Transformed performance reviews through quality feedback

Community Care Inc. made a smooth transition to Halogen Software’s talent management suite, thanks to Halogen Implementation Specialist, Bev. She made sure Community Care Inc. knew how to use the software and introduced the organization to best practices to improve the quality of its performance evaluations.

Based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Community Care Inc. provides long-term health care for older adults and adults with physical, intellectual or development disabilities. Its member-centered focus enables individuals to stay in their community rather than move into a healthcare facility.

To deliver on its mission, Community Care realized that it needed to do more than standardize its talent management processes — it also needed to make those processes part of the organization's overall culture.

Community Care focused on six key areas:

  1. Aligning goals
  2. Delivering effective feedback
  3. Nurturing development
  4. Creating a systematic review process
  5. Reviewing the employee performance rating system
  6. Revising compensation plans

With the help of Halogen Performance™, Halogen Learning™ and Halogen Job Description Builder™ Community Care has overhauled its talent management strategy and created a performance-based culture.

Now, each employee is accountable for delivering results that are directly tied to the organization’s big picture goals. Employees are recognized and rewarded for going above and beyond to contribute value to their department and to the organization overall.

Re-imagining performance

Community Care’s talent management strategy has come a long way in three years since partnering with Halogen Software. The organization used to have a paper-driven talent management process that resulted in many inconsistencies in how employee reviews were performed and how employee performance was rated and compensated. There was no clear definition of what “high performance” meant or what manager expectations were, so there was little accountability for employees.

“Managers didn’t like the old system and many didn’t do performance evaluations,” says Sherrice Gilcreast, Chief Human Resources Officer, Community Care. “Employees weren’t happy because some of them hadn’t been given a performance evaluation or a raise in two years. The old system didn’t give managers a way to set clear goals or expectations. It affected morale. On a scale of 1-10, we were sitting around a five.”

With 17 locations in 10 counties, Community Care’s HR department knew they needed a more comprehensive system that would improve the administrative aspect and shift the mindset about how talent management best practices can support the not-for-profit deliver on its mission.

Aligning goals

One of the first things the HR department at Community Care realized they had to do was take a closer look at its goal-setting practices. Through an employee survey, focus groups and individual interviews, employees had shown that they wanted a better understanding of how their role affects the organization

The organization introduced the idea of specific, measurable, aligned, realistic and time-bound (SMART) goals. They then broke down how individual employee goals contribute to departmental goals, which in turn support Community Care’s overall strategy.

“We really talked to people about the business drivers behind performance management and then introduced the technology that would help us manage everything,” says Gilcreast. “That approach worked for us because everyone had a better understanding of how their role contributed to the strategic focus of the business, so they were more engaged in learning the software and realizing our goals.”

HR also learned that they needed to be flexible in order to build consistency across their organization while meeting the priorities and practices of different departments. In order to do this, the organization created a steering and design team that included business leaders and representatives from key departments, so everyone felt they had a say in the changes that were happening. Regular surveys and leadership meetings during the roll-out of new processes also helped keep them on track. This helped Community Care’s executive team ensure there was “on the ground” support for executing on its plans.

Mastering feedback

Another issue Community Care had to tackle was the lack of communication within the organization. With many managers not completing performance evaluations, there was little to no feedback and virtually no chance for employees to learn and develop.

Halogen helped Community Care revamp its performance management strategy by putting the focus on having conversations rather than relying on a paper process. In addition, Community Care managers signed up with Halogen’s Certain to Succeed™ program for customized training on how they can effectively provide meaningful feedback to employees. This training also included 30-60-and 90-day follow-up, as well as a mid-year check in. It stressed the importance for managers to make sure performance information and feedback is well-known to employees so there are no surprises during a year-end review.

“We realized that if we’re really pushing for people to give more feedback, we needed to make sure they understand why feedback is so important, and teach people how to receive that feedback,” says Gilcreast. “When we did that, we found that our employees were more receptive to the feedback they were getting, and were more active in giving feedback to their peers.”

The organization also benefited from Feedback Central, which helps easily gather feedback from employees, managers and clients and link it to other talent processes, including performance reviews, training and development.

Before Halogen, it was standard for managers to rate employees a 3 out of 5. It was the generic “good but not great” and didn’t really provide employees with much insight into their performance or understanding of what they needed to do to improve.

Now, managers are giving a more realistic distribution of performance ratings and are clear about why the rating was given. It’s also made it easier for the organization to give merit increases to top performers. Conversations between managers and employees have now shifted from discussing activities to talking about contributions and results.

Beyond implementation success

Community Care took advantage of Halogen’s world-class customer service to ensure it wasn’t just using new software – the HR department made sure they were creating a whole new understanding of what it meant to engrain talent management best practices as part of its corporate culture.

“Having a support team like Halogen that has expertise in the system and is familiar with talent management strategies really helped us achieve our goals,” says Gilcreast. “We had a great implementation specialist named Bev who helped us make key decisions about how to maximize the performance management system and what our culture needed to improve from a talent management perspective. Bev introduced best practices to us and really partnered with us to ensure a smooth implementation. I felt like she wanted us to succeed and took pride in all of our victories.”

That personalized assistance was vital to Community Care’s success with Halogen Performance. It’s part of Halogen’s Certain to Succeed services, which not only includes 24/7 customer support, but also customized training and resources to help grow and develop talent management programs well beyond the implementation stage. 

“In the past when our organization invested in a large system, there was a tendency to spend a lot of time in the implementation phase, and then once everything was set up, that was it. We didn’t look into other ways the system could help us,” says Gilcreast. “Halogen’s focus on continuous advancement was wonderful because it helped us take full advantage of the technology and get the most out of our talent management strategies.”

By using Halogen Performance, Community Care was able to improve employees’ job satisfaction, productivity and retention rates. In recognition of its commitment to employees, Community Care earned the Dazzling Implementation Award at the 2013 Bright Lights awards ceremony held during Halogen’s customer conference.

Seeing results

As with any not-for-profit organization – or any organization for that matter – budgets are always tight. Getting a CEO or a board of directors to see the value of a talent management strategy can be difficult. Once the system is in place, however, executives will see that it is money well spent.

“The first year was a big change for us because we implemented three modules all at the same time,” Gilcreast admits. “The second year was better and now as we’re moving into our third review process period. Employees are convinced that moving to Halogen Software was a good decision. Sometimes it’s hard to put dollars and cents to talent management, but Halogen helped us see a return on our investment. With their ongoing customer support and Continuous Advancement services, Halogen is also helping us improve on that ROI, which is outstanding.”

Executives at Community Care also appreciate the performance metrics that HR can access through Halogen. It allows them to see how they’re progressing, what areas still need work, and if additional learning and development programs are needed.

The results so far have been impressive: There has a been a more realistic distribution of performance ratings, top performers are getting the recognition and compensation they deserve, and managers are making significant gains in terms of giving feedback and coaching employees. With the help of Halogen, Gilcreast says the organization will continue to work on refining communication and building a culture of trust and openness.

“Halogen really brings best practices to the table,” says Gilcreast. “They are truly interested in helping you develop a great talent management strategy to move your business forward.”