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PHOTO: James Pond
As an HR professional, it goes without saying you want the best for your company’s people. But it’s difficult to get programs and processes perfect from the offset. It’s a journey discovering which of your current practices are working, establishing what more is needed, and taking the right steps towards where you want to be.

Too often, HR technology solutions become overwhelming, offering a huge array of functions which don't necessarily reflect where your company is and where it's headed. If you want to focus on implementing efficient practices, or improving a handful of specific things within your company, it’s highly unlikely you’ll need a toolbox full of complex features on day one.

It’s time for personalized, relevant solutions with an understanding of your needs. But first, the key is identifying your needs and understanding how they can be met through technology and processes.

We’ve identified three key questions to help you establish HR goals and how to achieve them:

  • Where are you today?
  • What do you need?
  • How can you get there?

Where Are You Today?

The first step is to assess what you’re currently doing. What practices are in place, what’s working, and what isn’t being utilized?

We speak with a number of HR professionals every day, across a wide range of company profiles and HR teams. We've found that in general, companies fit into the following stages, typically starting with stage one and progressing to three.

  • Stage 1: Establish fundamental HR processes.
  • Stage 2: Increase adoption and data gathering.
  • Stage 3: Become a strategic business partner.

We’ve outlined the three categories below so you can identify where your business falls.

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1.  Establishing Fundamental HR Processes

Businesses in this category are often looking to build, simplify or automate an end-to-end performance review process that’s effective for everyone.

You are most likely here if:

  • End of year performance conversations feel like a surprise.
    • Your company doesn’t yet have a performance review process in place.
  • Or your current process takes longer than you’d like. You spend countless hours …
    • Coming up with the right questions.
    • Crafting and sending out communications.
    • Chasing people to complete.
    • Collecting and distributing responses.   
  • You struggle with participation and getting buy-in for your process.
    • Managers and individuals complain about how much time and effort your current process takes.
    • Individuals and managers say they don’t get clear value from the process.
    • Managers aren’t consistently having follow-up conversations after reviews.
    • You’re not gathering data over time to improve your processes moving forward.  
  • You and the team are spread thin and you’re looking to ensure your new and improved process works for everyone.

2.  Increasing Adoption and Data Gathering

At this stage, you’re likely already running some sort of performance review process, and have some foundations in place. You’re looking to optimize and expand your strategy to include more than just the basics. You are considering goal-setting, light-weight performance check-ins, creating a 1:1 process, and increasing the amount of  feedback exchanged. The shifting company culture demands you focus more time on individual development and enablement.

You are here if:

  • Your company is quickly growing or changing and your practices need to keep up so you can recruit and retain top talent.
    • You run bi-annual or more regular performance reviews and the participation rates are respectable.
    • Review questions don’t currently generate feedback that supports individual development.
    • You’ve got roles and responsibilities in place and want to support people with developing skills and competencies needed to succeed.
  • You’ve got many first-time managers and you want to support their development.
    • Managers and individuals have irregular or ineffective 1:1s and check-ins.
    • People are struggling to see how their work contributes to team or business objectives.
    • People are increasingly asking for feedback and you’re interested in how real-time feedback can help shape your company’s culture.  
  • You and your HR team are still swamped and struggle with priorities.
    • You aren’t yet fully utilizing data and analytics to help shape priorities.
    • You want to focus more on employee engagement and are perhaps interested in using engagement surveys beyond setting a baseline.

3. Becoming a Strategic Business Partner

HR professionals or teams who find themselves in this category will likely already have several performance and development programs in place. What they are looking for is to further optimize their processes and become a more data-driven function that can better support business objectives.

You have an established feedback culture if:

  • You are accountable to reporting on the impact of HR programs through metrics and KPIs.
    • You’ve got processes in place but recognize that different teams have different needs.
    • You’re starting to gather and track data and are interested in learning how to apply it to improve your processes.
    • You observe best practices happening across the company but struggle to scale them.
    • Business objectives are clear and you want to ensure they can be connected to individual goals.
  • You need to stay strategic while ensuring the rest of the HR team has what they need to do their jobs effectively
    • Your HR practices need to include career and succession planning.
    • You’re interested in leadership development and want to implement better coaching and mentoring programs company-wide.
    • While you have some recognition programs in place, when things get busy they fall by the wayside.

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What Do You Need?

Once you've established where you currently stand, you'll need to establish the unique goals and areas of focus for your organization. These will vary depending on the nature of your business, the size of the company, and of course, what works for your people.

A big part of working out exactly what your first steps should be can be achieved simply by listening and reflecting. Is there something missing from your current practices, or is it more a case of too much going on, causing lack of focus? Are things having the impact you want? One way to finding this out is simple: ask! Listen to what people think about current practices and what would improve them. Do you often hear people complaining around performance review time? Do people dread them, think they’re pointless or a waste of time, or repeatedly express any other kind of repeated issue? These can all be clear signs that things need to change.

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How Can You Get There?

Changing the way people work isn’t easy. It can be difficult to get people on board, especially when they’ve become so used to current practices. So it’s good to introduce new things in stages. Think of your HR practices as building blocks, and slowly add in the things that work. If you’re realistic about where you currently stand, know what you need, and are ready to implement and communicate changes with your people, you’re ready to take HR to the next level.