TAD framework (or performance management is stupid)

Hey Al. Thrilled to see you hosting an AMA on People Geek Answers!! I remember when I first met you back in 2013 you blew my mind with an article you wrote titled “Performance Management is Stupid” in which you looked at some of the issues around Performance Management and proposed an alternate method that focussed on individual development for organisational performance. Do you still use the framework you developed? I think from memory it was the Talent Assessment & Development (TAD) framework.

Didier! You’re playing my heart strings. Thanks for the question, and thanks, too, for even remembering it. Yes, I’m happy to say the Talent Assessment & Development (TAD) Framework is still in play and, if anything, it’s starting to gain validation, albeit as a “meta-framework” that brings together disparate processes (at least what are currently disparate processes). Please let me explain, and I’ll be brief.

The Performance Management is Stupid article was inspired by the fact (yes, fact!) that performance appraisals/reviews had proven, from 2004 CEB study, to disengage the person being reviewed as well as the reviewer him or her-self. Fast forward, Dr. David Rock’s research has shown that these interactions create a fight, freeze, or flight response among those being reviewed. Sprinkly in idiosynchratic rater-effect, which essentially suggest the ratings (the data) coming out of these speak more to the situational attributes of the reviewer over the individual being reviewed. Add further the “normal” distributions that supervisors often use (by mandate), what results are situations where people used to getting A grades are now, all of a sudden because their in a commercial enterprise, are getting C’s. How’s that fair, especially when such a score will affect his/her compensation? Despite all this well-known insight, related stories, and personal experiences, most organizations still employ “performance management” processes – based on a long history and legacy mindset – that are clearly broken: they disengage people, often perpetuate the misallocation of funds, often inaccurately identify and weight contribution, and often inaccurately or just flat out miss an individual’s potential future contribution. The TAD Framework accepts this reality and does what it can to humanize the process of measuring contribution, potential, etc.

To go through quickly, the 10 dimensions of the Talent Assessment & Development (TAD) Framework are:

  1. Skills
  2. Behaviors
  3. Experience
  4. Education/Knowledge (Education is formal (e.g., degrees); Knowledge is informal)
  5. Contributions/Accomplishments
  6. Activities (how has someone spent his/her time in the past and/or how “should” someone be spending time moving forward)
  7. Relationships (what relationships are in place and/or what relationships need to be nurtured)
  8. Intentions/Purpose/Passion (what an individual plans to do or wants to do)
  9. Compensation (what an individuals wants or need to make; also what an organization is willing to pay)
  10. Benefits & Well-being (the life-enhancing benefits an individual wants or needs; also, what an organization can offer in this regard)

What’s exciting about this is that this framework is based are real conversations. In other words, it already exists. It does not, however, exist as a conscious model within individuals, people leaders, or organizations. This is too bad as its absence creates inefficiencies and, sometimes, misfits and all the resulting downstream consequences. The way it can be used for good, and the way the world is moving thankfully, is to a place where this frameworks (or variants thereof) are used to

  1. Write job descriptions
  2. Assess and develop talent
  3. Recruit and select talent
  4. Develop oneself

Right now, in most every organization, these are four distinct process, yet the connectivity among them is unquestionable and, in fact, necessary. This is proven when looking at the data emanating from these processes. They often don’t connect. The language is different. The process is different. The supporting technologies are different. The underlying data is different. Now, can/should they all be the same? No, of course not. They should, however, at least tell a confidence-inspiring story over time. When this is done, then organizations will benefit, leaders will benefit and, as important as anything, individuals will benefit. After all, they’re the ones generating the data. In my view, we have an ethical responsibility to deliver value back to them as well as the enterprise. Data quality and appropriateness will be compromised if we don’t.

Finally, going back to where we started, “performance management” does not bread authentic, positive experiences or good data. The TAD Framework, and the supporting process that focus on development and contribution, does bread authentic, positive experiences and good data. Damn it, Didier! Look at what you made me do. A simple question and I had to go out and find a soapbox! Hope this helps you and others in some way; and to the continuous strive to make great things happen!


Does the TAD framework exist anywhere people can reference it other than this post? Lots of interesting stuff in there :slight_smile: