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December 3, 2015

The Seasons of Performance Management

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In many regions of the country, folks are enjoying the changing of seasons. Cooler temperatures, colorful leaves (on trees or in piles on the ground), pumpkin carving, cider and donuts, early holiday music (if you’re into that), and other evidence of late autumn abound. At work, there are other markers of fall that may not be so relaxing and enjoyable, including budget planning, open enrollment and benefits review (for HR), and performance appraisals. There may not be much that can be done to make all of these things easier but at least when it comes to performance appraisals, it does not have to be a feared task at the end of the year. Just as regular maintenance to one’s yard, home, or automobile makes the change of seasons less troublesome, ongoing performance management can make the year- end appraisal both simple and more meaningful.

 

As performance management consultants and experts, we have been through every possible challenge associated with performance. Through decades of experience across many industries, we have learned how to coach managers to get the most out of their employees. Performance management should not be something that only occurs at year-end, as a means of planning salary/wage increases. We propose that managers and employees meet monthly or weekly to review performance informally. If such frequency is not practical in your organization, then at least consider checking on performance measurements with the change of seasons. This article provides some suggestions of some actions that can be conducted seasonally as part of a more comprehensive approach to performance management.

Performance Management in Winter

This is the season for most organizations to complete annual performance appraisals for employees. The most impactful thing that can be done during this period is for a manager and his/her employee to sit down for a discussion about performance. It is important that this discussion have a positive tone, which will help keep the employee engaged. Evaluation criteria should be applied consistently and objectively to all employees (ideally, employees with the same role/job should be evaluated on the same criteria). Such criteria should be defined and should have clear distinctions between performance levels, with specific behaviors, characteristics, and measurements in order to avoid bias. New goals should be developed with the employees’ buy-in and should be linked to organizational strategies for alignment.

Performance Management in Spring

As the ground thaws and flowers bloom, it is a good time to renew and revisit the goals that were established as the new year began. Re-calibration may be justified in light of changes to projects and priorities during the first quarter. Managers should meet with employees for a 30-minute discussion about goal progress and about action steps for focus during the coming weeks and months. Even more ideal than a quarterly meeting with the employee would be a monthly or bi-weekly check-in. This should be an informal conversation about goal progress and could focus on quick praise of the employee’s short-term successes.

Performance Management in Summer

As vacations are planned and kids get out of school, this is a good time evaluate budgets and annual initiatives. As should be done whenever the manager and employee meets, goals are reviewed and revised. There should be a plan for addressing PTO/vacation absences to ensure that goals are still

within focus. This is a great time to conduct stay interviews with employees to identify what they like about their jobs and what they need to be more engaged.

Performance Management in Autumn

This a the perfect season for infusing staff with a renewed focus, as normalcy at home is re-established with the kids back in school and eyes turning back to those goals that were aligned with strategies at the beginning of the year. Indeed, this is something that should have been occurring throughout the year. Yet, late third quarter and early fourth quarter are times when there is greater analysis of results in order to effectively plan for the upcoming fiscal year. Managers need to be careful not to give employees the impression that they are a secondary focus, behind that actual planning. As the fourth quarter progresses, plans should include ample time for meaningful discussions about the employees’ performance.

Seasonal performance management is more effective than only an annual appraisal. In fact, the most employee-centric organizations practice employee performance management as something that should occur monthly, weekly, and daily to keep employees engaged. Start where you are and let employees know what you appreciate about them.

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November 5, 2015

Reinventing Performance Management to Drive Business Performance

As the end of the year approaches, HR professionals begin to feel the year end crunch: benefit open enrollment, holiday party planning, and the dreaded performance review season.

Does this sound familiar? If it does, you are not alone. In a recent Gallup survey, more than 58 percent of HR executives said their current performance management system was weak in driving high performance; 58 percent also said their current evaluation process was not an effective use of time.

These are disturbing numbers. They beg the question, “How how can we improve and innovate on our current performance systems?”

Traditionally we have evaluated staff members based on output. But as the economy is shifting and more than 70 percent of all jobs are knowledge or service based, it is no longer enough to evaluate employees strictly by their output; we must also evaluate them on non-tangibles such as adaptability and innovation.

The impact of the Idiosyncratic Rater Effect
The challenge that managers face is, “How do we measure these skills without succumbing to the Idiosyncratic Rater Effect?” That’s the idea that a manager’s rating of an employee is a better reflection of his or her own idiosyncrasies than of the employee’s actual skill set.

This means that when a manager conducts the year-end performance appraisal, the rating actually says more about the rater than about the ratee! There have been several published studies in both Personnel Psychology and the Journal of Applied Psychology documenting this effect in employee performance evaluation.

Managers are disturbingly unreliable raters of other people’s performance, says Founder and Chairman Marcus Buckingham of the Marcus Buckingham Company, a leading performance management and employee engagement consulting firm. If we can’t trust this data to help make good business decisions such as who to promote, where to put training resources and how to compensate staff, what do we use?

A new type of evaluation that works
Consulting firm Bersin by Deloitte attempts to answer the question by posing a new form of evaluation that allows the rater to provide his or her opinion on the things that will matter most in making compensation and promotion decisions.

The system requires the manager not to rate the employee’s skill set, but instead answer questions about the manager’s own future action with respect to the employee. The questions summarize the manager’s intent to provide the highest possible compensation increase, the manager’s willingness to work with the employee on another team, the manager’s perception of the employee’s risk for low performance and the manager’s perception of the employee’s potential for promotion. This type of rating system requires the rater to think through the action he or she will take with an employee, rather than giving an unsupported numerical rating.

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July 24, 2014

Setting Expectations for Success

Have you ever tried to put a 500-piece puzzle together using only 386 pieces?  That is what it can feel like to an employee who has not be given straightforward expectations to accomplish their goals.  An important part of performance management is to set clear expectations for employees so there is no question as to how their work should get done.

When employees feel their goals and your expectations are undefined or ambiguous, they become frustrated, productivity declines, and you risk losing them.  To keep them committed to you as their manager and to the organization, you cannot leave anything to chance.  By including employees in the goal-setting process and then developing action plans with timelines, your expectations are clear and you are setting them up to succeed; the rest is up to them.

Learn more about HR Performance Solutions Performance Pro and manage your employees performance with ease.  Start your 30 day FREE trial today!

 

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March 28, 2014

Did You Know . . . Compease is Now in the Cloud?

HRN has released a new, completely updated, CLOUD-BASED version of our popular Compease salary administration application!  Compease, a unique and innovative compensation administration system provides customized, market-driven compensation and salary grade information for every position in an organization based on level of responsibility, job title, geographic location, company size, and industry.

Even more thrilling is, if you currently use Performance Pro and Compease the new sophisticated technology will integrate the two! This integration will reduce duplication, saves time, and makes updating reports easier than ever! Give us a call and speak with one of our experts to understand how Performance Pro and Compease integration can strengthen and support your business. You might be surprised at how seamless it is.

If you don’t currently enjoy Performance Pro and Compease, what are you waiting for?  Contact us now at (800) 897-3308 or comp@hrnonline.com.

 

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February 26, 2014

Reduce the Cost of Turnover with Effective Performance Appraisals

The cost of turnover can be crippling for most organizations.  In a study by Center for American Progress (CAP), it was found that when replacing a mid-level employee it costs about 20% of their salary.  With the cost of replacing employees being so high it behooves management to take actions to reduce turnover.  One of those ways is to have an effective performance appraisal.

Employees often fear their annual appraisal.  Why is that?  More frequently than not, an employee will only receive feedback during their annual appraisal.  This lack of communication can cause a breakdown between a manager and their employee.  It is important to provide feedback to employees throughout the year.  Maynard Webb, author of Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship says, “When it comes to retaining talent, one tactic I’ve often found crucial is implementing informal weekly and formal quarterly check-ins.”  He explains that by doing this you are able to avoid disconnects within an organization and between managers and employees. Feedback is critical when attempting to get employees to buy into an organization’s culture.

Performance appraisals can be used as the perfect conduit to facilitate ongoing feedback between a manager and an employee.  When managers continually check-in with employees they will have the opportunity to provide and ask for feedback.  Increased feedback will lead to increased employee “buy in” which leads to increased employee satisfaction and reduced turnover.

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February 11, 2014

Managing the Import Process in Performance Pro

Filed under: Performance Management,Performance Pro3:24 pm

Many of our clients utilize an HRIS or payroll system, but are not leveraging the benefit by using Performance Pro’s import feature.  The employee information can be easily updated by using our import service that is customized for your system based on your company needs.  Whether your comfort level isn’t there or you are experiencing a lack of time, the import feature is extremely beneficial.

For clients who appraise on an anniversary cycle or face constant change in their organization, importing represents an easier way to ensure their organization structure stays up-to-date.  It is important to develop a plan on how you use importing to ensure that changes are occurring when and how they should and data will remain secure.

HRN Performance Solutions offers a great service for those clients who need the import process, but have yet to embrace it. The import service allows you to send your basic data file to HRN, and we will do the rest. We will develop a customized plan with you that will fit your company needs to update your data and review all the considerations to ensure that your data is safe and secure. Call (800) 940-7522 today for your free quote and process evaluation.

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January 28, 2014

The Dentist, The Doctor and The Appraiser

How many of you look forward to your annual checkup with your doctor or your semi-annual visit with your dentist?   Some of you may, but a majority of us certainly don’t jump up and down when it comes time for these visits.

When I am visiting with my doctor and he says, “Megan, your cholesterol is high. If you continue to make the choices you are, your cholesterol may lead to heart disease or a stroke.”  I can stomp my foot and argue with him, or I can listen to his advice.

The same thing is true for the dentist. If my dentist tells me that I need to floss more or I will increase my chances for gum disease, I can listen to her advice or not.

Not many of us may like these visits or enjoy hearing this kind of feedback.  Why do we do it?  We go because that’s what responsible adults do to maintain our health.

The same thing is true for the appraisal process.  It may not be something we all get excited about but as responsible employees, we need to participate in this process in order to maintain the health of our organization.

And just like a doctor, it is the role of the appraiser to enter into the conversation with our employee with tact and a good bedside manner.  Doctors have to deliver bad news all the time. While there may be emotional outbursts from the patient, the doctor remains unemotional and unbiased.  They don’t judge and they use empathy to convey the factual information their patient needs to hear.  As appraisers, our role is to remain unemotional but relay information in a tactful manner to our employees about the behaviors that may be hazardous to their health or employment within the organization.

So, I have a dentist appointment and she tells me I need to floss more.  If I walk away from that appointment and don’t floss until 3 days leading up my next appointment – will it likely make any difference? Probably not.   The same thing is true for other things in our life. Not many of us enjoy budgeting, but we pay attention to our budget all year round to make sure we don’t get ourselves into trouble.  Even with things we enjoy, like learning a new musical instrument, we wouldn’t be very successful if we only practiced once a year.

Performance management works the same way. If we just pay attention to it once a year, during the appraisal process, we won’t be very successful.  Just like our health, it’s a daily discipline.  Forming relationships with our employees, meeting with them on a regular basis, paying attention, asking questions, and communicating – these are all things that should be happening often, not just when it comes time to do the appraisal.

As appraisers, we are the doctors. Our job is to keep our employees, our team, and our company healthy.  We do this by practicing performance management throughout the year. In addition, when we work with our employees, it is essential to rely on the facts, remove emotions, and have a good bedside manner.  Through these steps, we can improve the overall health of our employees and our organization.

 

 

 

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November 20, 2013

Performance Feedback and Rewards – What Works?

Filed under: Performance Pro10:53 am

How often should a manager discuss performance with their employees?  It is a good question, and the answer varies depending on who you ask.  The recent Pulse of Talent Survey, conducted by Harris/Decima for Ceridian, focused primarily on the generational differences and how they are affected by job rewards, job motivation, and performance feedback.  Interestingly, the survey indicated that 59% of those responding reported having a formal meeting with their boss in 2012 to discuss job performance, leaving more than 40% without any formal performance discussion.  Gen Y employees reported wanting more performance feedback throughout the year, which has moved to the top as a best practice.

Job rewards are a major engagement driver.  The survey found that 47% of those responding ranked job rewards above job recognition (42%) followed by job motivation (11%).  It was noted that generational differences and needs must be considered to achieve optimal results when rewarding employees affecting motivation, productivity, and organizational success.  Monetary and non-monetary rewards were both indicated as strong engagement tools.  Non-monetary rewards that are popular are:

  • Paid personal days off
  • Flexible hours/schedules
  • Work from home option
  • Free meals and event tickets
  • More training availability and options
  • Opportunities for more responsibility and advancement

An employer’s challenge is to make sure they are pairing the most effective driver of motivation and job satisfaction to the appropriate generation for the best results.  Employees are also encouraged to perform well if they feel their pay is fair, their work is interesting, and they have a variety of avenues for personal growth from which to choose.

Take an online tour of HRN’s Performance Pro to see how we can help manager/employee communication be regular and often!

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October 30, 2013

Performance Feedback – A Necessary Evil

Filed under: Performance Pro11:01 am

During one of my previous employment experiences, I encountered a group of managers, CEO included, that were unwilling to engage in the performance evaluation process because the company had placed a freeze on wage increases due to the economy’s frightening effect on the business.  Even though, there is a vast difference of opinion on increasing wages in conjunction with the performance appraisal process or not, one thing is certain:  the performance appraisal process cannot be set aside, because it is an essential part of your organization’s health.

Employees need and deserve to know three things:

  • 1) What are my employer’s expectations of me?  These are the job responsibilities and goals that are initially communicated to an applicant and new employee.
  • 2) Am I meeting those expectations?  This is a communication process to explain how well the employee is producing with the objective of meeting those job requirements.
  • 3) What’s next?  This clarifies to the employee what specific steps must be taken to meet the next performance level.

Each of these require performance feedback.  Dictionary.com defines feedback as “knowledge of the results of any behavior, considered as influencing or modifying further performance.”  Feedback isn’t always pleasant, but how a manager delivers it can determine how well the employee benefits from it.  Here are a few tips for how to deliver beneficial feedback:

  • Keep feedback job related, specific, and objective.  Avoid offering opinions or comments about the employee personally.  It’s all about behaviors and job performance, not the person.  Remember that comments can easily be misinterpreted; avoid careless comments by thinking them through before delivering.
  • Be aware of your facial expressions and body language.  It is estimated that 95% of all communication is nonverbal.  You may “say” one thing, but your facial expressions and body language may be “screaming” something else.
  • Avoid providing feedback when the employee is tired, stressed, or busy.  The same goes for the appraiser!
  • Provide your comments in a professional and courteous manner.  Respect your employee by providing a private setting to avoid interruption from others.
  • Set aside a regular time monthly for ongoing feedback and communication.  This reduces the employee’s dread of the annual performance meeting.  Remember the goal of providing performance feedback is to develop the employee and build on their future with your organization.  It emphasizes the impact their performance has on the organization and on their own success.

Remember, too, what you say, “can and will be held against you.”  Managers should have a basic knowledge of HR law and understand the ramifications of discrimination or even the appearance of it, when providing performance feedback.  It is a skill managers should work to acquire and refine.  Feedback is a very powerful tool when used properly to encourage an employee to be their very best and reach for the next level.

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July 29, 2013

“Take Me Out to the Ball Game!”

Filed under: Performance Management,Performance Pro1:22 pm

It’s opening night and you take three friends to a baseball game!  As you and your friends weave your way through the crowds to your front row seats on the third base line, your anticipation and excitement increases.

It is now the bottom of the 9th and bases are loaded.  The opposition is up to bat and your team is ahead by one point.  The pitcher sends through a perfect ball and the batter swings, connects, and sends the ball flying towards right field.  The right fielder starts running for the ball.  It’s going to be a close one!  At the last moment he flies up against the wall, reaches out, and catches the ball with the tip of his mitt! The crowd goes wild!  Your team has just won the game!

One of your friends turns to the group and says, “Man, that was the most amazing feat of athleticism I have ever seen in my life!”

Another friend says, “Well, yeah, that was pretty great, but it’s opening day; the crowd is full of energy – that catch was pure adrenaline.”

Your third friend says, “No, that was complete luck.  The sun was in his eyes. I bet he couldn’t do that again if his life depended on it.”

And you finally say, “Are you kidding, this is the Major League.  If he can’t repeat that play again he has no business playing ball.”

You have four people, all having witnessed the exact same situation and each person has an entirely different perspective on what happened.  Does this ever happen in the workforce?

The only way to get your friends on the same page is to define the criteria for success before you go to the game.  Before you even set foot in the stadium, you need to define what makes a good play.  What actions are going to constitute this player being the MVP verses someone who needs more practice?

That is what factors or competencies on an evaluation can do for performance within your organization. By clearly defining the core competencies or skills required for success, you are setting the bar for behaviors that equate to a Valued Performer verses someone who Needs Improvement.  By agreeing to these expectations before the situation occurs, you are able set the standard for excellence verses unacceptable behaviors, before you get to the game.

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