Use Performance Development to Create a Happy Workplace

More than 10 years ago, during my last year of business school, I met an impressive professor who developed a method of employee assessment and evaluation.

He had dedicated two decades of his life to the study of appreciative inquiry, which highlights employees’ strengths rather than focuses on their weaknesses. These glass-half-full evaluations had a tremendous, positive impact on productivity, eventually resulting in better overall organizational performance.

Generally, you can only improve your weak points by 10 to 20 percent. Nurturing your strong suits, on the other hand, can more than double performance outputs. All you need is need is a little encouragement.

Now, this professor (Avi Kluger) has developed yet another method, known as “Feed for Ward.” The idea is simple — identifying your employees’ strengths will spark an immediate change in the way they approach their work and foster a happier workforce, making for better business.

The Link Between Happiness to Productiveness

Throughout my career as both a direct and indirect manager of hundreds of employees, I took Kluger’s method one step further.

Today, so many people are constantly seeking happiness. Whether it’s through meditation, mindfulness, or other tension-reducing techniques. Most of us are stressed out from the demands of day-to-day life: from the competition, the need to stand out, the desire to make something of ourselves. Not to mention, in an age and place where our work seems to define us, we experience even more pressure to be beyond excellent.

I always felt that employees should bring their passion to the workplace. They should be able to feel impassioned, inspired, and indispensable. That way, they’ll be excited to share that passion and knowledge with their coworkers.

Developing Employees or Developing People?

As a manager, I’ve often used a performance evaluation tool to help my employees see their own strengths. Together, we define their star qualities and discuss how I, as their manager or mentor, can help them shine. Then, my employees are properly equipped to become leaders in their respective fields of expertise.

Better yet, the performance evaluation gives me an overview of all individuals’ strengths, so I can conduct a true team orchestra — where each instrument contributes to the ensemble, making music that is better than the sum of its parts. This way, I was able to put each team member in the right seat and maximize every individual’s contribution to the business.

In short, my philosophy is to encourage each employee to focus on what they love to do, and help them sharpen their strongest skills.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: what about that work that nobody wants to do, but still needs to be done? Well, when employees have regular opportunities to shine, they’re more connected to their own goals and those of the company — and thus, more willing to spend time on energy doing the things they don’t love so much.

How do you evaluate your employees? Setting the right ground can make all the difference!