Employee training programs.
What may sound like HR industry jargon are actually some of the most powerful tools at the disposal of HR and talent professionals today. While you may think these terms would strike fear in the hearts of job-seekers, the opposite effect is taking place. In fact, a people’s team core mission is ensuring a workforce is not only functioning optimally but doing so in happy spirits. Hired’s 2016 Opportunity Index reported that 66% of employed adults would take a pay cut of 20% or more to be happy at work. With that mind, keeping career development programs and the opportunity to grow with your employer are quickly becoming two of the most desirable employee benefits.
On the Hired platform, we see that trend play out constantly with 70% of our candidates choosing companies based on the whole benefit package — learning opportunities, opportunity for growth, culture, etc — rather than the fatter paycheck. This should be music to the ears of all employers; not only do these programs attract great talent, they help retain great talent.
To learn more about how to create effective performance management programs that help engage and grow your employees, we sat down with Lindsay Dagiantis, VP of HR for Envoy. A lifer of the HR and recruiting industry (not to mention the fact both of her parents are HR professionals), Lindsay has over 10 years of experience working at technology data, and digital marketing companies. At her new role at Envoy, she is leading the charge on creating the framework to support employee growth. For her, that starts first with listening to her most important customer: the employee.
“The first thing I did was to implement an engagement survey. I needed of data and voice of my customer to understand how to build a roadmap.” From that survey, Lindsay’s suspicions were confirmed; people want more feedback to understand how they’re progressing. This has been a trend that Lindsay has seen throughout her career, but that does not mean there is a one-size-fits-all solution. To find the right fit, Lindsay employs a framework that most startup founders are familiar with; she builds an MVP or Minimum Viable Product. By ramping up quickly, validating assumptions and iterating on your process, you can ultimately land on a framework that works for your team. The ability to executive fast shouldn’t be hindered by investing in management tools. Start simple; utilize a Google Doc or Trello/Kanban Board to begin documentation. And instead of rolling out a new process to the whole company, start small and run a beta test with a smaller group of stakeholders.
To successfully deploy an MVP, the first task is to define rituals that help maintain this initiative. Establish weekly one-on-ones between individual contributors (ICs) and their managers to encourage consistent communication. “Managers and ICs alike need to know that feedback will strengthen them and their team. The more frequent the cadence, the easier it becomes to build transparency,” Lindsay suggests. To make sure the meetings are effective for both sides, take time to outline an agenda that will guide the conversation. Provide a few simple questions that should be reviewed weekly and documented in a known place that can be referenced and can act as a living document that sheds light on the IC’s growth over time.
Structure needs to be provided to scale a deeply personalized process, but you can’t forget that this process is exactly that - personal and human. Attempting to over-engineer the process could in fact have the opposite effect you originally aimed for. When training managers on how to effectively master the art of management, keep it simple. Lindsay notes, “Sometimes, the best training can be real life.” The benefit of setting a weekly meeting that allows for continuous conversation and dialogue is that you can (and should) pivot towards what works best for each individual employee.
In addition to establishing structure and training, the biggest advantage in creating a performance management program is the opportunity it provides to celebrate a culture of feedback among your organization. This environment helps contributors and managers alike understand the impact their work makes on the business each day to foster productivity and fulfillment. Lindsay’s advice to create rituals, transparency and to “bring your whole self to work everyday” are tactics that HBR suggests help to build a feedback-rich culture.
In a feedback-rich environment, ICs are held accountable just as much as managers to preserve not only culture but empower towards growth. Performance management programs have reached their full potential when ICs “feel empowered to take control of their own career development.” Lindsay notes that even if you don’t currently work in a feedback-rich environment, you can still spearhead that in your own career by having frequent, honest conversations with your manager. Showing the initiative and being proactive allows you to build your own MVP to test and iterate, and ultimately take ownership over your own career development.
When it comes to career development, feedback is not a four letter word. Rather, it is an essential tool that helps you both attract and retain great talent. To help build this culture in your workplace, start with simple rituals that put people first.