Should You Ditch Performance Reviews?

Should You Ditch Performance Reviews?

Our recent episode with Drift founder David Cancel put performance reviews on our mind. Well, really it put them out of our mind. In recent years, companies have begun to realize that traditional annual performance reviews aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. David advocates for the benefits of reviews…but with a special emphasis on coaching. What’s the benefit of drifting away from typical reviews? Read on…

What’s wrong with the traditional performance reviews?

If your own experiences with annual reviews haven’t already convinced you that they’re terrible, then let me share some numbers with you. In a survey conducted by the Human Capital Institute, 78% of HR managers said they think the annual performance review isn’t effective in improving employee performance. Another 56% said annual reviews aren’t an accurate reading of performance.

Companies are adopting less formal, more frequent reviews

So what to do instead of the annual review? This is where the “coaching” mindset takes over. Many well known companies have started conducting casual, more frequent reviews. Companies like Adobe, Patagonia, GE, and Microsoft are seeing the benefits. In a report of 27 companies, 100% that adopted continuous feedback systems said that performance conversations improved, and 73% saw increased employee engagement. Adobe even created a framework for their “check-in” process that creates an ongoing dialogue between managers and employees.

Develop your skills 

So, how does one get started adopting a new review method? Rebecca Zucker, executive coach and partner at leadership development firm Next Step Partners, says that it’s a skill that takes time to develop. You’re going to have to put in the time, just like learning any other skill. 

You need goals for your discussion. Harvard Business Review recommends that you come up with some goals for the discussion before you draft your review. You want to make sure that your feedback comes across clearly—especially if an employee has done well in one area, but not another. Documenting goals and taking notes in and before the conversation will help you make sure that your team members don’t confuse the areas where they’ve done well with the ones that need improvement.

Invest in tools

If your mind is racing to figure out how to deal with a paradigm shift away from appraisals and towards coaching, don’t get too worried. You can take it slow. Josh Bersin, principal at Deloitte says, “Companies pursuing such changes shouldn’t expect to make them overnight…H.R. departments have to reorient around new software and new processes.” Forbes also stresses the importance of taking advantage of the latest tech tools.

A good tech tool might be one of the biggest keys to help make the shift towards coaching. Look for software like Waypoint, which helps managers schedule on-on-ones, take notes, and set goals for themselves and their team members.

The Harvard Business Review insists that we all remember the importance of documenting your meetings. HBR recommends that you record your feedback so that it can be shared and saved. “Record your observations about your employee’s job performance as objectively as possible,” says HBR, “and tie your conclusions to hard data. Provide evidence of progress (or lack thereof) by connecting accom­plishments with established goals: ‘Derek increased sales by 7%, which exceeded his goal of 5%.’” You don’t want to be caught unprepared for legal questions when it’s time to give a raise or let someone go.

Look for technology that will help you keep on track with your coaching and one-on-ones, and provides a platform to track your goals and progress. A good tool, strong documentation, and consistent feedback will help you get the most out of your time spent coaching your employees.

Banish Spring Fever by Boosting Your Office Fun Factor

It’s springtime, which means if you’re like me, these beautiful days are making you super restless in the office. Do you agree? Have you noticed your team getting antsy in their swivel chairs? Now is the perfect time of year to step up the fun factor at the office to keep your team motivated. Here are some affordable, easy ways to have some fun with your team!

Get outside

Get outside

Spring and summer became much more enjoyable when our office invested in a picnic table and some lawn chairs from Costco. For a small team it wasn’t a huge investment to make. We step outside during lunchtime, eat our lunch, and soak up some vitamin D.

This time of the year we take advantage of the walking trail by our office. Need to have a meeting? Forget the conference room. Turn the meeting into a walk-and-talk instead. If you don’t have a walking trail nearby, try picking a destination. Have a walk-and-talk all the way to a local coffee shop, treat your employee, and head back. Get those wheels turning on the way and the two of you will surely spin out some great ideas.

So lets say you work in an industrial park with no good walking areas. It’s time for you to bring the outdoors inside. Get some plants! Green up your space! Enough said!

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Are You Mislabeling Your “Core Values”?

Have you and your team wrestled, cried, shed blood-sweat-and-tears to get your core values just right? Well before you call it good, you might want make sure what you’ve drafted are actually “core values.” According to one consultant writing for Harvard Business Review, there are actually FOUR types of values: core, aspirational, accidental, and permission-to-play values. How about you? Are your values “core values,” or do they fit one of these other definitions instead?

Our Growing List of Values

We’ve talked to a lot of “best places to work” over the last couple months, and we’ve discovered one common thread woven through each business. Everyone we talked to had identified clear, concise values for their company. This growing list is a compilation of the values of our guests on the podcast. Some of them are virtues, some are verbs, and others are ideas. As you mold and shape your own culture, use this list for inspiration.

How to Draft Your Core Values

How to Draft Your Core Values

Since beginning the Best Place to Work Podcast, the importance of core values has become abundantly clear to us. But how do you get them if you don’t already have them? Thee of our expert guests weigh in about how to start drafting core values.

Get input from the team

When defining your core values, don’t forget to ask the people who matter most. That’s why when it was time for Alight Analytics to draft their guiding principles, co-founders Matt and Michelle turned to their team. Everyone was at the whiteboard when they asked one simple question: what do we want to be known for as an organization?

Ownership of the culture is in the hands of everyone, not just the leadership. That means that everyone has the pleasure and responsibility of deciding what the culture will be like, and everyone has a role in holding others accountable.

Alight’s six principles aren’t just between coworkers, either. They actively guide the company’s identity and are a part of everyone’s formal review process.

Alight Analytics Guiding Principles:

  • Integrity
  • Communication
  • Innovation
  • Teamwork
  • Fun
  • Leadership

Study your strongest players

Academic Works helps connect students with scholarships, so it’s not hard for the employees to get behind the mission; many of them wish that something like Academic Works had been around when they were in school. As Academic Works began to grow, the founders wanted to preserve the positive culture they started out with. How to do this? They reverse engineered their core values.

All they had to do was figure out what was so great about their people. The leadership began by identifying the people at the company they liked working with most, thought about what qualities they possessed, asked themselves why they liked working with those people…and then the core values revealed themselves.

Academic Works core values:

  • Engaged
  • Kind and Respectful
  • Obsessed with Customer Experience

Study yourself under stress

When they first started out, the team at Adage Technologies intrinsically knew what their core values were, but hadn’t identified them yet. As they encountered challenging business situations they found themselves agreeing again and again on how to deal with them. Issues are never black and white in business, and through each new challenge Adage’s core values floated to the surface over time.

Founder Roy Chomko sees the core values as drivers for how they act as a company. Since identifying their five values, the team at Adage has felt that they have a strong sense of who they are.

Adage Technologies core values:

  • Be an ambassador
  • Do the right thing
  • Evolve and adapt
  • Get it done
  • Enjoy the journey
How do you scale your company's culture as you grow?

How Do You Scale Your Company’s Culture as You Grow?

Let’s say you’ve managed to foster a wonderful company culture in your small business. Great! Way to go! You’ve succeeded where so many others have failed. But what happens when you succeed in another area…? What happens when you start to grow…?

Many companies find that as they grow their culture suffers, until one day they don’t recognize themselves anymore. How do you scale your company’s culture as you grow? Three expert guests from our podcast managed just that; here they weigh in with some tips.

Growing to sell

Name: Doug Burke
CEO, Cognitive Medical Systems

Doug Burke began Cognitive Medical Systems six years ago. They started small with just four people: two entrepreneurs, and two people with experience in Navy healthcare. In just six years, they have grown to 50 employees.

But here’s the kicker: The founders have been growing Cognitive to sell.

How do you motivate employees to commit to a bootstrap startup without a big Silicon salary, and with the knowledge that the company will be sold soon anyways? Doug suggests giving all employees stock options. Once Cognitive sells to a larger company, that’s when the employees will get liquidity. Because they have a stake in the sale, the employees have motivation to work hard to build the company.

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