A quick look at Herzberg's two factor theory of satisfiers and dissatisfiers will show you that much of HR's role is about removing workplace dissatisfaction, or what I call in musical terms "The HR Blues". This neatly explains why it’s rare for people to be enthused about HR's service offering, since much of HR's transactional activity is about administration and pay, rather than things that produce long term commitment and high performance.  I've been exploring what I call "The HR Blues" via a number of coaching sessions with HR and business people of late. The intention is to identify just what HR can do to (a) remove dissatisfiers from the workplace and (b) create genuine satisfaction at work with the high performance that comes with this. Here's a couple of "mythical HR blues song titles" with a brief exploration of the underlying issues.

Can't Get No … Engagement – In conversation with a major financial institution recently, it turns out that they are struggling with employee engagement.  At the same time, they have designed mostly top down strategies to encourage employee engagement. Engagement comes from a willing and often voluntary additional effort from the individual, often based on something personal that individuals bring to the job or the team. Too much orchestration of employee effort can therefore be counter productive. If you want more engagement, why not try giving a little bit more psychological space in the work for people to bring more of themselves to work …

I wanna be adored ….  in my appraisals – I asked a group of 100 CIPD people "Who enjoyed their appraisals?" Hardly any hands went up.  Then I asked "So, why would you expect anyone else to like them?"  Silence ensued.  That said, I have always enjoyed my appraisals, regardless of how well they went, but it seems that I'm the exception.  I also worked for a great company, The Wellcome Foundation, who understood that appraisals are (a) 80% forward facing (b) Not a place to store up various grievances (c) rather more about the conversation than the paperwork (d) not linked to a pathetic morsel of incremental pay.  This gives us some clues to a more successful design of an appraisal scheme:

* Make sure your appraisals are 80% future focused 

* Don't confuse appraisal with day to day management of people

* Keep the admin to a bare minimum

* Don't link pay to performance unless there is genuine opportunity to exchange effort for reward

Moreover, what get measured gets done.  The corollary of this is that what is hard to measure may get ignored.  Everyone needs objectives to keep focus, but I would rather have open heart surgery without an anaesthetic than have 7 pages of specific objectives, critical success factors and key deliverables as I have seen on some occasions.  Appraisals and objectives are all about focus, not shopping lists that rival the length of 'War and Peace'.

For more thoughts on this please get in touch for a FREE copy of "Punk Rock People Management – A no-nonsense guide to hiring, inspiring and firing staff" via the ACADEMY OF ROCK WEBSITE.