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ATD Blog

If You Want More Innovation, You Need a New Performance Management Process

Thursday, June 6, 2019

According to KPMG’s 2018 Canadian CEO Outlook Report, 26 percent of Canadian companies are behind in soft skills training, development, and recruitment compared to 48 percent of global companies. To address these numbers, future skills readiness and application agility need a new organizational framework in which creativity is both free-flowing yet systemic. The solution lies in the flow of the reconstruction of work-design for employees, with the recognition and measurement of competencies for creativity and innovation to thrive fluidly. Ideas and curiosity will fuel the new approach to work.

For a successful implementation of this new framework to occur , organizations need to rethink how they measure performance skills and management in the workplace. Many will need to deconstruct their traditional approach. While standard measurements focus on predictive performance goals, targets, and pre-established competencies, innovative companies and leaders reconceptualize their methodology.

Redefining the Role of HR and Talent Development

Many businesses and organizations lack the creativity and innovation skills needed for sustainable organizational growth and innovation. Talent development and HR are positioned to direct and influence leaders and strategies that will help employees grow these skills. KPMG suggests the emergence of five new and distinct functions:

1. futurist
2. shifter
3. shaper
4. modeler
5. transformer.

The futurist, for example, will adopt a forecaster approach to diagnose and reverse-engineer talent management strategies. The shifter’s function and perspective, meanwhile, will be to lead the organizational culture on soft skills such as empathy, resilience, and agility.

To facilitate these new HR functions, cross-functional business skills training and cognitive intelligence synthesis agility, among others, will need to be integrated and adopted. This will call for more alignment and sets the stage for a new integrated performance measurement and management strategy for soft skills competency learning and application.


From recruitment to the redesigning of leadership development programs, addressing the growing soft skills training gap in Canada will require a new mindset for embracing organizational creativity.

Enter Organizational Mindset Agility

For 2019, LinkedIn research has named creativity as the top skill most needed in the workplace. This competency eludes many as it is rarely formally recognized nor rewarded as a measurable achievement in the performance reviews of most employees.

At the root of this problem is the core mindset of an organization. In the book Unlocking Creativity, university professor Michael Roberto identifies six mindsets that are barriers to creative thought and action in the workplace, including:


· linear mindset
· benchmarking mindset
· prediction mindset
· structural mindset
· focus mindset
· naysayer mindset.

This information is significant as 77 percent of CEOs are struggling to find the creativity and innovation skills they need in their organization, according to the 2017 PWC CEO Global Talent survey.

What is missing is the celebration of the messiness and unpredictability of applied creativity due to the risk-averse nature of leadership and organizational culture mindsets and behaviors. Consequently, creative problem solving and decision-making judgements for innovative solutions are limited.

Indeed, curiosity is one of the first competencies for applied creativity and personal leadership. Senior leaders can work with their HR and training partners to reimagine and design the full cycle of talent management and development.

To accelerate skill learning at work and plan an effective future leadership development program, consider initiatives that encourage intrapreneurship for autonomy and ownership of results. For skill variety, consider strategic cross-industry corporate partnerships. Ideas are the new currency for 21st century learning, performance, and innovation. The deconstruction of the traditional performance management process will facilitate spontaneous creative learning and problem-solving actions that are relevant to the business and fulfilling to the employee.

About the Author

Samantha Mullings is corporate strategist and consultant for
The Sequel Training Group.

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