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How 95 minutes will change the way you manage for the better

No matter what field you’re in or what motivates you, there is a TED Talk out there that will speak to you. The amount of valuable information and insight you get in the span of 20 minutes is incredible, and the range of topics is fantastically diverse.

If you’re looking to learn more about performance management, or if you’re interested in the latest performance management trends, TED Talks can provide you with a wealth of new ideas. Below, I’ve put together a list of six must-watch performance management TED Talks that will up your management game and change the way you lead your teams forever. The list is in no particular order, and each one offers a unique insight into management and leadership.

1. Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe by Simon Sinek

Runtime: 12 minutes

The first talk I am going to cover is Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe, a talk by Simon Sinek.

Employee engagement and employee motivation are always hot topics in the HR world, and it all begins with management. As we know, managers play a key role in determining whether or not an employee will be engaged, and Sinek explores why certain leaders are trusted and respected, while others are seemingly universally disliked.

In his TED Talk, Sinek asks what makes employees accept and follow certain managers, and comes to two important conclusions:

  1. Developing the right environment (company culture) is critical to inspiring greatness.
  2. Leading an effective team is like parenting a family.

Sinek warns leaders against creating a company culture based on fear. Employees shouldn’t have to constantly worry that their job is on the line — this generates complete distrust and causes self-confidence to plummet. Instead, Sinek says that you should provide your employees with the training they need (in the form of onboarding and with performance management tools such as personal development programmes), as well as opportunity and autonomy. Employees need to be given the freedom to try and, possibly, to fail. This is the only way they will grow into excellent performers.

Sinek argues that when employees feel protected by their leaders, their natural reaction is to trust and to cooperate, which ultimately improves performance. He adds that “Great leaders would never sacrifice people to save the numbers, they would sooner sacrifice the numbers to save the people”.

2. What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work by Dan Ariely

Runtime: 20 minutes

In What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work, Dan Ariely covers a topic key to great performance management — employee motivation. In this TED Talk, Ariely discusses the fact that even today, managers tend to have an overly simplistic view of why people work. Rather than work being all about money, Ariely reveals a number of key motivators (meaning, creation, challenge, ownership, identity and pride) that keep employees coming back to their desks every single morning.

Ariely also focuses on the importance of employee recognition. This is an area we are passionate about at Clear Review, and in a previous post, we have covered how performance management software can be used to recognise employee accomplishments.

3. The Puzzle of Motivation by Dan Pink

Runtime: 19 minutes

The Puzzle of Motivation, a TED Talk by Dan Pink, discusses the ‘Carrot and Stick’ approach to motivation and explains why this approach is altogether too basic. Importantly, Pink covers the relationship between pay and performance and discusses that with increased compensation doesn’t always come improved productivity.

Rather than focusing on money, Pink argues that we need to explore intrinsic motivation. To achieve our SMART objectives and excel in our jobs, Pink says we need:

  1. Autonomy — Employees need to be given the freedom to achieve their objectives in their own way.
  2. Mastery — Which is improved by regular one to one performance check-ins and feedback sessions. This helps to improve competency, confidence and skills.
  3. Purpose — This element can only be created when employees are granted genuine transparency into the business, its direction and business objectives. Employees need to feel like they are an important part of a well-functioning, cohesive team.

4. The Happy Secret to Better Work by Shawn Achor

Runtime: 12 minutes

If morale is an issue in your organisation, The Happy Secret to Better Work by Shawn Achor is certainly worth a watch. Happiness is at the core of his message, stating that our brains at happy are 31% more productive than our brains at negative, neutral or stressed. He also discusses the ‘happiness advantage’, explaining how when we are happy, our intelligence rises, as does our creativity and energy. On top of this, we experience less burnout and companies with happy employees benefit from less voluntary turnover. So if you want to turn your company around, you should really tailor your performance management system to address and improve employee morale.

5. How To Live Before You Die by Steve Jobs

Runtime: 15 minutes

In Steve Jobs’ famous TED Talk, How To Live Before You Die, Jobs recounts his university experience and gives us some critical performance management insights. Jobs discusses the fact that he dropped out of college, but then ‘dropped back in’, taking only classes that excited and interested him. By following his passions, Jobs learned about calligraphy and went on to found Apple, a computing system renowned for its beautiful typeface.

Employee development and creativity are important in terms of performance, and it is impossible to say what lessons will be useful in the future. It’s essential that we give employees the freedom to challenge themselves and learn about different areas, rather than forcing them to have an unwavering focus on business objectives. Remember, the only way for your employees to be truly engaged and content is for them to love what they do and to put their strengths to use.

6. Why Work Doesn’t Happen At Work by Jason Fried

Runtime: 17 minutes

Why Work Doesn’t Happen At Work by Jason Fried is a great TED Talk for forward-thinking business leaders. Fried covers the fact that, in many ways, the office environment isn’t the best place to get work done. We’re subject to distractions (in the form of meetings and managers), and many employees are getting a decent amount of work done at home, in transit or before or after traditional office hours. This talk challenges the traditional (and outdated) view that all work should be done in an office and addresses the unreasonable (but commonly held) assumption that employees won’t do work if they aren’t being supervised. This is a key talk for any business that is looking to transition into flexible working. It will leave you feeling excited about your company’s future.

Total watch time for all TED Talks: 95 minutes

Clear Review has helped companies, large and small, improve performance and engage staff. To find out how our performance management software can catapult your business to greater heights, get in touch with us today on +44 (0)20 3637 4489.