#Working4HRM- Performance management (2) : the mutual understanding

Zeno Filippi| HRM Amnesty International| november 2016 

In a psychiatric ward, during a guided tour, a visitor asks the Chief:

“How do you know if a patient needs to be hospitalised?”

“It is very easy- the Chief answers – we fill up a bath tub with water, then we give the patient a teaspoon, a cup and a bucket and we ask him/her to empty the bath tub…”

“Ah ok I get it- the visitor interrupts- a normal person would obviously use the bucket, as it is bigger than the cup and teaspoon”

“Maybe- the Chief answers- wouldn’t be more appropriate to remove the stopper?  What do you think about a cosy bed, near the window, on the second to the last floor, with a wonderful view?”

In my previous post “Performance Management:Working with and evaluating Human Resources in the NGOs” , we had the chance to have a bit of fun on the importance of the relation between parties in the feedback interview. The question now is: how to make this relationship functional to the return objectives? The care of the relationships can be rooted to 5 different basic aspects: mutual understanding, intersubjective legitimisation, collusion and collision, focus on the task, content and listening.

The final review meeting, allows to decrease – according to the classical model of the Johari Windowthe “blind” area of the interlocutor, that is to say, the problem areas of concern of the interviwee, is spotted by the interviewer, but unknown to the person in question. Maybe, each of us have experienced that, by receiving a feedback about our “blind” area from a stranger- who has never opened up or known us –  this position poses as a form of an intrusion and a threat, this affects the acceptance of the correction pointed out, particular if it is sensitive and critical.

The interaction between the communicators, is in fact, more effective if each of them have shared series of information on theirselves with each other: on identity, role, intentions and expectations. The interactive situation is facilitated if such “perviousness” happens before the final review meeting or it can be useful that the first part of the time is dedicated to the instauration of a minimum mutual understanding and availability. This is a necessary condition, even if not sufficient, for the instauration of trust, that is to say, of a relationship that results reassuring when the subject receives the assessment of their own image and stimulating if unexpected, surprising or critical elements arise.

One aspect that is not secondary to the mutual understanding is to verify that both parties of the relationship, have a sufficient “intrinsic” motivation to carry out the analysed interview. In fact, if motivation is lacking –for example if one of the two interlocutors is there “because they have to” or comply because of received prescription- it would not be very realistic to carry out a well-done interview: maybe they would end up in an interview or an interaction which is inadequate to the achievement of the objectives of a final review meeting.

Our non profit organisations, have always had, for vocation or necessity, an organisational culture very close to people, to their stories and needs; for this reason, the relational competences are necessary for survival. We must continue to get to know people, but without forgetting to make those relationships functional to the aim, in that way we could also find someone willing to help us to empty the bath tub…


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