Reimagining the HR Playbook: ‘Make Work Better’ Proposes a New Approach to Performance

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Organizations that insist on following traditional performance management practices might go the way of Borders Books, which lost business to Amazon. Borders declared bankruptcy in 2011 after failing to respond quickly to the changes in Internet shopping.

Expectations around the fundamental nature of work are being challenged due to a rapidly changing environment — and human resources practices must keep up.

“Make Work Better,” a new book co-authored by Betterworks CEO Doug Dennerline and Vice President of HR Transformation Jamie Aitken, explains why and how HR practices continue to fail when it comes to performance management and the prescription for success. It serves as a playbook for enabling higher performance with happier and more productive employees that yields better business outcomes.

Betterworks is a leader in modern enterprise performance management solutions.

Dennerline has been working in Silicon Valley since 1982. After starting his career at HP selling the first PC, he spent 12 years at 3Com and 12 years at Cisco, massively scaling both companies. He eventually became the CEO of Webex by Cisco and has been running SaaS companies ever since, including SuccessFactors, where he served as president. SuccessFactors was ultimately acquired by SAP.

As VP of HR transformation at Betterworks, Aitken helps organizations reimagine the way employee performance is managed. She has more than 25 years of HR experience, spearheading organizational development, HR transformation and employee engagement strategies that boost business performance.

“Jamie and I are thrilled to finally share the culmination of our own career lessons,” Dennerline said. “I’ve been lucky to oversee large teams who use HR software to support performance management, as well as lead two companies that develop performance management software. Jamie, a 25-year practitioner of talent management, also has many years of helping companies of all sizes transform their performance processes to meet the needs of today’s workforce.”

Although the balance of power has seemingly shifted back to employers as the economy slows down, we continue to see an epidemic of disengagement among employees. The expectations of work are being challenged by employees, and when employers do not pay attention, they witness a workforce that is overworked and stressed — resulting in disengagement and resignations.

“We hope this book inspires, informs and empowers HR leaders and CEOs to lead the transformation necessary that will make work better for everyone,” Aitken said. “There is no time like today to lean into the possibilities of change when it comes to performance management.”

“Make Work Better” explains how to empower employees and raise their level of happiness so they can accomplish more and achieve better results. The book shows business, HR leaders and middle managers the modern path to better employee performance, amplified engagement and culture and more empowered people.

Some of the advice includes:

  • Make goals and objectives and key results more useful, more often for everyone.
  • Eliminate ratings and implement a promotion process that reflects reality and retains employees.
  • Make recognition count and create formal development paths for high performers.
  • Use data to make the right people decisions and eliminate bias.
  • Structure your organization to maximize the impact of HR and people operations.

The book’s introduction was written by Josh Bersin, founder and CEO of the Josh Bersin Academy and The Josh Bersin Company. He also is the author of “Irresistible: The Seven Secrets of the World’s Most Enduring, Employee-Focused Organizations.”

The book also features front-line insights from adopters of the process at Intuit, Pepsico and other leading organizations.

Both Aitken and Dennerline agree that when HR professionals and CEOs work together, they have a unique opportunity to fundamentally shift how work is done.