In 2022, Evolution Partner Kim Lapcewich saw the need to formalize the performance management process at Mainline Environmental. Many employees were unclear on their job responsibilities and expectations, leading to duplicative work and frustration. Although the leadership team saw the benefit of implementing a more formal evaluation process, they were concerned about the lack of a Human Resources Information System. Kim assured them that they did not need an HRIS to manage performance, it’s all about setting goals, ensuring candid and productive conversations, and holding all parties accountable. She began by identifying the needs and creating a strategy.
Step 1: Prepare
The first step in implementing a review system was to set clear objectives and measures while tying in the Core Values. Think of the objectives and measures as the “what” and the Core Values as the “how”. Additionally, Mainline Environmental was comprised of two environmental companies, each with a different history and culture. Kim thought setting clear objectives and measures would help create better visibility and drive greater consistency between the companies. In addition to the primary goal of elevating performance, she saw an opportunity to assess potential and improve team engagement. Other benefits included identifying training and development needs, and promoting communication and collaboration between managers, employees, and teams.
Step 2: Align on the Process
The Mainline leadership team worked together to develop a document that allowed employees and managers to set goals which aligned with Mainline’s objectives and vision. It also incorporated the company’s Core Values, reinforcing their importance as a guidepost to decision making.
Step 3: Set Objectives and Measures
Kim and the leadership team discussed the business strategy and what it would take to achieve short and long-term business goals. Once the team determined their goals and objectives, they were able cascade them throughout the organization. There were objectives and corresponding measures around productivity, quality of work, financial performance, and communication. The team then ensured that the objectives and measures were “SMART” – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
Step 4: Train, Practice, Reinforce
Kim provided comprehensive training to Mainline managers and employees on how to maximize the benefits of the new process. Managers were trained on and practiced setting objectives and measures, including tips on providing constructive feedback, and the importance of coaching. Real-time coaching is the linchpin to success in performance management. By coaching in the moment, or as close to it as possible, managers have better success seeing behavior change.
Step 5: Establish a Consistent yet Flexible Approach
Typically, objectives and measures are established at the beginning of the year and revisited quarterly with a formal review at the end of the year. Although establishing a consistent schedule for reviews is important, organizations need to remain agile in today’s dynamic business environment and revisit objectives as needed rather than on an annual basis. Strong leaders help associates translate high-level objectives into specific plans, activities, milestones and day-to-day deliverables.
Step 6: Ongoing Support, Coaching and Feedback
Kim is accessible to the Mainline team, providing ongoing support and feedback to managers and employees throughout the year, as needed. Managers are provided with the necessary tools and resources to support employees in achieving their goals. Employees are provided with regular coaching and feedback on their performance, to encourage continuous improvement.
Results and Conclusion
The process helped to align employee goals with the company’s objectives and core values, leading to better performance and results. When associates understand how their goals relate to the company’s goals, performance improves. The new system helped to identify high-performing employees for career path discussions, as well as those who may need additional support or training.
The implementation of the new employee review system at Mainline was an important first step in creating an environment of accountability and a common performance-based language. Short-term goals are being achieved, but the real payback will take time and focus. Ultimately, if done correctly, effective performance management goes beyond improving employee performance. It helps establish clarity on what is needed to develop employees, better understanding of bench strength, and increased accuracy with workforce planning. Your organization will be fully aligned on where you are heading and how you will get there.
Implementing an employee review system requires planning, communication, collaboration, and consideration of the company culture. The successful implementation of an employee review process at Mainline Environmental serves as a testament to the importance of these steps in achieving success.