Empowering outperformance

19 june 2017

At HRbuilders we are committed to connecting great HR people, providing you with valuable curated content and helping you as an HR professional to stay ahead of the curve. It is also our mission to shake things up in the sector of Human Resources and to look into the new ways of working in game changing companies in Belgium and abroad.

Last week, #dreamteam member and Country Manager Belgium, Lesley Arens, joined approximately 500 HR pracitioners and academics at the 14th Vlerick HR day in the beautiful city of Ghent. Happy to share her summary and some key learnings & insights with you…


3D world: data – digital - disrupted

The 3D world in which work and play are no longer opposites, has become our playground. In order to survive and thrive, dazzling speed and juggling are required.

It is not the amount nor the availability of data that is new in this 3D world, says Marion Debruyne, Dean Vlerick Business School. It’s the fact that all this data now can be digitalized, making it possible to analyze it.

Disruption is everywhere! Also in learning and education: I was introduced to Jill Watson, Georgia Tech's first AI teaching assistant: a team of Georgia Tech graduate students built Jill Watson last year. She began providing responses to student questions in January and the students were flabbergasted when they found out that Jill Watson, one of the nine teaching assistants that had helped them navigate the challenging course for the past five months was not a “she,” but an “it”.

Imagine what this could mean for formal education, for business schools,…

You can learn more about Jill via this link or watch the ted talk 

"The spread of computers, the internet and AI will put jobs in two categories: people who tell computers what to do, and people who are told by computers what to do." (Andreesen)

3 imperatives in our 3 D world

According to Marion there are 3 imperatives in our 3D world:

  • Unleash the innovative power of people working for you, with you (this is the challenge)
  • Learning is a constant, unlearning a necessity (this should be the mantra)
  • Always start with the why, from the customer’s point of view (the vision)

5 key learnings on how to respond in this 3D world:

#1 Make sure the virgin eye is present in your company

Why not introduce an astonishment report by new hires during the first month of their onboarding?

#2 Develop a peripheral vision

When spring comes, snow melts at the edges. Change always happens at the edges, that’s why it is key to develop a peripheral vision!

#3 When competing with disruptors, think judo

Marion suggested to use leverage when competing with big disruptors: the ‘weight’ of your opponent can become your strenght, just like in judo.

#4 Change doesn’t happen like a tsunami, so don’t respond to it as if it is a tsunami

It is wrong to think that change happens overnight as if it is a tsunami. Change is a lot messier. That’s why it is key to invite ideas from your employees, customers, let them experiment and fail forward and once they start implementing change, you should move them out of the company in order for them not to be interrupted and to be freed of structure and day-to-day shit that could prevent them from moving forward.

#5 Uncover hidden truths and then change the default

You should always challenge the status quo and never just accept default settings. That’s not how to tap into innovation..

Empowering outperformance

One of the most inspiring talks of the day, was Dixie Dansercoer’s story on how to empower outperformance out on the Antarctic and what corporate life can learn from it. He took his audience on a journey beyond all challenges, to the frozen extremes of this planet, his habitat.

"Better to illuminate then to merely shine"

Preparation is key to any larger goal

If you want to go on a expedition with Dixie, it takes about 3 (!) years to prepare and you have to be willing to outperform. If your why is clear, then you will be prepared to go beyond performance.

How to prepare: 75% (mental) - 25% (physical) – nutrition and enough sleep.

3 key take aways on how to succesfully prepare for an expedition to the Antarctic and in Business

  1. If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail
  2. Always have a back-up plan but don’t dwell on it
  3. Surround yourself with a network of specialists that will help you with things you’re not good at yourself.

Invite difficulty into your life

If you want to succeed in your preparation, you have to be willing to invite difficulty into your life and adopt an outperformance attitude.

The difference between preparation and execution is the first step

Companies tend to spend months preparing but never go live. You have to trust your team and trust that they will outperform.

What’s your life or death moment?

It’s all about focus: on the Antarctic and in business life. It’s key to determine the ultimate treshold priority (= the before death moment). That way, when in extreme situations or when change is needed, you’ll know exactly what to do. In times of crisis it is more important then ever to keep communicating how severe the situation is, you have to be willing to ask for help and find creative solutions as you go…

Focus on the painting, not the frame

The third influencer of the day was Ignace Van Doorselaere who shared some alternative ways to drive and recognise performance by moving beyond the traditional performance management approach.

A strong business consists of addicted employees, committed customers, sustainable shareholders and a great product or service to offer.

Just like a painting needs a frame, a strong business needs a frame (structure and procedures),but the frame shouldn’t kill it.

The duty of a company is to create circumstances in which employees are prepared to go all the way. And the duty of the employees is to be willing to go all the way…

That’s the culture you need, according to Ignace, if you want to thrive and as soon as this culture erodes, the company will decline.

He implemented this in Neuhaus building something that people believe will last forever...

In digital times direct communication with your employees is key, says Ignace:

  • you should always communicate personally to everyone, not via mail.
  • you should always involve the the last domino, you can do this via monthly ‘sandwich sessions’ with your employees
  • you should break down internal walls and make everybody responsible.

And the biggest challenge for HR?

HR has to replace evaluation by an evaluation culture

When things go wrong at home, you talk about it immediately, right? So why do we act differently at work?

A big caveat

It is not wise to abolish performance reviews with no alternative in place because otherwise you will have chaos. Ignace shared with us the Neuhaus HR framework with talent monitoring, a remuneration that is internally consistent and externally competetive, the importance of training and learning via an ecosystem and the quality of line managers which is crucial to performance.

Don’t be systemless, have less systems...


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