Thursday, June 30, 2011

GenY and the Performance Review

Today I am pleased to have Kyle Lagunas from Software Advice as our guest blogger. Thanks Kyle for contributing to our blog!

The workforce is changing. Just as a company would adjust its business model to a changing market, organiz

ations must rise to meet the needs of the new kids on the block: Generation Y. One of the biggest questions posed to HR professionals has been, “Can Gen Y handle performance reviews without the sugar coating?” The answer is yes.

Some analysts have dubbed us “trophy kids,” and believe we grew up being rewarded for our endeavors regardless of scale or success. Many believe we cannot handle life in a less-than-adoring work environment. Contrary to popular belief, though, we don’t need our hands held or our egos stroked daily. It’s important for leaders and managers to understand things from our perspective, so they can get the most out of our performance reviews.

Here’s how we see it:

1. We don’t get it. You say performance reviews are important, but they are executed so poorly. Dust off your thinking caps, modernize your reviews, and capitalize on your most valuable asset (your people).

2. Lose the sugar coating. You weren’t the only ones suffering through the recession. Our idealism, though strong, has been tempered. If our performance can improve, give us strong, actionable feedback with measurable goals.

3. Connect with us. Regular feedback doesn’t have to be complicated. If you don’t have an instant messaging client in your office, get one. They’re a great tool for maintaining informal lines of communication (which we love).

4. Positive reinforcement isn’t a bad thing. Whoever demonized trophies should think again. Rewarding good performance can be as simple as an “Atta boy!” or “You go girl!” sent via email--and they go a long way in giving Gen Yers a sense of accomplishment.

To read this article in its entirety, check it out the Software Advice’s blog:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

5 Things to Make Your Performance Appraisals Rock!

Now more than ever performance metrics are becoming more and more visible. As companies demand high performance from their talent, performance metrics are critically important in determining who is performing and who is not. The recession has forced managers to get every ounce of efficiency from their staff as budgets were tightened and slashed.

Pre-recession we viewed performance management as the "necessary evil." Now, we are needing to rely on performance data but we are discovering that the data may not be valid and reliable. Often times, we are using the same appraisals that we used five or ten years ago. Employees have a huge need for feedback especially Gen X'ers and Y'ers. With managers needing performance data and employees needing feedback, it just makes sense to make sure the performance process is updated and improved.

Here are 5 suggestions to make your appraisals rock:

1. Identify your organizational competencies that are critical for your success. This process is relatively easy by collecting data on what knowledge, skills and talents are needed to drive your organizational strategy forward. Include these competencies in your appraisals.

2. Make sure job responsibilities that are rated are relevant to the jobs being rated. Sometimes this means creating multiple appraisals for different job families. With talent management systems, this process is relatively easy. Employees need to see the linkage between their job and how they are rated.

3. Include a goals/objectives section that can be weighted accordingly. Goals are critical to strategic execution and without a tracking mechanism STRATEGY will fail. Yes, I said Many times strategy stalls at the top of the organization because all employees do not know what their role is. By cascading goals all the way down, you can track and make course corrections as necessary.

4. Train managers on giving feedback and rating scales. Make sure managers understand the rating scale. In other words, what does a "5" look like? What are the behaviors associated with a "5" performer? We call these calibration sessions. Also, not all managers are great at feedback especially when its not positive feedback. Training managers on how to coach, mentor, and give job related feedback is critically important in making the process effective. I believe managers are critical in the process...they can make it, or break it.

5. Automate your process. With so many talent management systems available today, it is relatively inexpensive to automate the process. By making it less paper intensive and more about "performance conversations" the better the impact.

Those are my five, now tell me yours...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

HR Innovations Conference Recap: Day 1

Yesterday, I presented and attended the "HR Innovations" conference hosted by the Performance Institute in Washington, DC. This conference is geared to the public sector and has some very interesting sessions.

I found some common themes in today's sessions. Effectiveness, efficiency, performance and strategy were key topics. Today's discussions had a different focus than previous conferences that were also geared to the public sector have had in the past. I have to assume that the recession has forced our public entities to move from a culture of "status quo" to one of "high performing and service focused." I think the reasons are clear, our government and educational institutions have slashed budgets, smaller workforces, and potential outsourcing and privatizing of "usual" government services.

So, with all that said, it was refreshing to hear HR professionals from many government organizations discuss strategy and metrics. Just like in the private sector, some agencies are ahead of others, some agencies have a clearly articulated strategy, others do not. But, I see it is a new day on Public Sector Street. Accountability and performance are now being expected just as it is in the private sector. I know in my home town in Atlanta, GA our mayor has a platform of change around performance and accountability.

I believe there is room for best practice exchange between the public and private sector. In each sector there are pockets of excellence. I have noticed that certain areas of the public sector seems to have a better grasp on data analysis and data visualization where the private sector has a lot of experience in the areas of increasing performance, in particular "pay for performance."

If one issue was burning for the Federal Government, it had to be performance management. They struggle with getting rid of non-performers and redeploying staff due to a shift in competency requirements. With changes in strategy with incoming administrations, competencies are subject to change on a frequent basis.

I was asked a very good question...

How do you keep talent engaged and deployed according to their skill sets with changing priorities in a government environment?

What do you think? We have some best practices from the private sector that may help...please let me hear YOUR thoughts and opinions.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Metrics...Check! Anyone Using the Data?

We all know the drill. You spend time creating your HR metrics that matter to your organization and then you send them out to management and they hit with a gigantic thud. I had one conference attendee tell me this story:

"I spent 24 months developing and HR scorecard, I sent the new scorecard out to our management team with a "return receipt" on the email. I had 2 managers out of over 40 to actually open the email. WOW!"

I hear stories like this all the time. We get so proud of our metrics that we forget to assist our managers in the "what do I do with this information" piece. The simple answer is to take action on the data. If we don't take action then why would we be measuring anyway?

In my experience the best way to get managers to pay attention to metrics that (should) matter is:

1) Make sure the data is relevant to the end user
2) Make sure the data is displayed in a way that is easily understandable and meaningful
3) Have action planning meetings regarding the data
4) Make sure you articulate the WIIFM proposition to the manager
5) Tie performance data to the metrics that need to be improved (that gets their attention)

Think about this scenario. You are tracking employee engagement and customer satisfaction by department. In your analysis you determine that departments with the lowest turnover have the highest employee and customer satisfaction scores. In looking further you determine that these departments are also the most productive. Let's just say, that you send out the data and it looks something like this:

I think you may get a reaction like, "So, what am I supposed to do?"

But, what if you sent out something like this:

By analyzing your recent customer, employee, turnover and productivity data, we have learned that:

By decreasing your average turnover by just 1%, doing so will increase your customer and employee engagement scores by 10-12%, which in turn will increase your location's productivity by 14%.

To assist you in the root cause of your turnover we have determined through exit interview surveys that you are losing employees due to long work hours and non flexile work schedules. HR is now reviewing policies to assist you in retaining your employees which will in turn increase your productivity.

The above sure is better than a lot of rows and columns...I'm just sayin'

Monday, June 6, 2011

Why HR? And Why Now?

I am asked to speak and teach quite frequently for graduating college students and continuing education students. Most of the time, I am asked to speak on a topic that goes something like this:

Why should I get in HR?
How do you get in HR?
Is HR going away?
Why did you get into HR?
What is next for HR?

Why I get asked these questions, I will never know. Maybe it is my passion for my profession. I am a "glass half-full" kinda girl, so I try and see the positives in life, people and work. Maybe that is the reason, they know I won't come in and tell them all to find a new major! :)

So, I guess my message to students is that NOW is a great time to enter HR because I do feel a shift coming and I do see progress into the world of "HR gets it." I believe our profession is at an important crossroads where "value" and "transactions" intersect. I see more and more HR professionals going down "value" street. Some will argue it is a little too late. I happen to think the recession forced HR to think and act differently. I see progress everyday in my work and my interactions with my fellow colleagues and students.

Here are some specifics that I base my opinion on:

1) Our company led a strategic bootcamp in Atlanta a few weeks ago. It was an all day event spent working on linking organizational strategy to HR activities. It was awesome. I saw HR professionals from some of our biggest companies, from government and education and small business, roll up their sleeves and really get the "hard-stuff." The conversations were awesome and each person was truly speaking the language of their business.

2) I see a lot of interest around metrics and analysis from HR professionals. As this work is my passion, I see the demand rising for this type of knowledge. Our C-Suite demands data and HR is gearing up to deliver. Brilliant!

3) Gone are the days just talking about being strategic and business partners and table sitters. I am so glad as I was so tired of those conversations. I now hear conversations around real business topics like how to drive strategy and how to make sure the workforce is as productive as it can be. Love it!

So my message is this...Go into HR but go in with a business perspective. Lead the change, and make a difference. People being productive at work is the end game and HR can impact whether that gets done....or not!