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Should You Set Goals Like Google?

by John Courtney on May 8, 2017

Google is the most audacious company in the world. Their new projects are often so ahead-of-the-times that it can be hard to differentiate a google press release from a blurb for a sci-fi novel. Google is currently

  • Running a study to understand what a healthy person looks like
  • Figuring out how to make cars run on salt water
  • Launching internet balloons that will bring wifi to every last inch of the world
  • Sending out cars that already drive themselves
  • And of course, moving us closer than anyone to the Singularity

Maybe you work for a company with goals as big as Google’s, but you probably don’t, and that’s ok. Most of us are working on goals like “Increase employee retention 12%.” Steady, incremental improvements designed to help us get a little bit better or even just keep the lights on another year.

There is nothing inherently wrong with incremental goals, but maybe we can also learn something from being a little more like Google, being a little more audacious.

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The S in S.M.A.R.T. Goals

by John Courtney on April 26, 2017

In this series we explore the science behind the 5 elements of a SMART Goal (Specific, Measurable, Agreed On, Realistic, and Time Constrained). This week's article is about the “S.”

SMART goals are most commonly associated with the iconic management consultant Peter Drucker. He articulated the ideas behind SMART in his 1954 book The Practice of Management. Drucker believed an organization should start by setting objectives and then working backwards to determine the work needed to to achieve them. The actual acronym however did not appear until a 1981 article entitled There's a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management's goals and objectives.

The ideas behind SMART are timeless, however if you simplify complex ideas into simple acronyms a lot is lost. That is why we think it is time to go back to the source, and explore exactly what makes SMART goals smart.

This week we look at the S, which stands for “Specific.”

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Topics: S.M.A.R.T.

In Defense of Performance Reviews

by John Courtney on March 29, 2017

Everyone hates the employee review

The non-practical types love to talk about killing performance reviews. Professors and thought-leaders can go on for hours picking apart every last imperfection and preaching about utopian workplaces where they would be unnecessary. The national media picks it up and next thing you know everyone has an opinion. Meanwhile those of us who keep the trains running are left to deal with the backlash.

HR’s special gift

That is a special part of working in HR, our work impacts everyone. If you tell a new dinner party friend that you work in network engineering it might kill the conversation, but tell them you work in HR and there will be questions and opinions for the rest of the night. Just the other day a man named Rob asked what I do. My answer kicked off a five minute diatribe on the pointlessness of performance reviews, that illogically wound itself to a conclusion that reviews are some vestigial corporate BS. BS that survives only because management hasn’t gotten around to excising it yet.

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5 Tips That Make Employee Reviews Easy

by John Courtney on March 21, 2017

You set up meetings with all your direct reports and head to a small conference room for the day. One-by-one they come in, you hand over an official review document, and then deliver feedback sandwiches. This is why you’re good, this is why you're bad, but wait (insert big smile) here is another reason why you’re good. Ok, talk to you later.

You hate it, your employees hate it and the feedback is so jumbled up into sandwich form that the message is often missed.

Performance reviews are a fundamentally difficult task because they require one person to stand in judgement of another. That said if you set yourself up in advance and don’t try to squeeze too much out of this half-an-hour once-a-year they can be a great opportunity to have conversations that set your team up to succeed.

Here are five things you can do to make your performance reviews feel more natural and productive. 

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Radically Simple Performance Reviews

by John Courtney on March 10, 2017

There is an endless cycle of debate over how to do employee performance reviews. Should you set cascading goals; perform reviews yearly, quarterly or on a project basis; assign scores; collect feedback from managers, colleagues or direct-reports?

There is no shortage of opinions out there and they all have ideas for adding complexity to your review process. So when the largest professional services company in the world decides they are going to simplify their reviews, it qualifies as radical.

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First, Take Back Your Company's Time

by John Courtney on February 24, 2017

At PerformYard we serve mid-size organizations (50-500) that are tired of their homegrown performance review system. Their old process is often a combination of paper forms, clunky excel docs and maybe an under-supported feature from their payroll provider.

Before our customers come onboard their performance reviews are-

Costly: with weeks of HR’s time and many hours of managers’ time spent facilitating the movement of forms and tracking down the right information.

Hated: with outdated ideas and cumbersome busy work that makes managers and employees frustrated and uncomfortable.

Unhelpful: with no system for efficiently collecting and managing the data, performance reviews are a huge initiative every year that has little to show for itself.

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About this blog

Our blog is chock full of insights for HR professionals on performance management best practices, achieving goals, boosting productivity, and increasing engagement. 

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