We have been reading about Continuous Performance Management for years. Initially, the concept seemed like a great direction, but for many it just “wasn’t time yet” to transition.
Even though we understand that engaged employees fuel business and project success, transformation is difficult. We may be constrained by understaffed Human Resources teams and lack of organizational buy-in. Certain members of leadership feel lost without attaching employee performance to a number for various purposes.
According to this CoreAxis article, 45% of HR Leaders do not think annual performance reviews are an accurate appraisal for an employee’s work. Additionally, according to the 2019 Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering Industry Survey, the top 3 challenges participants are facing managing talent are: career development planning, employee engagement, and performance management.
With this information, why are we allowing this organizational resistance to deter us from impacting lives, transforming and modernizing our organizations’ processes, and solving tomorrow’s staffing challenges today? This resistance is holding us back from taking care of our most precious resource, the people we need and value. It is way past the right time to make a shift, and start changing and modernizing for all the right reasons.
YOUR ARGUMENT FOR CHANGE
Expectations of the modern project-based workforce are high, especially in a candidate-driven market with low unemployment. The modern project-based workforce craves variety, autonomy, and constant development. They are looking for opportunities to showcase their skills, be competitive, and advance.
THE FINANCIAL ARGUMENT
We know the expectations and needs of the workforce are shifting and still we are not acting. The companies that do act now will have a significant advantage. As an example, consider the following:
According to a SHRM/Globoforce Survey, 89% of HR leaders surveyed agree ongoing feedback and check-ins have a positive impact on their organizations, yet according to Gallup, only 19% of millennials say they receive routine feedback, and only 17% say the feedback they receive is meaningful.
Consider that if you had to engage a 3rd party recruiting firm to replace just one disengaged employee (let’s use an Engineer for example), you are most likely paying a 25% fee of $21,000-$31,000 to replace a key performer. How much revenue must your organization generate to cover that expense? What else could you do from an employee development perspective for your entire organization with $21,000-$31,000?
THE TIME ARGUMENT
Annual appraisals are often viewed as inaccurate and unhelpful, so why wouldn’t we be willing to spend 10-12 hours per year on something highly impactful rather than wasting 6-8 hours on something that is not? In addition, organizations can rely on technology to alleviate training and consistency issues when it comes to supporting conversations, those between Manager and Employee.
YOUR NEW PROCESS
Any time an organization attempts to rebuild performance management processes, it is imperative to build off of these two key principles:
Performance management should fuel the employee’s development and growth. It must be objective, impactful, authentic, and intentional. Employees must have the opportunity to drive and steer their careers while engaged in continuous development that allows them to grow and provide for themselves, their families, etc.
Performance management must also have an obvious alignment to the organization, and a substantial mutual benefit that increases profitability and organizational success. Employees drive their development, and managers facilitate it.
Three are three ingredients at the core of the Continuous Performance Management recipe:
#1 Continuous Feedback
There is a common misconception Continuous Feedback is just a “check-in.” This sells the process way short. Continuous Feedback, while it can be used to fuel the check-in process, goes substantially further. It can be used to pull in third parties such as project leads and owners, matrix managers, HR, and peers. It should be used to keep project leads/owners or managers in lock-step with team members and employees, but should also be used to discuss Learning outcomes and practical application, project milestone progress, and goals/development progress. It can even be used to have real-time discussions on items the employee will be rated on for their appraisal. Note that according to the same SHRM/Globoforce survey, semiannual appraisals accompanied by continuous feedback are twice as likely to be accepted and viewed as accurate than annual appraisals without ongoing feedback.
#2 Continuous Goal Management
This process is exactly as it sounds, allowing for managing goals continuously, outside of a traditional appraisal workflow. It provides the opportunity for a fluid view of the employee and is not time-boxed looking at human beings in six-month or one-year increments. Our lives are those of a continuous progression, as should our performance and growth be managed.
#3 Development Plans
These are starting to gain a lot of steam, but something that has been central to the Deltek Talent Management system for a long time. Development plans should be used for three key benefits:
Onboarding- not the onboarding of new hire form completion, but the onboarding that quickly engages a new hire and focuses on the most effective and efficient way to onboard them to the point where they become a billable or productive resource.
Role Proficiency/Mastery- once billable or productive, this new plan now focuses on becoming a high performer in the role.
Upskill/Reskill- this final plan is implemented to prepare the employee for promotion into management or technical lead positions, or to reskill them for a transition to a different area of your organization.
It is a simple and highly compelling concept to realize that revolutionizing your performance management process to meet the needs of the modern workforce is quite simple. The 2019 Deltek Clarity Government Contracting Survey shows that Continuous Performance Management is considered to be the most important Human Capital Management trend to focus on. With your competitors keenly aware of this issue, and your organization suffering from stagnancy and engagement/retention issues, are you ready to make the transition? Deltek’s expertise in performance management and project-based business support is the key missing component to your organization’s success.
Only 40% of employees strongly agree that in the last year, they have had opportunities to learn and grow and almost 80% of employees feel that they do not have performance metrics that are within their control, according to research conducted by Gallup. There are ways to fill these gaps in your talent management strategy and ensure that your employees have access to the growth opportunities they want and the learning options that they need. You can even align all of these efforts with the strategic goals of your firm while retaining more top talent.
Continuous goal management enables employees and managers to keep track of their goals all year round, without these goals necessarily being tied to a performance review to do so. This makes it easy for both managers and employees to set, update progress, and review goals at any point in time. This makes it easy to be adaptive throughout the year, aligning goals to current business requirements, changes in responsibility, or new projects. By regularly reviewing progress, opportunities for development can be identified quickly, instead of waiting until the annual appraisal.
Increase Employee Engagement with Continuous Goal Management
Administrators can maintain a library of goals for use by employees. This can aid in goal setting, giving employees a starting point for the types of goals that are used across the organization.
Employees can access their goals, both those set within the appraisal and those from continuous goal management, from the My Goals link under Performance.
Both employees and managers can set goals for employees. This is done with a simple one-step process. They can choose goals from the library, past appraisals, or other employees as a starting point, or create their own goals. This include SMART goal instructions to help make the goal Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Goals can be based on a scale, numerical target, percentage complete, complete/incomplete, or with no score for informational purposes.
Report: The Digital HR Function
Managers can access employee goals from the Actions menu for an employee. This will give them a listing of all active employee goals, both those set within appraisals and those through continuous goal management. For example, we can see the goal set by Matthew and review it here. They have the option to edit goals, update goal status, retire goals, or delete goals. Any updates to goal progress made here will also update these goals within appraisals, so that all goals can easily be tracked in one place.
Goals can dynamically be added to employee appraisals, similar to how job competencies can be automatically added. When you add the new Employee Goals category to the appraisal workflow, in the Content step, the option to Include Active Employee Goals is available, that will pull in any active employee goals into the appraisal automatically.
Why Your Firm Needs to Implement Continuous Feedback Now
Continuous feedback and goal-based performance management strategies can help to more quickly and easily drive consistency in employee development and engagement in your organization. This modern approach is a key strategy for businesses that have employees constantly rotating on and off projects. Continuous feedback discussions can drive productive performance management conversations between employees and managers that in turn, can help to drive employee engagement, productivity, and even profitability.
We like to talk about continuous feedback at Deltek, the performance management method our teams use. If you’re new to the continuous feedback method, it includes ongoing feedback between two or more parties. These active discussions provide opportunities to check-in, build relationships between employees and managers, foster innovation and creativity, and address action items or issues. Sessions can focus on various aspects of performance; such as initial feedback when a new hire joins the company, general check-ins throughout the year, project-based feedback around an employee’s involvement in a project, growth opportunities for the employee, progress tracking toward goals, salary discussions, and performance review discussions.
One of the top challenges facing firms cited in Deltek’s Clarity surveys year after year is “Employee Retention.” Poor retention results in the constant need for firms to recruit new employees, especially in fast-growing organizations. When organizations are stuck in recruitment mode, it can be nearly impossible to advance strategic initiatives that would actually have a positive impact on employee engagement and retention. It can be a vicious cycle if you get caught in it.
According to Gallup, only 30% of employees strongly agree that in the last six months, someone at work has talked to them about their progress
Additional research shows that people aren’t motivated by outdated annual performance reviews. Only 21% of employees strongly agree their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work
Only 19% of millennials say they receive routine feedback. An even smaller percentage of millennials (17%) say the feedback they do receive is meaningful
As managers and leaders, one of our top priorities is to maximize the output, productivity, and efficiency of our people. We know the key to achieving this is retaining, engaged employees who know what to do and how to do it. So why are we not talking to our employees more regularly? Often times, even when feedback is being provided, there are issues with the quality of that feedback. Managers may be biased, causing their feedback to come across as being tinted with favoritism or inconsistent in terms of timing and delivery. Feedback can be perceived as untimely, irrelevant, or lacking in specificity if it isn’t given at the right point in time (such as at the end of an employee’s engagement in a project).
Many managers and employees experience fear and discomfort around feedback discussions. Often there is uncertainty around how to broach topics that need to be covered or what type of reaction it will trigger when you do. Some managers fear the effect of the discussion on their popularity and may feel uncomfortable with being direct and/or critical. These types of discussions are MUCH easier and more comfortable when the exchange is relevant, timely, and objective. This also helps to alleviate concerns around being too critical. Regular and consistent interactions can go a long way to help employees and managers develop a good rapport for making even difficult conversations less scary and intense.
My colleagues and I have benefited immensely from the continuous feedback model that we use. I know your employees will, too.
As a part of our underused Talent Management features series, we wanted to highlight some of the different ways you can recognize the accomplishments of your employees. In this post, we will walk through three underused Talent Management features: Employee Recognition, 360 Reviews, and Project Appraisals. Each of these features makes it easy for you to recognize your employees and for your employees to recognize each other.
We often talk about the modern workforce in our posts, but I think the desire for recognition is pretty universal. Your employees want to feel like they are contributing to your business and they want to know that they are having a positive impact on their colleagues. It can be difficult to find the time to create these types of programs and that’s why we’ve built features into Talent Management to help you create a positive culture of recognition and collaboration. If you’d like to learn more or see these features in action, check out our recent demo called “Give Employees What They Crave: Recognition.”
#1) Employee Recognition
Within Deltek Talent Performance, employees can submit recognition for other employees in the organization. The employee giving recognition can provide information by selecting “create new employee recognition” and inputting information for one or more employees. They can include specifics about the situation and the skills and competencies that the employee or team demonstrated.
Once employee recognition has been given, the employee who gave this recognition can see the feedback they’ve given and received, and can drill down to view the details of each entry. This screen lists recognition created by the logged in user, as well as recognition submitted by other employees to recognize the currently logged in user.
Employees can view the feedback they have given and received
When the entry is submitted, an email notification is sent to the employee being recognized, his or her manager, and the user who submitted the entry. Additionally, both the manager and employee can access recognition as a part of the employee’s performance review.
Include Employee Recognition entries in performance discussions
#2) 360 Reviews
Another way to collect information is through the use of 360 appraisals. These reviews expand the performance process from managers/team leads and employees to others who have information about the employee’s performance (both inside and outside of the organization). Managers can easily launch a 360 using a workflow template and choose who the feedback will be requested from.
360 Reviews are easy and intuitive to launch and use
If you enable the option, employees can also recommended others they would like to participate. It is also possible to keep the participants anonymous in the employee’s view. Once all participants are confirmed, the manager can review and advance the 360 to the next phase. At this point, participants in the 360 receive an email notification with a link to the solution to complete their task. They are able to review the items included in the form, as well as provide comments where applicable.
As participants complete the review, managers can view who has/hasn’t completed their tasks. They can drill-down into each completed review to see individual responses. They also have a summary view available to them to see results side-by-side.
All completed 360s are stored within the employee’s past appraisals section
Additionally, a project team lead can launch project 360s for members of the project team. External participants (such as the client they worked with) can also be included to obtain feedback on project delivery. Reports on 360s are also available, making it easy to see what feedback is being captured.
#3 Project-Based Appraisals
What can you do to make sure that the feedback you’re providing your employees is both timely and relevant? One answer may be at your fingertips. There are many different ways to manage employee performance, ranging from annual performance reviews to continuous feedback sessions. Deltek’s strong focus on projects means we also provide project-based appraisals for your project team members. This makes it easy to involve project managers in the review process and solicit feedback on employee performance at the end of projects they are engaged in.
Within Talent Development, project teams can be added and team members and a team lead established.
As a part of the project team, performance reviews can be launched for team members by the team lead.
Project reviews can include goals, competencies, achievements, and other components. These components are then available for review and scoring by the team lead. This means your employees are getting relevant and timely feedback that can be immediately applied to their next project. You will create a culture of performance and recognition while helping your employees to develop and advance more quickly.
If you are looking for ways to drive employee engagement and improve performance across your project teams, then you’ve found a great place to get started with these features.
The three features discussed here are easy to use and easy to implement. Make sure to subscribe to hear more about ways you could be leveraging your Talent Management solution more fully.
We get a lot of questions about engaging and retaining talent and in particular, millennial talent. Taking a good look at your performance management process can be a great place to gain some ground with your younger workers. A renewed focus on meaningful and timely feedback can go a long way toward improving your firm’s appeal to this generation. Keep in mind, however, that the desire for impactful feedback does not exclusively belong to a particular generation. All of your employees will benefit from continuous feedback cycles.
Getting started with continuous feedback can be overwhelming, especially since it is often a big departure from more traditional methods of managing performance. That being said, it’s also a very worthwhile investment whether you pair continuous feedback with existing appraisal cycles or switch to an entirely different methodology for managing performance.
Your organization, like many, may use one-to-one sessions informally, but you could be missing the opportunity to realize the results and outcomes typically associated with continuous feedback cycles. Detailed records and notes can help both managers and employees stay accountable to one another and drive even greater goal achievement. The ability to easily recall and refer to previous conversations can make a huge difference to employees and managers in the middle of an appraisal cycle. When you utilize the continuous feedback capabilities in Deltek Talent Management, you will have this information at your fingertips.
Continuous Feedback Records in Brilliant Talent Management allow you to refer to previous discussions.
Managers and employees can both view details and notes from prior sessions.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some best practices to help you take your first big steps forward. An initial focus on training will set your organization up for success by ensuring that both managers and employees understand the short- and long-term purpose of feedback sessions. Since most of the work will happen between individual employees and their managers, it is especially important to create some excitement and buzz around this new methodology.
Here are 5 key points to emphasize when you begin training your workforce to implement Continuous Feedback:
There should be clear reasons why the meetings are being held
Create an agenda and set goals for the meeting
Never meet just for the sake of meeting or to check a box
Keep employees engaged by asking them to drive
Give employees some control over their goals, development, and outcomes
Deltek Talent Management can enable both the preparatory steps and the effective execution of continuous feedback sessions. Managers will be able to schedule and add notes or files with the solution to allow the employee to prepare for the upcoming session.
Sessions can be scheduled, accepted, or declined within the solution. Add notes when the session is created to help both parties prepare for the meeting.
When a session is taking place, start by reviewing the purpose of the meeting, along with prior meeting notes, keys wins and noteworthy challenges since the previous meeting. Spend some time on progress toward development and goals that have been previously established. Part of this discussion may focus on past concerns, issues and lessons learned, but the larger focus should be around how to move forward, and what future goals should be.
Look to new project assignments for opportunities to create future goals that stretch performance to a new level. Also, take the time to understand where the employee wants to go in the organization. Are there ways that current or future projects can help prepare the employee for a new direction or even a new role in the organization? At the end of the session, make sure to review the topics that have been discussed, along with action items, takeaways, and expectations of progress before the next meeting.
Conducting these meetings face-to-face, as much as possible, will help your managers and employees build the solid and trusting relationships necessary to be truly effective during these discussions. And, make sure that you do this for all employees, including those that work remotely. Making use of video conferencing solutions can help you make certain that all employees receive the same treatment regardless of where in the world they work.
Here are an additional 5 tips to share with your managers to help ensure that their sessions are as impactful as possible
Be on the receiving end more than the giving end
Be ready only to steer, like assisting from the front passenger seat, rather than doing everything for the employee
Practice active listening with the intent to understand, not just waiting for your turn to talk
Use the time to build and strengthen relationships
Energize and motivate employees by making sure each session is personalized to the employee – know your employees and make sure they get what they need from the sessions.
At Brilliant HR, we live and breathe Talent Management and the project lifecycle. These two important aspects of the project based business share certain synergies that are often overlooked. We are unique in that we have a targeted focus on solving the challenges that organizations like yours face every day and delivering solutions like Deltek Talent Management that provides the features and functionality to help you deliver even better projects.
So, how do you cultivate the project life cycle by optimizing your use of Brilliant HR/Deltek Talent Management? Not every project is identical, but the basic concepts are consistent and by using that as a starting point, we can begin the discussion. It helps to think of a project that impacts us every day, but does not require a formal work breakdown structure and where, the process and requirements are the same. I’ll use farming as my example.
With farming the cycle is well defined, simple, repeatable, and reliable with a clear goal to produce a harvest of natural, organic goods. If we reduce the process to the most basic steps, you have to prepare the land > then plant your seeds > nurture, fertilize and water your plants > harvest your crop, then repeat the process for a new harvest.
Granted this is a highly simplified description of what goes into the process of growing food, but it gives us a good framework of the project from start to finish. Project planning can be that simple, as long as you have a clear and repeatable defined steps. You have outlined your tasks, considered the risks, created a contingency plan, and have the proper tools to accomplish the desired outcome. .
Now let’s shift that life-cycle model to talent management. Brilliant HR Talent Management is a critical piece in any project because your people are at the very heart of the project life-cycle. Talent Management is where the project begins by identifying, hiring, and cultivating high performance teams and then retaining that top talent for future project positions. Without the right talent solution in place, your project could very easily crash before it even begins.
Similar to the farming example, let’s take a simplified look at what the Talent process looks like when integrated with the project life cycle.
Recruit > Hire & Onboard > Review Performance > Teach or Train > Develop
A Talent Management solution can streamline the process by helping you:
Identify and recruit top talent to build the high performance teams you need to win more projects
Select candidates that best fit the project position(s) based on required skills, competencies and certifications to take the guesswork out of resource planning
Onboard new employees faster and seamlessly transfer their data to your ERP solution without manually duplicating efforts
Ensure employees assigned to projects are up to date on their certifications and provided learning opportunities to hone their skills. This will help you consistently grow the value of your most important asset, while minimizing risk exposure on your projects
Review progress and provide continuous feedback throughout the process on performance and achievements, by using the solution to facilitate discussions and manage goals
These five easy steps can all be accomplished using Brilliant HR Talent Management and that is only the beginning. Once you have the basic framework in place, you’ll be able to implement an even deeper strategy by incorporating in-house learning programs, succession planning, career paths, and mentor-ship programs.
A great talent management strategy is like a road map, but in order to plan, execute, and measure the success of that strategy, you need to have the right solution in place. Think about it. Can you say today that your solution is enabling the success of your talent management strategy? Are you able to find, nurture and retain the best talent to ensure that you’ll be repeatedly awarded the projects your organization needs to continue to grow? At the end of the day, are you able to measure how successful your firm has been in acquiring and retaining the very top talent in the marketplace? If you just shrugged your shoulders, it’s definitely time to start thinking about what an integrated talent management solution could do for your business.
I chose to relate project planning to farming because it is easy to identify with the common theme of cultivation. Doesn’t this sounds like what you do every day? Finding, recruiting, acquiring, developing and cultivating top talent? If you leverage and maximize Brilliant HR Talent Management in this way, you’ll position yourself to deliver more successful projects! It’s often said you reap what you sow – so get to cultivating!