Human Capital Management Blog

Strategies for HCM Professionals

4 steps to transform your performance management process

performance managementBy Kevin Thompson, VP of Professional Services, Ceridian

It’s that time of year, the annual performance review!  We’ve all had them, the grueling session where you and your manager try desperately to remember what you did last year.  Or maybe you are one of the many who have no idea how you are doing; you just receive a note with your new raise in it.  Many of us have been pondering this annual ritual and thinking to ourselves, there has to be something better.  The traditional process of:

  • Set next years goals
  • Review goal progress mid-year
  • Perform employee self-appraisal
  • Manager evaluates employee
  • Have performance review
  • Receive raise
  • Rinse and Repeat

just isn’t cutting it anymore.  Done poorly, this process can be ineffective, demotivating and according to the trending news, a waste of time.

You would probably be surprised that I’m ok with making the raise a non-event, maybe a meeting instead of a note, but it shouldn’t be the climax, or anticlimax, to an otherwise dysfunctional process.  While the dollars are very important, it is moving from a methodology of employee appraisal to employee development that will drive employee engagement.  It all starts with conversations.

In a day and age when we are connected 24/7, it has become critical to constantly and consistently communicate with your workforce.  The expectation of the business is that as a leader you always know how your team is doing.  This is nothing new.  You should have dashboards and key metrics in place that help you measure performance and forecast trends both at a functional business level and an employee level.  However, now it is the expectation of the employee that you know how they are doing and work with them to evolve as employees as well.  To do that, you need to communicate with them in ways that are meaningful to them.  Oh and guess what, what is meaningful to one is not necessarily meaningful to all.

Regular conversations and check-ins with each individual on your team is critical to moving the bar from annual performance management to ongoing performance development.  The first step is determining what employees want to know and need to know and how frequently they need to know it.  Let me describe for you the method we use in the Ceridian Professional Services team to work with our employees and move them toward long lasting careers with our team where the tenure is over 15 years.

We listen to feedback

Through employee surveys, focus groups and discussions, we listen to our staff and analyze the feedback to identify areas on which we must focus.  We look for trends and issues which are impacting groups of employees.  We look for root cause and leverage additional discussions to clarify and understand the real issues.

We focus on 2 or 3 key initiatives to address the issues

It is way to enticing to try to fix everything at once and the result is you fix nothing.  Identify a couple of key initiatives to move the needle and then deliver on those flawlessly.

Talk with our people & lead by example

We have instituted a formal biweekly (at a minimum) one-to-one meeting with each employee which has a set agenda.  The directive is that once a month at a minimum, you will discuss employee performance (based on the latest metrics for that individual and performance toward annual goals), employee career development activities and training, and their employee engagement level. In every one-to-one you discuss current activities, issues and risks and ask how you can help them be successful.  These are conversations which focus on the development of the employee and align them with the goals of the team and the business.  Helpful hint: if you are doing most of the talking, something is wrong.

We use multiple mediums to send the message.

Finally, we leverage redundancy in messaging to reach our people  in a multitude of ways.  We use Twitter, LinkedIn, TeamRelate, All Calls, Town Halls, Two-Downs, newsletters, email, blogs, videos and team level meetings to drive consistency of messaging and share what successful performance looks like.

It takes a significant amount of effort to drive this kind of process across an international team of 200+ people, but it not only drives superior employee engagement., but it drives superior performance for your customers and business.Oh, and it eliminates the annual employee appraisal process and turns it into an ongoing employee development program.  When done properly, employees know how they are doing, they know what their career path is and when you have that annual raise discussion, there are no surprises.

Kevin ThompsonKevin Thompson is head of Ceridian’s Professional Services organization.  Over the past 13 years, Kevin has held numerous leadership positions within Ceridian.  Prior to Ceridian Kevin was Executive VP of an IT consulting firm and spent a number of years in IT leadership roles at Anheuser-Busch, Inc.


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