Posts Tagged ‘performance reviews’

Is it Time for a Workplace Clean Up?

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Nobody would accuse me of obsessive neatness.  Clutter and Creativity both start with “C” for a reason!

Even I agree there are some important HR functions that need an annual power washing.

Old Policies

Most companies have old workplace policies that no longer function, like two left shoes missing the rights.  Often a written guideline is tighter (or looser) than actual practice, or we are doing something altogether different than the “handbook” states.  Paid time off, sick days, adverse weather, expense reimbursement, call-in pay, vacation accrual, after hours work and dress codes may have changed over the years.  Check your policy closet for all the things that no longer fit.

Performance Reviews

What rating would you give to your own performance review process?  Does it meet or exceed expectations?  Most HR managers say “no”.  Too often, reviews are defensive or perfunctory.  If you accept inadequate reviews because you believe they will support you in a future employee claim, think again.  The opposite may be true.

This year, ask what you expect from a review process.  Is it about rewarding the right people for the right things?  Is it about tying company goals to individual behaviors?  Is it simply a way to ensure managers and employees are talking about important things?   Get clarity around the purpose of reviews and you will find the right method for you.

Stop the Insanity

Data is a funny thing.  Most of us have more than we will ever use, like that out-of-date case of alfredo sauce from Costco (“it was a good deal”).  Data can create important insights or become a source of confusion.  Every year, judge how well you collect, access and use data in your workplace.   Smart business leaders say useable, meaningful data is important for solving people challenges and making better decisions.  So often, data about hiring, employee retention, market pay, satisfaction and exit interviews prove our gut instincts wrong. (Alfredo sauce is cheaper by the single jar in the long run.)

Let’s be Different

We spend so much mindshare benchmarking with others.   Each Spring, consider how your workplace can be different.  Do you have an answer for the candidate who asks “what makes this place special”?  Is it hard to find great people for key roles?  Maybe you look and act too much like everybody else.  Paint your front door a bright color and add a catchy door chime.  Be different than your competitors for talent!

Merit Pay

Merit is defined as “superior quality or worth” by Webster, so why do we call our annual pay increases “merit” raises?  This Spring, away from the pressure of pay review time, decide if your system is working.  Is it overcompensating some roles because of the power of the annual “merit” raise?  Is it making you non-competitive in the market for scarce skills when the dollar pool is spent on all those non-merit raises?

Few enjoy the clean up process but all appreciate the results.

At CAI we build engaged, well-managed, low-risk workplaces. If your company could use an HR partner, please contact us at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 or learn more at CAI.

Bruce Clarke serves as CAI’s President and CEO, and has been with CAI since 2001. Bruce practiced labor and employment law with the national labor law firm of Ogletree Deakins for 18 years. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and was selected as one of North Carolina’s Legal Elite by Business North Carolina Magazine. Bruce is 100% committed to helping companies maximize employee engagement and minimize workplace liabilities.

‘Twas the Night Before Performance Reviews

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

nightime-holidayTwas the night before performance reviews were due to HR.
Not a positive thought was stirring, as I drove home in my car.
The forms they lay scattered on my desk and floor,
In hopes that some miracle would walk through my door.

I squirmed in my chair as I tried to recall,
but  the visions of greatness did not come to me at all.
Goals and objectives and day to day grind,
We all had worked hard but, oh, never mind.

When all of a sudden I rose from my seat,
Thoughts sprang from my head, as I stood on my feet.
I started to write and I wrote and I wrote,
“The forms were all eaten by my brand new pet goat!”

The look on the face of HR was surprising,
And gave new meaning to all of ‘there’s a storm sure arisin’.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a look from my boss which gave new meaning to fear.

A little old man but sharp as a tack.
I knew in a moment he’s not giving me slack.
More rapid than words flying came out of his mouth,
And shouted and shouted as the meeting went South!

“Now dangit McGoo, all these people work hard!
Connor, and Connie, yes Donald and even Bernhard!
To the top of their game! to the long days they spend!
Now go away! go away! Don’t do this again !

As I sat at my desk and I got my head straight.
I will do the job well though these forms may be late.
So up through the night and into the next day,
I focused on all of the words I must say.

And then, with a twinkle and smile on my face
I headed to work to present my true case.
As I walked by my office and straight past my door,
I read all the words and then read them no more.

I was standing amongst the best team in the place,
And their eyes were a mist as I asked them for grace.
Applause began slowly and then cheers of joy,
As they sounded like children, each girl and each boy.

Their eyes – how they twinkled! Their smiles were a glow!
These reviews were as fresh as a new fallen snow!
Their mouths were dropped open as they read one by one,
I captured each plus, each best job they had done.

But their faces turned tight and they snarled showing teeth.
Confusion like smoke encircled their heads like a wreath.
They had a long face and with a sigh and a jerk,
Said, “hey, this review only covers the last month’s worth of work!”

I was stumped and perplexed, as I fell off of their shelf,
And I laughed when I heard them, in spite of myself!
A wink of my eye and a twist of my head,
Soon let them know I had nothing else to be said.

I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,
I’ll fill out those forms, those misfits, those jerks.
But the clock alarm sounded and it filled me with fear,
It’s my fault, it’s my job to  keep notes through the year!

I sprang from the bed knowing this was a dream,
And away I drove swiftly to my office and team.
I heard in my head a voice whisper good cheer.

Our reviews don’t come once, they come all through the year!

If you need help with your performance review planning, learn more about CAI.

reneeCAI’s Advice & Resolution Advisor Renee Watkins is a seasoned HR professional with a diverse background in Human Resource. Renee provides CAI members with practical advice in a wide range of human resource functions including conflict resolution, compliance and regulatory issues, and employee relations.

 

Performance Reviews: How Does Your Process Compare?

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Annual performance reviews are often one of the most dreaded and stressful activities for both employees and managers. The process easily creates tension, and is usually directly tied to salary increases and bonuses for the employee.

While the intention behind performance reviews are good, the process itself is typically outdated and can lead to an inaccurate appraisal of employees. This infographic from Findmyshift explains where some of the gaps are in this process, as well as how other companies have improved their performance reviews.

 

Performance Evaluations: Time for Some Spring Cleaning?

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

In today’s video blog, CAI’s Vice President of Membership, Doug Blizzard, discusses performance evaluations. He starts by offering information from several surveys that indicate that many employers are finding little value with their current evaluation system and have plans to revamp their process.

Doug says that annual reviews can be valuable and a necessary tool to improve performance if they are done right. When defining the right way to do a performance review, Doug starts by saying that most performance issues are hiring issues. An employer may hire an employee based on their skills, but then realize that employee does not fit the company culture. The employer then has to spend time helping them fit in.

He also says there should be no disagreement about what a successful performance should look like for a specific team member. Employees should receive clear expectations from their managers to ensure they understand what they need to achieve. Doug also suggests meeting with your employees regularly to check in with them to see how they are working towards their goals. The last point that Doug emphasizes is for employers to not make the review about the form, but to focus on the conversation instead.

If you’d like additional tips on creating a valuable performance evaluation system at your organization, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7756.

6 Steps to Complete a Beneficial Employee Performance Review in the New Year

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

performance blogFor many managers and supervisors, completing employee performance reviews is a task at the top of their to-do lists at the beginning of the year. Performance reviews are important for a number of reasons. They are imperative for keeping employees in line with their individual goals, as well as the goals of the company. They often determine the career path of an employee and whether or not someone is eligible for a merit increase.

Because they indicate past work history and future potential, spending adequate time to prepare for your meetings with your direct reports is essential. Performance reviews are a vital part of the employer-employee relationship, and they should be beneficial to both managers and their direct reports.

Before you conduct performance reviews with your employees, consider the six tips below to achieve a productive and mutually valuable meeting:

Create an Ongoing Process

Instead of waiting for an annual performance review, managers should provide both constructive criticism and praise to their employees throughout the year and use the annual performance review to summarize the performance from the prior year. This will eliminate any surprises when completing reviews with your team members.

Take Time to Prepare

A good review starts with good planning. If you’ve kept notes throughout the year, your performance reviews will write themselves. Reexamine goals discussed in past meetings and collect specific examples of the times employees excelled and the times employees needed to improve during the year. Use this information to guide your review and help convey the expectations you have for your direct reports.

Have a Two-Way Conversation

A beneficial employee review includes participation from the manager and the employee. Allow your direct reports to reflect on their own performance and let them prepare answers for questions regarding their work flow and company activity for the future. Employees should be able to offer suggestions on how they can improve their work. Make them feel comfortable to mention items that could be hindering their performance or other concerns they may have.

Share Praise and Constructive Criticism
Reviews that only highlight negatives will deflate employees and leave them wondering if they are in the right position or with the right employer. However, managers who shy away from negative comments to avoid hurting feelings are doing their employees a disservice. Without constructive criticism, employees will not improve and will eventually become stagnant in their position. Strive to include praise and constructive criticism for a balanced review.

Match Merit Increases with Performance Levels
Giving two different employees very different performance appraisals and awarding them identical increases sends a message that performance does not matter. Your top performers are going to realize your poor performers are receiving the same compensation if not the same recognition, and you risk them decreasing their productivity or even moving to another company. Keep your employees motivated by giving awards based on performance.

Pay Attention to Your Employees
Performance reviews provide opportunities to give your employees feedback and also to gain valuable insight from their perspectives. It is an important time to give employees your undivided attention and listen to them to get their viewpoints on their performance and the organization as a whole.

For additional assistance in employee performance reviews, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558

5 Tips to Help Your Employees Survive the Holidays

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Your employees will juggle many more tasks during this time of year as they prepare for winter vacation, parties with their family and friends, charity events, children’s performances and whatever else they can fit on their packed schedule.

The holiday season adds plenty of joy to life, but it can also add stress. Recognize that your employees might be focused on something other than their work this season. To help them continue to perform well while they balance it all, use some of the suggestions below at your organization:

Rethink Break Room Goodies

The holiday season is full of delicious food. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, there are an assortment of treats and dishes for feasting. Many staff members bring their leftovers from the home to their workplace to share with coworkers. Encourage your team to bring in treats with fewer calories and less sugar to help employees have a healthier holiday.

Give Many Small Donations

Spreading cheer during the holiday season is important. Even more important is showing your employees that what matters to them, matters to their employer. In addition to holiday perks you’re already giving your staff, offer to make a small (or large) donation to the charity of their choice.

Understand the Priorities of the Season

Your employees will appreciate some flexibility around the holidays. Maintaining rigid deadlines will likely add more stress to the lives of employees who are planning parties, searching for presents and attending school performances. Family is the reason for the season for many of your employees. Acknowledge this by granting time off, okaying short days and allowing telecommuting.

Be Generous to Your Workforce

Don’t let your employees remember you as a Scrooge. Show your staff members your generosity during the holidays. What you give to your employees can range depending on office tradition or company budget. Some companies can afford to give each employee a bonus. Other employers might distribute gift cards to grocery stores or gas stations. Holiday hams or turkeys also make great gifts. Whatever you give, make sure it shows how much you appreciate your employees.

Remember to Plan for the Future

It is important to reflect on the accomplishments your company and staff achieved in the current year. Reviewing what didn’t go according to plan is also important.  Try to schedule employee performance reviews at the beginning of the New Year. Help your employees learn from their successes and mistakes from the previous year, and assist them in goal planning for the upcoming year.

For additional workplace tips regarding the holidays, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Seantoyer

3 Workplace Practices to Clean Up this Spring

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Today is the first day of spring. During the season of rebirth and renewal, people are eager to clean out their cluttered garages, revamp their tired wardrobes or get started on projects they keep putting off. Similarly to the improved changes you can make to yourself or your home, your organization can also take part in a transformation.

Giving your company a good spring cleaning will help you uncover inefficient and unnecessary workflows or outgrown policies and procedures. Here are three areas you should be sure to keep clean:

Social Media

More than 50 percent of people in the United States visit social media sites. The different internet communication channels will help you showcase your brand and connect with your customers in several ways. However, if you don’t have a strong social media policy, the disadvantages of the tools might outweigh the benefits. Drafting a sound policy can protect your company from risks, such as a reveal of confidential documents or slander from disgruntled employees. See what to include in your social media policy here: Create a Social Media Policy to Protect Your Business and Employer Brand.

Employee Reviews

Giving your staff positive and constructive feedback is critical for the development of their careers and the success of your organization. Annual reviews include the summation of the feedback you give to your team members throughout the year and the goals you want to help them accomplish. Make sure you take adequate time to prepare for them. Performance reviews conducted correctly help your employees focus on achieving success. See how your performance review process measures up here: Four Key Elements for Conducting Productive Employee Performance Reviews.

Low Performers and Poor Behavior

Poor performance can impede workplace productivity. Useless distractions or careless mistakes from staff members waste your organizations resources, time and money. Coworkers of poor behaving employees can also be affected if they have to pick up the slack or spend more time fixing errors. Although confronting low-performing workers can be challenging, taking care of the situation quickly will help your organization maintain success and high employee morale. See tips for helping your poor performers improve their work habits here: Addressing Poor Performance in the Workplace.

Keep the practices in these three areas of people management up to date and well documented to set your company up for year-round success. For more information on workplace spring cleaning tips, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558

Goal Setting is Critical for Employee Engagement and Company Success

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Tuesday’s post featured information for conducting productive employee performance reviews. In addition to the four key elements listed in that post, employee goal setting is another important part of the review process. Goal setting is helpful for managers and employees. Managers have multiple opportunities to provide employees with feedback during this process, and they are able to identify their employees’ strengths and weaknesses. Employees can see how their individual contributions affect and support their company’s bottom line when they begin making goals. If goal setting is done correctly, managers have measurable results to verify that employees met or did not meet their assigned goals, which is helpful when determining rewards and future career paths.

Appropriate goal setting can motivate employees to produce stellar work. Managers should help their direct reports create suitable goals for their positions. Assisting workers with goal setting keeps managers informed about the personal and professional interests their workers have.

 Successful companies have their employees set goals frequently—quarterly, monthly or even weekly—not just once a year. Here are a few tips to help goal setting run smoothly:

 

1. Know What You Want Accomplished

Employee goals should align with company goals. Managers should inform their staffs that their roles are essential for bringing the company success, and they should help their staffs tailor goals that will bring additional success.

Managers may have several goals that they would like their employees to accomplish, but they also need to consider the goals their employees would like to attain. Simply ask employees what they would like to achieve, and if their objectives are appropriate, help them create action plans. Employees are more likely to be engaged in their work when they see how their efforts benefit them and their company.

Sometimes managers and employees are overzealous with the amount of goals they create for themselves. All goals should support the overall company mission, so strive for quality instead of quantity when establishing them.

2. Can They Reach Them?

Unrealistic goals benefit no one. In order for employees to be happy at their workplace and produce good work for their employers, they need to receive fairness with demands and expectations. Goals that are too high or impossible to reach will leave employees feeling helpless. Keep their morale high and stress low by tailoring goals to their skill set, position and career growth. Goals should be both challenging and attainable.

When employees are satisfied with their specific goals, have them strategize ways to accomplish them. Break large goals into several projects and help employees set deadlines and determine adequate progress for each one.

3. Be Present

Goals are often unmet because of a lack of supervision from managers. This problem is easily avoidable if managers and employees agree to meet and discuss the progress of each goal frequently. Micromanaging is not necessary, but receiving consistent updates will help managers keep their employees on track, as well as help them identify and work through potential obstacles.

Managers should use update meetings to provide employees with constructive criticism and evaluate goal progress. During these meetings, managers also should take time to encourage and praise employees for their efforts. These meetings are helpful for forming stronger manager-employee relationships because of the constant exchange of feedback and shared desire to achieve great results.

 

Employees who consistently meet or exceed their goals should be rewarded because they are showing commitment to their work and their organization. Not offering rewards will result in employee frustration, which has the potential to decrease productivity and increase turnover.

If employees do not meet their marks, managers should schedule time to meet with them to discuss the reasons why they fell short. Employees have to take responsibility for their work. Managers can inform employees of their disappointment if goals were attainable. After acknowledging disappointment, managers should help employees rework their goals or brainstorm strategies to make them more achievable.

Please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 for additional tips on successful employee goal setting.

Photo Source: hanspoldoja, Miiish

Addressing Poor Performance in the Workplace

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

sleep at jobEmployees can exhibit poor workplace performance in more than a few ways. Some consistently arrive late and leave early, others are busy updating their social media accounts, and a few frequently struggle with closing their sales. No matter the types of problem performers your business has, continuing to let them under produce will harm your organization’s success.

Acknowledging and confronting poor performers are often challenging tasks for managers to execute. Weak sales, unsatisfactory customer service and decreased employee morale are a few of the consequences of ignoring low achievers.  To strengthen your business’ credibility in hiring top talent, address a poor performance issue immediately.

First identify the underlying cause that is making an employee perform inadequately. Many managers automatically assume that employees are solely responsible for their less than stellar work ethics. When investigating the situation, you might conclude that the employee is overly stressed from his to-do list, one of his immediate family members is seriously ill or he received incorrect information when he was trained. Once you narrow down the reason, you can proceed with a tailored improvement plan.

Incorporate the following actions into your improvement plans to accelerate productivity in low-achieving employees:

  1. Use specific examples when discussing occurrences of poor performance. Do not exaggerate or use the opinions of others when confronting the employee.  Ex:  “Joe, I’d like to address your tardiness. I have witnessed you being late more than five times during the past two weeks.”
  2. Take care to ensure that you know the best communication method for approaching your problem performer. No one handles feedback in the same manner, especially negative feedback. Proper communication can alleviate emotional outbursts or feelings of resentment.
  3. Create an environment of constant feedback and clearly communicated expectations. Waiting around to give feedback can lessen an employee’s sense of urgency to correct a mistake. Feel free to ask employees to repeat their understanding of your feedback, as well as the goals you want them to attain.
  4. Document each conversation and review session that you have with problem personnel. Be exact with dates, goals, deadlines, expectations and feedback. Capture both positive and negative results from the improvement process. This will help you evaluate whether the employee can turn his work efforts around.

If you do not see favorable results after maintaining an employee improvement plan for several weeks, your organization could consider moving the employee to another position that suits his abilities better. If this is not an option and all other efforts to improve productivity have failed, termination could be an effective solution.

To explore additional methods for handling poor performers, please contact an account manager at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 and inquire about CAI’s class called Managing Problem Performance.

Photo Source: hawken king

4 Keys To Success as an HR Professional

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Regardless of company size, an effective HR function is an essential factor in business success. As a strategic management partner and an employee advocate and mentor, the HR professional is in a position to help promote the business, the opportunities for employees and his or her own success by implementing the following:

1.  Positive Two-Way Communication

Excellent communication with employees can make a company great—or break the company when communication is poor. People like to work for management teams who are open and transparent, and the more potential there is for that communication to be a two-way street, the better. Sharing information and business goals with employees builds trust and cooperation among the ranks.

Suggestion boxes, email, company newsletters and open meetings between management and employees are all time-tested communication strategies that work. Make yourself accessible and be involved, and you will be a more successful communicator.

2.  Fair and Objective Performance Reviews

Implementing an objective employee performance review system will go a long ways toward establishing a foundation for career paths, raises and pay structure. To motivate employees, link top performance with bonuses or raises on a merit basis. Often a gift or public recognition of an employee’s accomplishments is as effective as money.

To ensure fairness for performance reviews, alert people ahead of the actual scheduled review if their performance is below par, and give them opportunities to correct the situation. Periodic feedback meetings also help, as does a cross-functional review by more than one manager. Satisfied employees who trust that they are being managed fairly are more productive than unhappy, resentful employees.

3.  Non-Monetary Benefits and Perks

Sweeten the pot with non-monetary benefits and perks, such as tuition reimbursement, flexible schedules, free parking or health club memberships. Perks and unusual benefits are an area where you can come up with creative ideas that will help attract and retain employees. (This topic is discussed more thoroughly in our previous blog.)

4. Improving The Bottom Line

You will become a company hero if you can use your knowledge as an HR professional to come up with ways to:

  • Reduce expenses for employee benefits such as medical plans or 401K
  • Improve recruiting, hiring and training practices and save costs
  • Increase employee productivity
  • Streamline and ensure compliance processes with federal or other regulatory agencies, such as OSHA

For additional information about how you can ensure your success as an HR pro, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: (UB) Sean R