User Statuses

We’ve just released a new version of PerformanceHub with a new feature you may want to make immediate use of, so please read on..
“New User Statuses”

You know how most employees in PerformanceHub are “Enabled”, but there are also statuses like Leaving, Past Employee and Disabled? Well, we’ve expanded the list and added some new functionality so that you can manage users more effectively.

These were the user statuses that we used to use:

User Statuses  2017-11-08 16:48:28

But now, you have these choices:

User Statuses  2017-11-08 16:48:28

This is how the new and the old statuses map
(green ones are brand new):

User Statuses  2017-11-08 16:48:28

As you can see “Active” is the new “Enabled”. We’ve also changed the name of Disabled to “Access Suspended”. When access has been suspended for a user, then they cannot login and they will receive no email from PerformanceHub (just like the Disabled status used to do) but we figured Access Suspended is a ‘friendlier’ term.

The new statuses help you manage users better and will change the way PerformanceHub behaves.

For users marked with; Family Leave, Long Term Sick, Long Term Leave and Sabbatical, they will not receive PerformanceHub email notifications, and their dashboard won’t list things that they need to do (although there’s a message on the dashboard to let them know why). Actions are also removed from the manager’s dashboard for these users. The idea being that they don’t get pestered while they are away. These users are also removed from various reports, so that you’re not chasing your tails trying to get things closed off.

You almost certainly have employees on maternity leave right now, so why not update their status to “Family Leave” today.

The new “Not Reviewed” status is an interesting one. You would use this if you have a user in PerformanceHub that’s there because they need to review direct reports, but they aren’t going to be reviewed themselves. For some of our customers, we have had some special code in place to mark users as “Fake” to deal with this (yes, I know, it’s a silly name!) but now you would deal with this by marking them as “Not Reviewed”. If you are one of the customers using the “Fake User” workaround, we have automatically switched them to “Not Reviewed”.

So manager’s know the status of their direct reports, when a manager has a direct report with statuses other than Active, we put a little icon next to the direct report’s name, so that the manager knows what the score is.

Finally, a brief word about reporting. When a user has a status that means they are unlikely to be progressing things in PerformanceHub, we remove them from various reports or put them in special pots in reports. This will cut down on a lot of ‘red’ in sunburst reports. We also ‘remember’ the status at the end of the review period, so appraisal reports reflect the status of the employee at the time of the review rather than whatever it is now. This brings me to the very last thing (honest) – we have added a new feature when ‘force closing’ appraisals. You can now attach the employee’s status to the appraisal so that reports are more accurate. For instance, if you force close an appraisal because someone is on maternity leave and it is unlikely to get completed, you can tell PerformanceHub this.

Other changes in this release:

  • A new PDP Targets sunburst report. If you have DPDs turned on, you will see it in the sidebar of your dashboard
  • The submitted date has been added to the Interims report, so you can create a ‘burn-up’ chart
  • A new Zone/Partner report for HR Partner management
  • Several usability tweaks
  • Squished some pesky bugs

 

What’s best: Lock-step or anniversary based employee performance reviews

We are often asked whether PerformanceHub supports anniversary based performance reviews. The short answer no. PerformanceHub only supports ‘lock-step’ reviews (sometimes referred to as “focal performance reviews”).

If you are thinking about this for your organisation, here is some of our thinking as to why we went down the ‘lock-step’ route. Maybe it will help you decide. 

 

Arguments in favour of lock-step reviews :

  1. Gives you a view across all your employees at the same time. If you have anniversary-based reviews, then some people may have a recent review, with others being as much as 11 months out of date, making performance comparisons unfair.
  2. Makes it easier to change your process, as you’ll have clear water during the year when no-one is doing reviews. So you can make the change and train / inform people as needed.
  3. Better completion rate: everyone else is going through the same process at the same time, so people are more focussed on getting it done. HR and managers know exactly where everyone should be in the process and can chase accordingly.
  4. Encourages the manager to consider the performance of individuals in the context of team and organisation performance. Managers can benchmark across their team, and with other managers, and HR can benchmark / calibrate across the whole company.
  5. If pay reviews are also anniversary-based, then some people may get unfair pay changes compared to their colleagues, particularly if part of bonuses and/or raises are tied to company performance. Eg a company goes through a lean period, then lands a big customer and is feeling more flush. Depending on when your review was, you may have got a small or large bump. It may be that reviews held later in the financial year are more likely to get a good raise/bonus, if the company is feeling confident of meeting the budget.
  6. Easier to keep people aligned to company objectives, and to know how much work is going on that’s not aligned to current company objectives. Also easier to build momentum for the start and end of the review periods, eg with all-hands meetings.
  7. Because people are out of step, it can make succession planning harder.
  8. Overall it’s less effort for HR and managers.
  9. You can do lightweight refresher training, but doesn’t make sense to do when it’s spread throughout the year

 

Arguments in favour of anniversary reviews:

  1. You can guarantee performance data for the first performance review of new starters.
  2. It spreads the load of doing performance reviews through the year; with lock-step reviews there’s one time every year when managers have to spend a lot of time doing reviews.
  3. If performance is measured against some standard or fixed criteria, then the benchmarking benefit of lock-step may not be so important.

 

So, there are some good arguments to go with anniversary based reviews, but not so many as the ‘lock-step’ method. Also, the arguments aren’t particularly strong, particularly if you have probation reviews or regular one-to-one meetings (both supported by PerformanceHub). When using these features, employees starting shortly before your organisation’s ‘appraisal time’ won’t cause any problems.

We’re not too convinced about the ‘spreading the load’ argument either. Sure, it might be less disruptive to not have to review your whole team at once, particularly if your review period ends at a busy time for you (end of year accounts for instance), but we feel that the amount of effort is increased if you have a constant trickle of reviews going on over the year rather than planning to do them all at the same time.

Effort can always be reduced by having regular one-to-ones, and by reviewing objectives as they’re completed. Also, by keeping the appraisal form as short as you can. Our tip here – for every section you want to add to an appraisal, consider asking yourself:

  1. Will filling in this section help either the manager or employee improve the employee’s performance (either by helping them form concrete plans or by getting them to think about something they wouldn’t normally)?
  2. Will filling in this section help the organisation improve performance (e.g. by analysing the data centrally and then acting on what you find)?
  3. Do we have a process and resources to analyse the data, i.e. will we do anything with the information once it’s collected?

 

Nowhere to hide

Today we released a powerful new dashboard for managers and HR. It provides a huge amount of insight into how objectives are being assigned and progressed in the organisation in real-time.

The new dashboard highlights problems and bottlenecks, both in the process and the delivery of objectives. Here are some of the things it will show you:

  • Who has no objectives assigned to them
  • Who has too few objectives assigned
  • The distribution of the number of objectives assigned – useful to see if some people have far too many objectives
  • Number of overdue objectives
  • Which managers have engaged their staff in the process and which have not
  • Where objectives and objective reviews are in the lifecycle
  • % Complete

It also gives you the ability to send managers who have problems or who are causing bottlenecks a private message to give them some, erm…. ‘encouragement’.

The dashboard is split into 3 sections:

Section 1: Direct Reports
Summary of objectives (or lack of them) assigned to your direct reports. Including ones assigned by matrix managers if you are using them.

Section 2: Second Line Reports
Summarises how your direct reports are assigning objectives to their direct reports, including how many objectives have been assigned and lifecycle progression statistics.

Section 3: Larger Organisation
If your direct reports have larger organisations under them, e.g. department heads, this section gives a summary of all objectives in each of these organisations.

The bottom line is: there’s nowhere to hide!

Rob Wheatley

HR In A Distributed World

Just over a year ago we released the first version of PerformanceHub into the world. Our plan was to first introduce it to UK based SMEs and worry about internationalisation once we had a good few customers. Well, that was the plan…..

Less than a year after it was first launched, PerformanceHub is being used in 17 countries on 4 continents!

So, what went wrong with the plan? Well nothing really, you’d be surprised by the number of UK companies that have operations dotted around the world. Working with these companies, we have seen how this distributed workplace challenges both Operations and HR.

Getting an effective performance management system in place in this distributed world is highly challenging and we’d say near impossible using anything other than a real-time online system.  The feedback we have received from our customers has been tremendous. PerformanceHub is really helping their performance management process run smoothly even though employees are in many different timezones. Customers have also told us how PerformanceHub is helping them set and meet objectives even though the bulk of the team is on another continent.

That’s it. No special message here, we just wanted to tell you about how we’re spreading around the world and acknowledge the fact it’s challenging.

If you are faced with the challenge of performance management and operations in remote locations, we’d be happy to help.

Rob.

Where have we been?

It’s been a busy few weeks here in Cogendo HQ. So much so we’re guilty of not keeping our blog up to date. To make amends, here’s a quick high level round-up of the latest functionality to go live in PerformanceHub.

  • Matrix Management Support – yeah, this was a biggie!
  • Interim reviews
  • Weekly dashboard reminder emails for people with outstanding items
  • Many new alerts to keep your process moving
  • Interactive organisation charts, employee location and job titles
  • Detailed HR performance report with graphs and statistics galore
  • Much improved sort, filter and find functionality for HR
  • Completely revamped interactive objectives cascade view
  • Minimum number of objectives config

Much more to come over the next few weeks. If you want to subscribe to our updates newsletter, drop us a mail at newsletter@cogendo.com and we’ll happily add you to the list.

 

PerformanceHub Release

Hot on the tails of our last update, we have yet another new feature to introduce to you today – Cascade Transparency controls.

One of the cornerstones of PerformanceHub and a Cogendo core principle is transparency. We believe that corporate transparency heavily influences the success of any company. But don’t just take our word for it, this is what Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies has to say –  “transparency helps to ensure that every stakeholder has a deep, personal commitment to the aims of the organisation”. We believe this is true and that transparency provides much more too, especially in todays open, social world. We’ll speak more on this in a future blog.

This is why we built the Objectives Cascade into PerformanceHub. A unique feature which enables employees to see how their objectives link to others in the organisation and how these connections eventually connect back to the overall company objectives. It’s a powerful motivator, giving employees a sense of how they contribute to their company’s future.

This week we updated the Objectives Cascade to give HR Admin full control over who can see what in the cascade.

Everybody sees their objective, the company objective it is connected to and all connected objectives below them in the organisation. But you can now tweak whether employees see their manager’s objectives, all objectives up the tree, their peers’ or their peer’s teams’ objectives too.

We hope this new feature gives companies the confidence to use PerformanceHub’s visual cascade even if they are not as fanatical about transparency as we are.

Partnership Not Parenting

In the early days of Cogendo we created a list of principles to help guide us as an organisation and also to form part our product’s DNA. We’ll work through all of our principles in coming blogs, but today I’m going to focus on “Partnership Not Parenting” (PNP).

A recent HBR blog post by Amy Gallo, “Making Sure Your Employees Succeed”, lists her guiding principles (for helping ensure that employees are successful), and we noticed one which is similar to one of ours, but with some (subtle?) differences.

In summary, Amy’s article flushed out 6 principles:

Do:

  • Connect individuals’ goals to broader organisation objectives
  • Show employees that you are a partner in achieving their goals
  • Learn about and incorporate employees’ personal interests into their professional goals

Don’t:

  • Allow employees to set goals alone
  • Take a hands-off approach to high performers — they need input and feedback to meet their goals as well
  • Ignore failures — be sure people have the opportunity to learn when they don’t achieve goals

It was the Partnership line that caught my eye. We think that it’s more than just showing an employee that you are a partner in them achieving their goals, it’s actually being a partner. Our PNP principle also factors in the “Don’t allow employees to set goals alone” principle of Amy’s.

So what does ‘Partnership Not Parenting’ mean to us? Traditionally objectives have been a very top-down affair: the manager tells their direct report (DR) what to do, and the DR gets on with it. This approach works fine for the armed forces, but employees are less likely to mentally sign up for an objective that they’ve had no part in. They may even believe it’s not a very good objective, but figure it’s their manager who’ll take any flack, so they’ll just keep their head down.

PNP starts with definition of objectives. This should be triggered by the CEO publishing the organisation’s top-level objectives. In our experience this will trigger a combination of top-down, bottom-up, and middle-out creation of objectives that relate to the overarching objectives. The manager may have some ideas for the DR’s objectives, and the DR may also have some ideas. At this point they should work on the definition of objectives together, refining, expanding, as they go. The bouncing back-and-forth often results in a better objective than either could do alone: the manager providing a broader corporate view, and the DR often having more in-depth knowledge or expertise. As a result both will feel ownership, and the DR will feel like (s)he had an equal voice in the process, increasing engagement and likelihood not only of success, but also of quality and productivity.

Wherever possible, the DR’s objective should be related to one of the manager’s (or their group’s) objectives, and the manager should be able to make clear how his objective relates to one or more organisational objectives. Thus the DR gets to feel that (s)he owns a part of a larger objective, and the manager sees that success on his objective requires success on the DR’s.

The manager and DR should sit down regularly (e.g. a weekly one-to-one), and review progress, with the manager passing on any updates relating to the broader objective, and the DR updating on progress on their part. Both should be thinking in terms of whether the two sides are still aligned, and whether they need something from the other to stay on track.

When the objective has been completed, they should sit down together to review it: and record data from both parties.

Goal setting and defining the stepping stones to achieve them should be a collaborative effort between a manager and their direct report. The same with reviewing performance – although I hate to use the word review as it suggests I mean a sit-down ‘so how did we do?’ meeting that inevitably gives rise to little surprises. In a true partnership there would be no surprises, the review would be to simply document the important stuff you both already know. Only then will you achieve the levels of employee engagement that lead to peak performance. Collaboration is the essence of the partnership, contrary to the ‘old school’ parental mandate.

You still need a framework to build this partnership on and an understanding of how to apply it. The framework could be your employee appraisal process (assuming you tie in all the way down to 121s) or of course PerformanceHub. The understanding for me came from experience, but could so easily be taught. However, in all the hours I’ve spent on management courses (sent on by my past corporate employers) I don’t think I’ve ever been explicitly taught this. A shame really, as it would have been a great accelerator in my early management days.

Rob Wheatley

Cogendo

 

 

Organisational Efficiency vs Company Size

Operational BenefitsLarger companies are more efficient.  More talent to pool from, better buying power, efficiencies of scale…… Right?

Many of us have heard this said, particularly if you worked in an organisation going through rapid growth (via acquisition for example) but I’m sure that for anyone who has been there, you’ll feel quite differently. I do, particularly with my past role as “innovation ambassador” in a multi-national. Size there was stifling – well, more precisely, poor communication was, but I’ll leave “innovation in a large company” for another day.

This post was to share with you a study by Allan Engelhardt. It hit a chord with us at Cogendo as it highlighted one of our motivations to create PerformanceHub. In a nutshell, he showes through crunching the numbers of more than 4000 companies, that there is often a relationship between organisational size and productivity (as measured by profitability). As a rule of thumb, for every 10% increase in organisation size expect a 1% drop off in productivity.

For companies undergoing rapid growth (which has problems in itself) these numbers don’t stack up well. Let’s say you have 50 employees at 100% productivity (nice to have) and grow to 100 employees over a year.  Your average productivity per employee drops by around 8%. At an average employee cost of £40k a year, that’s over £3000 per year per employee wasted. Or in our little example, a total of more than £300,000 a year lost!!

This does beg the question – where’s the productivity going? Well, my opinion is that it’s lost in a myriad of small things. Degraded communication, devolved decision making, additional levels of bureaucracy, unclear disconnected goals, reduced employee focus and arthritic organisational agility to name a few.

If you’re reading this and nodding your head, you’re staring our motivation to create PerformanceHub in the face. With it, we try and address some of these problems head-on and from what we hear, we’re winning…….

Rob Wheatley

CEO

Cogendo