Under-toasted banana bread to understand performance management

A lesson from under-toasted banana bread

You learn something every day, even mundane things like how you like your bread toasted. Learning is a continuous journey – the challenge is harnessing it.

You learn something everyday. I just learnt that I like my banana bread toasted a little bit better, so its crisper. And you think you have problems?

Learning experience, and improving it has been around since Mrs. Curly attempted to use the overhead projector by placing paper on it. Now its all we see; these Millennials, you’ve got to make yourself an avatar in Call-of-Duty and then shoot algebra into the walls before they’ll learn, or so the refrain normally goes.

Thing is, we often think of improvements to learning experience in terms of fancy new tech. No doubt that one day St Johns CofE year 4 will all have oculus rifts upon their tiny heads, ‘exploring’ Carthage in their Roman history lessons, yet the real shift in learning is about learning from within.

Learning from within comes in two forms. The individual strengths identified within someone, and the environment in which that person finds themselves. Now this ‘learning from within’ we can blame on the Millennials. They’ve moved away from the old meritocracy world, motivation through success and remuneration, and into the new world of motivation through meaning and purpose. We even wrote a whole white paper on what this means. Learning is now a continual journey, it’s constant moments of realisation as the individual defines meaning and purpose in their life. Learning is less a means to an end, more an end in itself. And isn’t that beautiful?

Google and Facebook have realised this. Their people development approach places people as the ultimate value asset in the company, and as such, development is tailored to the individual and owned by everyone. Whilst Google in their Google-to-Googler program, have a core-curriculm, which is delivered by their own employees (only 20% from their ‘people operations’ (HR) function), the rest of the courses range from Kickboxing to Parenting. Facebook engineers are thrown into work immediately, as Andrew Bosworth director of FB says, ‘The first email is ‘welcome to Facebook’, the next five are bugs you gotta fix.’ Not only does this get the new starter learning and working in FB immediately, brining a sense of worth, it also acts a diagnositic for the new guy to figure out what they enjoy, so he can choose his own path in the company.

When I ordered my banana bread, I had no idea on the crisp factor. I was just thinking about the sweet sweet melted butter and hadn’t considered the toasting process. More fool me. Connections happen every day, the challenge for any employer wanting develop it’s people, is to harness this learning.

We’ve been pushing this for some time at NKD, our living brands model underlines the value of the individual within any company, and as such we’ve developed models and tools that help drive this continual journey for the employee. Our new Performance Management approach, Thrive, empowers in the moment conversations, whilst defining goals based on the individual strengths a person brings, rather than the fact that we need a new IT integration and they haven’t got much on. Did ratings and KPIs ever work in the first place?

In the moment, everyday lessons, there will always be a place for a more formal learning environment, it’s reach and effectiveness comes from its amplification in the real world. Where was my mentor when I ordered that banana bread?