Tom Haak, Director, HR Trend Institute

Performance Management Interview with Tom Haak, Director, HR Trend Institute - GroSum TopTalk

Tom Haak is the director of the HR Trend Institute ( The HR (Human Resources) Trend Institute follows, detects and encourages trends in the people and organization domain and in related areas.

Tom has an extensive experience in HR Management in multinational companies. He worked in senior HR positions at Fugro, Arcadis, Aon, KPMG and Philips Electronics. Tom has a keen interest in innovative HR, HR tech and how organizations can benefit from trend shifts. He is also a regular keynote speaker at prominent HR conferences.

How important is Performance Management (P.M.) in today’s high-flux organization?

Performance management is very important. There are several objectives of performance management.


  • Development. Give people and teams feedback, that can be used to become better, for current and future roles.
  • Direction. Help people and teams to move in the required direction.
  • Recognition. Give people and teams recognition for their accomplishments and efforts.
  • Pay. Gather input that can be used to determine the right pay levels, for individuals and teams.

If done well, the performance management process should lead to an increased engagement and increased the productivity of the teams and the individuals being part of an organization. Too many organizations try to meet all four objectives in one process. Recently many organizations have made attempts to redesign their performance management process. What do we see today?

  • The frequency of feedback has gone up
  • Feedback apps, like Impraise and TruQu, are gaining traction
  • Using multiple raters (360) is becoming mainstream
  • A move away from ratings (but some early adapters are already moving back…)
  • A focus on “Good conversations”
  • A tendency to make the feedback more superficial (“Good job!”)
  • Still relying very much on humans to gather and give the feedback
  • Still very much an internal focus (“We have to organize this for our organization’)
  • Still a desire for a standardized organization-wide solution
The starting point for many organizations is still the organization. How can we make sure our organizational goals are reached? It is difficult to turn this around and design the processes with the requirements of the employees in the center. Most likely there is a lot of variety in the wishes of the employees, which makes it even more difficult to design processes that can meet the different needs. A real employee-centric organization can do this.
Especially for developmental purposes, feedback needs to be very specific. I think it is too ambitious to expect all team leaders to be able to give high-quality feedback. Maybe it is better to rely on people who have really developed this skill. These performance consultants can be very helpful, especially in helping top performers to become better.

Whose responsibility is Performance Management?

This is a joint responsibility of the organization (primarily managers) and the employees. HR can help to design the processes and provide access to performance consultants.

What are the key gaps in current industry practices in managing employees’ performance?

Many organizations are not employee centric. The focus on a top-down approach, where corporate goals are rolled out. Today it is very important to take the individual wishes, needs, and capabilities of employees into account. An individualistic approach is required, one size does not fit all. Employees want to be listed to. Often their experiences in private life are a lot better than at work. 
On the other hand, organizations can focus too much on individuals. Teams are the main building blocks of organizations, and HR practices as performance management should become more team focused. 

What roles can technology play to overcome key recruitment challenges being faced by the industry?

In recruitment, technology can play a very big role. Technology can help: 
– To determine what the key characteristics are of the top performers you are looking for
– To source candidates, using the profile, using artificial intelligence. Sourcing will be wider and less biased, resulting in a bigger pool of candidates
– To automate an speed up the recruitment process, with the help of applicant tracking systems and the use of chatbots
– By using technology, the recruitment process can be faster, more effective and result in a far better candidate experience.

What makes a really effective P.M. programme? Any best practices to share.

An effective program does not try to fit all the objectives of performance management in one process. An effective program automates workflows as much as possible and uses modern HR tech, also in performance management. Effective processes are employee-centric, and take the wishes, needs, and capabilities of employees into account. An effective program makes at least a good distinction between goal setting, and performance consulting (helping good people to become better). An effective program should be fun as well!

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