HR Management & Compliance

Implementing Design Thinking

In part 1 of this article, we explored what design thinking is and how it can be valuable. Here, we will explore how to implement design thinking at your workplace.

Source: Photon photo / shutterstock

Think About the Journey

Think about the three different touch points (processes, people, and technology) your employees come into contact with during performance reviews. How do they impact their experience?


  • Who benefits? Is it seen as a process that helps the company identify top and low performers or as a process that is meant to help individuals grow and develop?
  • How long does it take from the time they fill out their self-assessment until the time they receive their results?


  • Who gives and receives feedback?
  • Do managers receive upward feedback from reports?
  • Do people receive training on how to give actionable feedback?


  • What kinds of performance management tools do people use during the process?
  • Is the process straightforward and user-friendly?

View the Process through the Lens of Your Personas

Everyone will have different objectives, pains, and experiences with each touch point he or she encounters during the process. Think about the journey from each different point of view.

Customer personas are fictional characters used by marketers to represent different types of customers. They’re often given names and bios, including their likes, dislikes, pains, and objectives, based on data collected from customer feedback, interviews, and focus groups. The idea is that having a few fictional customers who represent larger interest groups allows you to optimize processes for a wider audience. For example:

Julie, the New Manager:

  • Wants to give her team members helpful feedback that will encourage them to improve
  • Is nervous about giving constructive feedback to a few team members who used to be peers
  • Expects to have a better idea of who her top performers are and where the team needs to improve at the end of the process
  • Also wants to gain insights into her performance as a team lead

Paul, the Millennial employee:

  • Expects to find out what his strengths are in the team
  • Has trouble analyzing the feedback he received and creating a strong development plan
  • Wants to receive more feedback outside of performance reviews

Anna, the New Tech Hire:

  • Wants to be recognized for her achievements
  • Expects a fair balanced assessment but encountered bias in the assessments she received at her previous company—does not trust the process
  • Wants to be able to receive feedback on cross-collaborative projects she participated in


When redesigning your performance management process, consider how you can optimize it to meet the needs of your different personas. The best way to gain a full picture is to combine these two tools by mapping out the different touch points your personas would encounter during your current process. Consider how each would be impacted differently.

The insights provided by this exercise will enable you to redesign performance management at your organization in a way that takes into account your wider workforce. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to performance management. Design thinking can help you create an experience that fits your unique organization.

Steffen Maier is the co-founder of Impraise, a people-enablement platform. Impraise’s belief is simple: Grow your people—grow your business. It helps unleash people’s potential, doing more than just performance reviews, which means accelerating performance, fostering career development, and seizing all the moments that happen in between.

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