The Most Infinite Possibility:
Being An HR Hero
Copyright 2014, iSi Human Resources Consulting. All rights reserved.
“Conferences like this one…
Are always energizing and fun but I have been to enough of them
to know that they rarely change how Human Resources
departments actually function back in the real world. I would like
to think that this year’s theme, “Infinite Possibilities,” might signal
an opportunity to truly impact how we assist and support our
business partners back home. So instead of simply giving you a
copy of my PowerPoint presentation, I prefer to have you leave my
session with five slides you can share with your management
team upon return to the office on Monday. These fives slides, a
mini-white paper, represent the very heart of the matter, asking
and answering the question: how can you and your HR
department be HEROES in your organizations? I believe that it is
possible; and that it can begin with how we administer
performance appraisals. Thank you for your time and interest and
please contact me if I can be of assistance.”
Fact One- We Are Broken
• Traditional, annual performance assessment does not work. It is an expensive
consumer of managerial time with the average Fortune 500 manager spending
somewhere between 200 and 400 hours per year on the process. The return-on-
investment (ROI) for that time? Most managers will tell you that they do it because it
is required by HR and that there is little value in the process.
• Employees are skeptical. A recent survey shows that 50% of employees do not
believe that their annual appraisals provide them with honest feedback that actually
helps them improve their performance.
• Eighty-five percent of companies surveyed said that their current performance
management systems were only “moderately effective.” How would any business
perform with a sales force or production line that was only “moderately effective?” We
are failing our clients by not offering a better solution.
Fact Two- HR Refuses to See It
• 98% of the Fortune 500 conduct some version of traditional, annual performance
appraisal, in spite of the statistics cited in Fact One, the first slide. Why? Probably
because we, as HR departments, have not offered a better solution.
• In spite of all of the research and anecdotal data telling us that this is a “bad” process,
we continue journal articles, training classes, and social media saying that we just
need to: train our managers more thoroughly, get them on-board with the process,
make it matter to them, provide feedback more frequently, set better goals, hold
people more accountable, have employees take more ownership, and so on and so on
and so on. The problem is that we have been saying the same things for the past 30
years and conditions have not improved. There is no reason to believe they will in the
• The most astounding fact is that Human Resources departments, by and large,
believe that their process is working!
Fact Three- We Are Data Hypocrites
• In our Employee Relations role, what is the first thing we ask of our managers who
want to terminate an employee? The documentation, right? We need the data that
shows us which standards the employee has fallen short of or which policy they have
violated. What data do we have to show how well our traditional, annual performance
appraisal process is working? Do we know how much time, expense, and lost
opportunity our managers expend in our current process? Do we know if the process
actually improves employee performance? Do we know the ROI for our process?
• There is a great deal of emphasis these days on HR “Big Data,” the statistical
information about people related issues and its impact on profit and productivity. Most
companies spend lots of time on the employment process as “time to fill an open
requisition” is an easy, empirical calculation. Why would we not apply that same
discipline to employee performance evaluations? I believe that the “Big Data” will
show that the ROI for this process falls woefully short.
• So how do you know what you know? How do REALLY know if your
process is effective?
Fact Four- There Are Alternatives
• Be careful. If you research alternative systems on the Internet, you will likely find that
most are simply automated versions of the same, old, tired process. They do speed
up the process but by the time you factor-in software cost and training, the ROI for the
process does not actually improve.
• Many experts advise the totally elimination of the process. Most legal and HR
departments do not support this view as they prefer documentation for employment
• Big Five Performance Management is an effective, creative, cost effective hybrid of
the two philosophies above. See www.bigfiveperformance.com to learn more or
contact Roger Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fact Five- You Can Be An HR Hero
• You don’t have to adopt Big Five Performance Management to be an HR hero in your
organization. And if you do want to install Big Five, you can probably do it without the
help of a consultant. But think about it. Of all the functions and services HR provides
for internal clients (employment, payroll, benefits, employee relations, talent
development, succession planning, etc.) where is the largest opportunity to make
improvements that actually help our organizations make money, save money, or save
time? Performance Management is the low hanging fruit—the process that is most
likely in need of the most change and, in my opinion, the most easily changed.
• Don’t be a proponent of a broken system. No one is buying it. Be a hero!
iSi Human Resources Consulting
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