A Holistic approach to Human Performance Management


One of the responsibilities of leadership is inspiring people to be their best. The challenges that are often faced by leaders can make or break an organization. We would like to introduce a human performance management system for leaders to garner optimal performance from their people according to their individual skillsets and to keep the momentum going.

The 8 Elements Model is a mélange of ‘East + West’ methodology in human performance. This concept was developed by Prim Kumar while studying the works of Gaery Rumler and Thomas Gilbert. During this time, he met an elderly man in Beijing who shared with him the origin of Feng Shui.

The notion of Feng Shui originated from the farmers in China. The farmers discovered the key to good harvest is considering the many factors within their environment. Factors such as fields that are protected by mountains, which are aligned with the right flow of water to prevent flooding, as well as timing the harvest to get adequate/sufficient sunlight . All in all, a good harvest is the product of aligning the plantation to certain natural aspects.

The important lesson that Prim took from this story is the parallel between the rice field and the organization.

The 8 Elements Model borrows the theory of ‘Feng Shui’ in an organization.

The leaders’ role is to harvest the organization. Performance is the harvest we get in the office. Just as the farmers had to consider the elements to achieve maximum harvest, we as leaders can achieve optimum performance from our people through aligning the 8 elements of Human Performance.

The 8 elements model covers:


  • Element of Fire – Self Drive.

Every activity begins with an inner drive. It is “the fire within” that stirs your desire to pursue a goal or satisfy a need. This drive can either be psychological or emotional and can be motivated.

Leaders are required to help their team to identify and motivate their drive.

This fire can be ignited by many different factors such as fiscal, physiological, spiritual, and sociological or a religious motivation. More often than not, it is a noble motivation.


  • Element of Wind – Expectations

Expectations is like the element of wind. It can either extinguish or feed fire, causing it to blaze and flare into a huge flame.

Leaders should create a positive environment to help push their people forward. Leaders can either be a “good wind” by supporting the fire or a “bad wind” by blowing the fire out.
Be clear about your expectations, so your team knows what they need to do or how they should perform to turn their drive into action.


  • Element of Moon – Measurements

The moon is measured by its phases: quarter moon, half moon, full moon and so on. Measurements will help keep track of the expectations progress.

Leaders are to set up goals according to the timeframe; long term, mid term, short term and immediate goals. Leaders should also understand how to set goals and targets based on individual’s skillsets to move them up the staircase of success.

More than often, there are goals that are difficult for people to meet. This discourages them immediately. As a leader, how can we scale this out?


  • Element of Earth – Resources.

Once the measurements are set, the next important element is having the resources to carry out the tasks. These resources come in various forms such as manpower, money, information, time, machine and so forth.

Leaders are to reflect if they have set clear goals with necessary resources.


  • Element of Thunder – Feedback

The shaking force like a thunder, loud enough to shake them up.

Communication is the lifeline to keep track of your team’s progress.  Having a healthy communication system through regular feedback would enhance the performance of your team. A leader should encourage both positive and negative feedback.


  • Element of Metal – Rewards & Recognition

Keep your team happy by giving them recognition for their efforts. Reward when necessary, compensate when necessary.

Types of rewards are fiscal, physiological, social, spiritual and psychological. For the reward to be effective in motivating your team, it should have 3 features; an element of surprise, immediate, and of value to the receiver.

Even as we recognize and reward good performance, there should also be an element of de-merit for non-performers.


  • Element of Mountain – Power & Influence

A man yells in a valley; only a handful of people are able to hear him but when he yells on a mountain; he is heard by many.

Leaders are to encourage seniors or top leaders to participate giving support, reward and feedback to the team. This will make their reward even more significant. Learn how to positively use the people of the mountain (big bosses), their power and influence to increase team’s performance.


  • Element of Water – Learning

Just like water that is an infinite flow, our learning journey is constant.

Leaders are to enable their team to reflect on their learning experience.  It is necessary to guide them to discover the right knowledge, skills and beliefs for self and organizational growth.

When all 8 elements are implemented in the team’s performance management, it will bring a credible 100% high performance. Combining only one or two elements together will result in lower percentage of performance.

There is a need for us to start thinking of ways to balance and align the 8 elements in our organization to achieve optimum performance. To help the process, we have created a specialized toolkit to use with your team members/employees to analyze and guide the planning of this holistic performance system.

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