which processes are cumbersome? Which need to be abolished? How much support do your people receive from team leads or peers? Are there new solutions which can make your employees’ lives easier?
There are two tools which can help you get into the design thinking mindset. One is employee journey mapping. This allows you to map out the stages and assess touchpoints at each step using your people data. The other is employee personas. These fictional characters allow you to visualize and put yourself into the mindset of your employee.
Creating a People-Centric Performance Management Process
Performance management is one of the most important cornerstones of your organization. Having a strong system in place that will help your people develop and grow new skills will give your company the advantage it needs to meet industry changes head on. At the same time, helping your workforce improve also keeps engagement levels high.
Rather than simply an exchange of money for services, today’s employees are looking to exchange their time and effort for growth and learning opportunities. In a recent survey, Gallup found that 87 percent of millennials considered professional development or career growth opportunities to be very important in a job.
Professional growth should be seen as an exchange between employees and the organization, but rather than money, it’s about an exchange of value. Valuable knowledge and skills in return for help further developing and honing those skills.
Think About the Journey…
Think about the 3 different touchpoints (processes, people, technology) your workforce comes into contact with during performance reviews. How do they impact their experience?
- Who benefits? Is it seen as a process that helps the company identify top and low performers? Or as a process that is meant to help individuals grow and develop?
- How long does it take from the time when they fill out their self-assessment until the time when they receive their results?
- Who gives and receives feedback?
- Do managers receive upward feedback from reports?
- Do people receive training on how to give feedback actionable?
- What kind of performance management tools do people use during the process?
- Is the process straightforward and user-friendly?
View the Process Through the Lens of Your Personas
Everyone will approach each touchpoint they come across during the process with various goals, pains, and experiences. Consider the voyage from each of the several perspectives.
Customer personas are made-up individuals that marketers create to represent various customer kinds. Based on information gathered from consumer feedback, interviews, and focus groups, they frequently receive names and bios that include their likes, dislikes, pain points, and objectives. The theory is that by using a small number of fictitious clients to represent bigger interest groups, you may optimize procedures for a broader audience. For example:
Julie the new manager:
- Wants to give her team helpful feedback that will encourage them to improve
- Nervous about giving constructive feedback to a few team members who used to be peers
- Expects to have a better idea of who her top performers are and where the team needs to improve at the end of the process
- Also wants to gain insights into her performance as a team lead
Paul the millennial employee:
- Expects to find out what his strengths are in the team
- Has trouble analyzing the feedback he received and creating a strong development plan
- Wants to receive more feedback outside of performance reviews
Anna the new tech hire:
- Wants to be recognized for her achievements
- Expects a fair balanced assessment but encountered bias in the assessments she received at her previous company: does not trust the process
- Wants to be able to receive feedback on cross-collaborative projects she participated in
When you rebuild your performance management process, take into account how you may tailor it to your various personas’ demands. Combining these two tools and mapping out the many touchpoints (processes, people, and technology) your personas might come into contact with during your existing performance management process is the best way to get a complete picture. Think about the variations in how each would be affected.
You can rethink performance management at your company in a way that takes into account your larger workforce thanks to the insights generated by this exercise. In terms of performance management, there is no one size fits all method. You may design an experience that matches your particular business with the use of design thinking.