One-to-One Agendas

We have just released a great new feature for one-to-one meetings: Agendas.

For the 30% of our customers who don’t have one-to-ones turned on (yes, 70% of customers do have it turned on, in fact it’s one of PerformanceHub’s most popular features), one-to-ones is a PerformanceHub feature that enables managers to set-up regular one-to-one meetings with their direct reports; both the manager and direct report can record notes for each meeting.

With this update, you can now enable one-to-one meeting agendas, to help ensure that meetings are focussed, and that the right topics are discussed.

Here’s a screenshot of the new settings in PerformanceHub’s set-up page:

1-2-1 meetings settings

 

 

The keen-eyed would have spotted there are 3 new options to choose from when setting up one-to-ones:

“Meeting agendas”
This is how you turn on the feature. Without ticking this box, everything stays the same. But, once you have ticked it, you get a simple fixed agenda that HR Admin can set and is used for all employees.

“Separate standard agenda for managers”
Tick this box if instead of a single standard agenda you want to have different agendas for managers vs non-managers. Again, HR have control over what these two agendas are.

The standard agendas are edited in a new tab in HR’s Configuration area called “Agendas” – look for it in the main navigation bar once you have turned agendas on. We have created some default ones to get you going. These are applied as soon as you turn on the agenda feature.

“Managers can create team agendas”
Tick this box if you want to allow managers to manage their own agendas. Employees will initially be given a standard agenda as defined by HR (the settings above) but managers will also be able to create their own agendas and assign them to one or more of their direct reports. They will be able to do all of this in the One-to-Ones tab using the “Agendas” link in the sidebar (under the list of direct reports). They can drop back to the standard one at any time from here too, if they wish.

When an agenda has been set, then it will show as a coloured ‘card’ at the top of the meetings list on the One-to-Ones tab. Simple as that.

Should you use agendas?
We think so, even if you just turn on a single fixed agenda under HR’s control to give employees a little guidance on what to talk about in one-to-one meetings.

 

Other changes in this release

  • Employee roles are now ‘pinned’ to the appraisal/probation review rather to a review period. It means that a better history of changes are kept, particularly when roles change between a probation review and an appraisal
  • Several usability tweaks
  • Squished some pesky bugs

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:

But now, you have these choices:

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

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?