Research - 14.06.2024 - 10:50 

«Freedom-to-Flourish Manifesto»: A paradigm shift in performance management to promote a successful and fulfilling life at work

The question of the meaning of work and its contribution to society is becoming increasingly important. In view of the major role that work plays in our lives and the importance of creative collaboration within the company to overcome social challenges, it is time to rethink structural personnel management.

Performance management is also coming into focus, as this central process remains highly controversial. With the "Freedom-to-Flourish Manifesto", the authors present a new approach that meets both the needs of employees and social developments.

Performance management is at a crossroads and is struggling with its own weaknesses. Conventional compensation methods are still widely used, despite convincing evidence of their ineffectiveness. Pay-for-performance strategies can undermine employees' intrinsic motivation and diminish their actual performance, while imposing hidden costs on the organisation (see Roberts 2010, Kuvaas et al. 2017). Furthermore, forced performance comparisons and excessive pay differentials often perpetuate internal competitiveness, unethical practices and inequality (Park et al 2022). It is also known that employees often find performance reviews uninspiring and feedback unhelpful, while perceiving the entire process as fundamentally unfair. Recent surveys (see Zanini 2024, Ulrich 2024) confirm this. Over 90% of the organisations surveyed are dissatisfied with their current appraisal systems. Only 14% of employees strongly agree that performance reviews motivate them to improve. However, HR itself also questions the effectiveness of its methods and measures. For example, only 8% of HR managers believe that performance reviews contribute to business success and 98% of HR managers believe that annual appraisals are useless. New approaches are therefore urgently needed that adequately take into account the needs of employees and social developments.

HR has a duty  

In view of these challenges, HSG Professor Antoinette Weibel, director of the Research Institute for Work and Working Environments (FAA-HSG), has initiated the "Freedom-to-Flourish Manifesto" together with Otti Vogt, co-founder of the Good Leadership Society. The initiative aims to reshape the future of work. Together with other experts from practice and science, they have created a framework that supports HR managers in redesigning their organisations in such a way that they create more meaning, performance and social value. The manifesto was presented for the first time at the HR Congress World Summit 2024 in Porto, where it was very well received. "We are convinced that HR should take the lead in transforming organisations so that they allow their employees more freedom to develop in the future. It must be a priority to correct power imbalances in organisations and ensure that every voice is valued and that everyone has the fundamental freedom to thrive in the workplace," says Weibel. One of HR's leading roles in holistic corporate transformation is to initiate and moderate dialogue within the organisation. 

The manifesto  

The "Freedom-to-Flourish Manifesto" stands for a revolutionary change in performance management. At its core, it is about not viewing people as interchangeable resources. Instead, companies and employees should work together to achieve excellence by taking the following principles into account: 

  1. Freedom and development instead of control and service by the book: A fulfilling life for all stakeholders takes centre stage. The aim is to promote individual freedom and enable the realisation of potential.
  2. Purpose and social contribution instead of budget haggling: Performance is measured by the purpose of an activity. Profits are important, but not the be-all and end-all. It is about making a contribution to society.
  3. System change instead of individual performance appraisals: Performance should be driven by the active development of people, values and organisational design, rather than focusing solely on individual tasks.
  4. Growing together instead of focusing on ranking lists and bonuses: Performance is a shared product. Collaboration and joint creativity take centre stage.  

On this basis, the authors have developed 11 concrete principles for practical application. The "Freedom-to-Flourish Manifesto" is an inspiring vision for performance management that focuses on strengths, purpose, freedom and community.

Partner wanted for practical test

The initiators of the manifesto are interested in finding suitable partners to test their principles and develop them further. Organisations that would like to take on a pioneering role and actively participate in the further development of the concept are welcome to contact Antoinette Weibel directly.

You can find a PDF file of the manifesto here.

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