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                                                  HRIS for Small to Mid-size Companies

Effective Organizations
(Organization Development)

Reducing the number of management levels can improve the speed and accuracy of communication.  Organizations that have many levels of management process information slowly. Plus the information gets filtered along the way, often for political reasons which can conflict with the overall good of the organization.

Processing information quickly and accurately, then acting upon what is learned, is critical for the success of an organization. Another key item is selecting relevant information for measuring organizational performance relative to organizational goals. This ca be challenging in light of today's information rich environment. (Selecting the wrong metrics, those which pull the focus of the organization away from what is most important for its ultimate success, will harm an organization). After selecting the appropriate metrics, organizational performance can be further enhanced by linking the performance results to individual or team incentives.

Performance Management is a process that can facilitate the flow of information in an organization. Performance Management includes the following:

  • A flow-down of goals beginning with the organization's strategic plan, to the annual organizational goals, to the President's or CEO's individual performance goals, on down to all employees in the organization. Thus each member of the organization can ultimately tie their individual performance goals to the organizational goals
  • A formal feedback system in which individual performance results can ultimately flow back and influence the organization's strategic plan. Feedback must occur frequently.
  • A mutual (between the employee and manager) establishment of duties and responsibilities and criteria for measuring success. Also, performance results are mutually determined. The mutuality is what encourages the feedback.

Studies have shown that Performance Management makes a big difference. Companies with Performance Management systems have higher Return on Equity, Sales Growth, Sales per Employee, and Income per Employee than those companies without. Also, the total shareholder return for companies that adopted Performance Management systems increased after the Performance Management System was installed.

360 Degree Performance Assessments complement the Performance Management system by providing performance feedback to individuals. The 360 degree performance assessment has an advantage over the traditional manager assessment process in that the individual receives feedback from multiple relevant sources, not just one. The probability of receiving reliable feedback increases dramatically as you increase the number of evaluators and evaluation perspectives. At its best, the 360 degree assessment can encourage an environment of openness, where employees listen to feedback and learn to grow. At its worst, the 360 degree assessment can be distracting and disruptive if it is not done properly. The steps in the 360 degree assessment includes:

  • Identify and define the key competencies for organizational success based on the organization's vision, values, and goals.
  • Express the key competencies as attributes against which participants can be assessed.
  • Select who to conduct the evaluation. Typically a number of peers,customers, subordinates, if applicable, and the manager are selected.
  • Compile the results. Feedback is kept confidential.
  • Provide feedback to the individual.
  • Create an action plan to improve the individual's performance.

One important factor for the success of a 360 degree performance assessment is to ensure that the right people are selected to provide the feedback. Both critics and supporters of the individual should be selected. Another key to success is avoiding punishment for bad results. Rather, assessment participants must be positively encouraged to improve.

The results of 360 degree feedback can be linked  to coaching and development plans and used in performance appraisals, promotions and pay increases.  Feedback alone does not always change behavior.

Avoid split personality work environments. Communicate organizational vision, values, goals, and rules of behavior frequently. Employees need to clearly understand what the organization stands for, what kind of behavior is encouraged, and what kind of behavior won't be tolerated. Otherwise, employees will spend much more time and energy discussing, fighting and/or worrying about these issues. The organizational vision, goals and values should be communicated at employee meetings and posted on company Intranet sites, bulletin boards, etc. There's often a strong temptation to excuse some "key contributors" or "primadonna's" in the organization from following the rules, for fear that they will leave if they are forced to follow the rules. Fight that temptation,otherwise the credibility of the rules will suffer.  Also, enforcing rules of behavior on some and not others will run the risk of lawsuits.

Interpersonal problems and personality conflicts exist in all organizations and they take the employees focus away from the goals of the organization. Several ways to reduce interpersonal conflicts include:

  • Diversity training. Diversity training was originally designed to foster better relations between ethnic groups and genders. It grew out of Affirmative Action Planning, but it can also promote understanding and acceptance of different personality styles.
  • Personality Assessment. Understanding one's own personality style and behavioral tendencies and those of others in the organization, can help foster better interpersonal relations in the organization. The best teams are comprised of members with diverse personality styles. These are also the teams in which cooperation is most difficult to manage. Several systems of personality categorizing are used in organizations. Two of the more popular ones include Meyers/Briggs, and Enneagram.
  • Coaching. Coaching is typically used to help correct a weaknesses in an individual who is otherwise valuable to the organization. Correcting the weakness takes time, effort, follow-up, and a desire by the subject of the training to improve. Coaches provide one-on-one counseling to help encourage the development of the subject. Often the weakness is discovered as a result of feedback from the 360 degree assessment (see above). Usually a coach is referred by the individual's manager. Sometimes the use of a coach is kept secret from the others in the organization to avoid possible embarrassment, and other times not.  A coach may remain in contact with the individual for months or even years.

Training and development of employees in an organization is very important. Training is needed to keep the employees' skills current. Also insofar as it serves as a foundation for career advancement, it plays an important role in the retention of employees.

Educational assistance is offered by most companies. Typically reimbursable courses must be job related, career related, or required for the degree. Reimbursement can vary based on grades attained or tuition cost. Many companies set a maximum reimbursement amount.Reimbursements typically include books, lab fees, and other required fees.

A mentor program can be an effective development tool. In a mentor program, a more experienced employee dedicates time to coach, counsel, and guide a less experienced employee, or just makes themselves available to answer questions. Counseling and feedback from a mentor can be less threatening and, therefore, more frequent and constructive, than from a manager. Usually those receiving the mentoring are new to the organization or new to the field (e.g. new college graduates). The mentor/mentoree relationship can continue for a few months or a few years.

Career counseling is another effective developmental tool. Typically the manager is the best career counselor for the employee since the manager can impact work assignments which can foster career development. Employees should be encouraged to explore career interests to help prevent "burn out" or frustration and surprise from reaching a dead end in their career, and to enhance the employee's skills and,therefore, value to the organization. However, the employee needs to understand that he or she is primarily responsible for their career development, not the manager or anyone else. The steps in career counseling include:

  1. Evaluating the employee's interests. Books, workbooks and questionnaires to help evaluate interests are available through libraries, book stores, and consultants.
  2. Evaluate the employees strengths and limitations.
  3. Explore career options and opportunities
  4. Create a career development plan.

The Virtual HR Department - Detailed HR Process Instructions

"The Virtual HR Department" provides detailed step-by-step instructions on how those with HR responsibilities can perform virtually every major task in Human Resources. Here are procedures related to the topics on this page: