Putting Kano Models to Work in HR

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about Kano Models and how what they mean.  (If you haven’t read it, or need a refresher, go ahead.  The rest of us will wait here…OK, welcome back!)  We had also worked to put together  a list of some of the key processes/duties of the HR department.  I offered a few suggestions as a starting point, and received some great additional material.  I’d like to use a few of these examples to talk about how to put together a Kano model in the HR world, and then talk a little about what to do with them.

From friend of the show Darren Bond, we have the list below:


  • Setting salary and bonus targets
  • Benchmarking competitive compensation structures
  • Managing corporate balanced scorecard
  • Paying performance bonuses

So let’s break these down into the three Kano categories.  These are my opinions based on experience, though your particular experience may be different:


Setting salary and bonus targets – Managers and employees rarely want a new and exciting way of getting this data, or new ways to look at your targets.  They generally want to see the targets so they have an anchor point for conversations and comparisons.
Benchmarking competitive compensation structures – Generally benchmarking is a snapshot, or multiple snapshots over time, based on criteria that are hopefully derived from your strategy.  Delivering the results of benchmarking is more about understanding how you compare to others, so you are by nature somewhat restrained in innovation.  If you get too innovative, after all, there may not be a benchmark.  A good problem to have, but it takes you in another direction.
Paying performance bonuses – Much like any payroll function, this is an area where execution is critical, but innovation is less sought after.


Managing corporate balanced scorecard – OK, “managing” a scorecard could be seen as a Basic function.  But I’m going to assume that part of management of the tool is changing or enhancing that tool as well.  Looking for new ways to measure how we perform, teasing out correlations and metrics in a transactional world, and relating those back to hard business results can uncover interesting and valuable data.  (Admittedly, it may not be exciting to everyone, but it is to me.)


Nothing on this list, I would say, falls into the Performance range.

So what does this mean?  How does this change your day?

Basic tasks should, in general, be developed until they reach the satisfaction stage, and then either a) left alone or b) centralized/automated/outsourced.  When you only have to be “good enough” there is no reason to spend more effort there.  So stop it.  (Note:  “Good enough” will vary on the task, naturally.  For payroll, “good enough” may be “error free.”  Don’t assume “good enough” is a half-hearted effort.)

Excitement and Performance tasks are where differences are made.  They should take up the biggest part of your attention.  The better you get at them, the more value they return to you and, more importantly, your customers.

So where are you spending your time?


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