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How S-M-A-R-T Are You?

It’s that time of year when we ask employees to create their performance objectives. I wish I could say that our employees eagerly anticipate this exercise, like they might their favorite author’s next book hitting the bookstores. But the reality is it’s an important process that we must all endure. However, I feel that we have a system in place that at least makes it easier for our employees. How is it easier? It’s called ePerformance. 

ePerformance is an online tool that provides an effective way for employees to not only set objectives, but to also formulate a development plan and track their progress throughout their careers. I guess you can say we’re moving performance management into the 21st century.  

We started with a pilot program in 2007 with 1,300 employees who previewed the tool for a year. Even though we felt the tool was intuitive, we hosted demonstration sessions with the pilot group to help get them better acquainted with the application.  

What did we learn from the pilot? Employees, including managers, felt that the performance management process was much more streamlined. For example, managers can cascade their objectives to their direct reports. Alignment is always a good thing! Employees can then review them to gain a better understanding of their manager’s focus. In turn, employees can create objectives that are aligned with the goals of their department. Additionally, employees can keep better track of how they are meeting their objectives. Finally, because our industry can shift quickly, this tool helps us update objectives during the year if priorities should change and allows for instant feedback.  

What about development plans? Yes, employees can create and track them, too — all in one tool. Oh. I have to mention that employees also liked the idea of eliminating paper, as it’s more environmentally friendly. 

It’s been a year since we launched the tool to all employees, and we’ve already made enhancements to it. This is something we will continuously do. So, gone are the days of gathering performance feedback via e-mails. Instead, we’ve added a new functionality to ePerformance that allows managers and employees to gather feedback on performance from peers, direct reports, internal customers and project team members. The functionality allows employees to select specific objectives as well as competencies that they’d like rated. Managers and employees can view a consolidated report of all the feedback, and incorporate it into an annual review.  

My company is about making it easier — not just for our customers, but for employees too. It’s about truly living our brand. While this is just a snapshot of ePerformance’s capabilities, there’s much more. I’m interested in hearing your ideas about the performance management process. What’s working, what’s not working, and have you found the magic to helping your organization really embrace being Specific-Measurable-Aligned-Results oriented-Time bound?