inTalent Consulting has extensive experience in creating and using performance appraisals in an effective manner for Fortune 500 companies, SMBs non-profits and others.

The Situation

Many of the formalities of large corporations are refreshingly absent in a somewhat smaller organization. Everyone works together to grow the business with a passionate, team-based spirit. Communication is typically open, frequent and far-reaching with little effort. But, what happens when all the hard work pays off and almost suddenly that small company becomes a mid-sized corporation? Many of those previously avoided formalities— such as performance appraisals —become not only helpful, but also essential to maintaining high, quality growth. .

inTalent Consulting was hired by a $3 billion fast-paced company that needed a sustainable leadership bench to fuel their growth. This was one part of putting a talent “system” in place, as our team guided the company through the design, development and roll-out of its first company-wide performance management process. Nothing “on the shelf” felt right for this company’s culture. inTalent’s work with the leadership team highlighted their desire to instill the right mindset around performance discussions, rather than institute a highly automated or impersonal process.

The Challenges

Growth leads to more employees and more employees lead to more viable candidates for a company’s top positions. Employees vying for these positions expect to be evaluated in a fair and consistent manner, no matter which manager they report to. It doesn’t take much for your high performing employees to walk out the door if they don’t feel valued, and a poorly run performance management process can undermine discretionary contribution in a flash. Additionally, every conversation has an opportunity to reinforce or undermine the belief that there is a career path within the company. High performers as well as early career employees especially need proof that there is ample opportunity for upward movement.

Introducing performance appraisals for the first time can be complex. It is imperative to protect the culture of the company; make employees feel supported—not judged; and at the same time, consider the legal ramifications of a formal performance record.

The inTalent Solution

The inTalent team crafted a “people-first” approach to invigorate this company.

Staff Surveys – Staff surveys are instrumental in creating the right system and the right attitude around performance management.

Employee Quotes – Employees and managers’ quotes were used to create design principles that carried through the entire project. The quotes are also powerful tools in training, reminding employees that we listened carefully to what they said, and reminding managers that this was not an HR initiative, but rather an employee-driven initiative.

Pilot Roll-Out – We rolled out the implementation to pilot groups, rather than a company-wide “big bang” approach. We selected candidates that would champion the initiative, but also provide constructive feedback that would be well-received through the company.

Free-Form Input – The system captured more than just ratings, allowing users to document, among other things, their interests in other areas of the organization. This helped set the tone of employee development and support, rather than management

The Result

As a result, the company introduced a development-focused performance management process that fostered in-person dialog, rather than replacing it. inTalent’s collaboration with the internal HR team yielded a process that enabled conversations about performance goals, accomplishments, career progression and personal objectives. This talent process reinforced the company’s desire to celebrate “whole person” development. In the end, performance management was welcomed into the organization as a strategy in supporting the business growth.

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