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I can’t tell you the number of times in any given week that the words “over engineered” come out of my mouth. It is a huge pet peeve of mine and I completely own my fervor. So let this be my rant entry…

When it comes to all things people related in organizations…talent development, performance reviews, succession planning, training, high potential programs, inclusion, etc…most companies make the fatal error of making it way more complicated than it needs to be. And here’s my theory about why that happens. There are volumes and courses and certification programs galore that teach how to design, implement, refine and re-engineer technical processes that are the guts of a business. Fantastic. But it is these same methods and tools that are used for human processes. Not fantastic. Where technical processes require multiple steps, check points, check lists, quality controls and documentation human beings require something quite different to run properly. Human beings need human interactions.

The more you design a human process with multiple steps and paperwork the more likely you are to be beating people up to complete and comply. And that is no fun for anyone. And it guarantees that the activity will lose it’s value. People grow or correct their behavior or change or improve when they have received meaningful feedback and a safe discussion with a manager who wants them to succeed. They don’t grow because they completed a self assessment or the 10 steps for designing their perfect goals for the year.

We need to strip down all people processes so that the focus of the activity is a productive dialogue. Any documentation needs to be very simple and if there are more than 3 steps to a process it is too much.

Conversations…not check lists. Which leaves the challenge of helping people learn how to have good talks. That’s a much better set of tools to develop.

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