It might seem silly to even suggest this. Human Resources is supposed to be the very definition of ethical behavior; creators of the fairness and equity policies, modelers of proper corporate standards. Yet when it comes to employee performance review, there is a lot of slanted truth. In my 30 plus years in business, I have found two significant ideas coming from today’s HR departments that are just troubling to me.
Idea #1 The Revised Employee Performance Review
The first idea got a lot of press. It is the premise that organizations can eliminate their annual employee evaluation process in favor of quarterly check-in sessions. The hope is to improve both the quality and quantity of manager/employee communication.
Lowe’s, the home improvement giant, calls their program, “Sync Up” and provides managers with a series of seven questions they are supposed to ask each employee quarterly (“What is going well?”, “Where are you getting stuck?”, “Last time we talk about…, “, “Do you have everything you need to do your job?”, “What are your career goals?”, “Where do you see yourself next year?”, and “What can I do to better support you?”). These questions, and the discussion that occurs when these questions are asked probably do work to improve communication and enable alignment. Heck, I even endorse these questions (see my prior article).
What Lowe’s does not address is the need for documentation that must be collected and available should there be any disputes that might lead to claims or charges. Are they still doing annual performance appraisal in addition to the quarterly check-ins?
The related premise, also making the news (Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft) is the elimination of scores or ranking in the employee performance review process. This practice may or may not be effective but has little impact on one key fact. All of us must collect data to justify our employment decisions like hiring, firing, promotion, corrective action, and compensation. No amount of creative quarterly check-ins can change that fact.
Less progressive HR professionals rally around a second idea that traditional, annual, employee appraisal systems work well “if only managers would take it more seriously.” The key, in their mind, is that we just need to provide more training for our management teams. Once they realize just how important this issue is, they will step-up and improve the time and attention they place on employee development.
Nonsense. Managers are smarter than most think they are. Bosses know, all too well, that today’s traditional, annual employee appraisal is a compliance process, not a coaching exercise. How do they know? Those in HR have taught them. After all, HR checks to make sure the process has been completed but rarely have the time to ensure the quality of the feedback.
Managers know that the process is not effective and that their personal return-on-invested-time for their effort is a simple case of “the juice not worth the squeeze!”
So the traditional process does not work and efforts to modernize the process don’t seem to be effective either. What are we to do?
Here’s The Fix
For the past three years, Roger Ferguson, of iSi Human Resources Consulting in Houston has been evangelizing an innovative idea he calls Big Five Performance Management.
- the employee’s five most significant contributions from the last month and
- their five highest priorities for the current month.
Nimble, concise communication is valued over lengthy narratives. Most employees can adequately respond to each item with only one or two sentences. Managers read the employee reports and then provide affirmation and praise. Managers can then coach to help improve the planned outcome. If needed, possibly corrective guidance can be shared if the team member is not aligned with departmental or organizational goals.
Twelve of these monthly reports put together provide a much better picture of the employee’s contribution for the entire year rather than the traditional employee performance review. Over a one year period, Big Five will provide the manager (and your labor attorneys) with 120 (10 a month for 12 months) rock-solid data points regarding the employee’s contributions. You get the built-in documentation needed.
How well does this process work?
In organizations that have installed Big Five so far:
- The frequency of coaching has increased 37.6%,
- 95% of employees say the amount of coaching they receive is “About right”,
- The quality of coaching (openness, honesty, directness) has improved 8.7%,
- Traction- the coaching actually helps to improve bottom line performance is up 9%,
- 6% of employees say Big Five takes less time, and
- Employee satisfaction with the process has improved 49.8%!
And the best news? Big Five totally replaces the need for the tired, ineffective, traditional, annual appraisal process!
Plus, Ferguson and his team have developed a cloud-based app to deliver Big Five in client companies of all sizes. Using mobile-friendly technology, the process is even easier to administer. Behind the scenes, the system keeps up with reporting and documentation for easy access as needed.
I don’t share solutions like this without direct, personal experience. I have known about Big Five long before it was a commercially successful (and award-winning) HR solution. Big Five is scalable. I once used it to manage a project that had a very short fuse.
Weekly status reporting was required. I adjusted the Big Five tools to accumulate weekly status reports and set priorities. The team worked exceedingly well, winning the client better than a 10x return on the money invested in my team. Big Five helped drive the high returns and smooth operation.
If you want to know more. visit Big Five Performance or click the button below.