As learning professionals, we know that we are often in the public eye, perhaps under some level of scrutiny to be an example of what we want to teach and instill in others. Much like how leaders must practice what they preach, we must be able to create and use job aids and keep reminders handy to help ourselves — just as we do to help our learners.

In my previous role as a training and development specialist and now as an organizational development manager, I’ve developed a template to help keep me on track and on task and to prevent my missing any critical steps along the way. In general, the template reminds me about important questions to ask, important people to communicate with along the way, strategy and execution details, a measure of success, and the timeline and milestones we expect to follow in order to reach our goals. The template is below, along with a performance management project example.

Important Questions to Ask

  • What’s not happening that should be happening? We’re not seeing employees complete the steps in the system, which are required to document the performance conversation process.
  • What is happening that should not be happening? Too many clicks and too much guessing to make the system happy with the data they’re inputting.
  • What do you want to see more of? We’d like to see more participation in the process company-wide, as well as an easier way to report on the progress of our formal conversations.
  • What do you want to see less of? We want to see fewer people abandoning the formal process in the system because it got in the way.
  • After we’ve delivered the perfect intervention or solution for your team, what will be different? Once we have corrected the process or the system to remove any barriers to completion, we’d like to have 95% or higher participation in the program and sufficient documentation to support HR action, as well as quality conversations between managers and direct reports to support the development and growth of those associates.
  • Details about the engagement: Where? When? How long? We are going to skip our formal documentation process during the end of the third quarter and into the fourth quarter to allow time to correct issues. We want to roll out the improved process in the first quarter of 2020. For any one associate, the system-based portion of the process should take no longer than five minutes. For the conversation between the manager and the direct report, managers should target a 15-minute conversation.

Important People to Talk to

  • The sponsor of the engagement: Jane Doe, the vice president of human resources.
  • The project manager: John Smith, the organizational development manager.
  • Subject matter experts (SMEs): the HR team, TrainingIndustry.com and SHRM.org.
  • The intended audience (departments and/or individuals): testing with the marketing and product management teams; then, rolling out to the whole company.

Strategy and Execution

In this section, I record the details of those conversations, including assumptions and data that supports the need, our plan to address any issues, and our expected outcomes. In this section, I also outline the support we’ll provide learners after the training, including just-in-time access to steps and actions. This component may be the most important piece of all.

We need to cut down on the overall process to its bare bones and rebuild to meet our requirements, not the system. The focus of the quarterly performance conversations is the conversation itself, with some documentation to prove that it occurred and to support any employee actions, such as personnel improvement plans.

The ultimate focus of this endeavor is to increase employee engagement and help associates and managers build a trusted relationship through which they can work out issues. By focusing on this goal, rather than compliance aspect, we hope to create a more sustainable program.

We could provide support for the completion of effective performance conversations through job aids, on-screen prompts in the system, electronic messaging, video-based training, and walk-throughs and practice.

Measure of Success

Every good program has a measure of success; after all, if success is not defined and not measurable, how can we know if we did well? It’s important to be specific in this section, and it is not the place to fight to keep your job and budget. Just state the facts, and stay focused on your intended audience and its needs.

Our most important need is quality conversations about performance between managers and direct reports. We will consider our efforts successful in the near term (Q1 2020) if we can achieve 70% participation in the revised program and successful in the longer term if we have 95% or greater participation by this time next year (Q3 2020).

We will define participation as both an employee and his or her manager creating, at a minimum, a short written summary of their performance conversation, which will include goals or next steps.

We expect that participation will increase as we do a better job of shortening the amount of work needed to input data in the system, leaving ample time for the actual conversations.

Milestones

Once you know what is required and how you want to do it, commit to the actionable items by setting dates to follow up and complete all tasks. Be sure to celebrate milestones along the way, and communicate well with everyone on the project.

  • Discover and document areas of improvement.
  • Reach out to our vendor for assistance in configuring the system to better meet our needs.
  • Search the marketplace for alternate vendors that meet our requirements.
  • Compare available solutions, and demonstrate and evaluate them with the marketing and product management teams.
  • Resolve any issues, and make a final decision.
  • Roll out to the company, including learning supplements and guides.

That’s it! Great reminders like this template can be a lifesaver during your daily grind. As with any new tools, you’ll always want to take it all in, give it a try, and throw out whatever doesn’t work for your culture or situation. Enjoy!

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