Leading manufacturer creates roadmap for performance management success

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Milwaukee-based Jason Inc. is the parent company of four manufacturing businesses that design and manufacture best-in-class products for customers in finishing, seating, components and automotive acoustics. In total, the organization's global family of manufacturing companies employs 3300 people across 13 countries. Jason Inc. follows a unique "collaborative manufacturing" methodology that the company has adopted to out-execute the competition in all areas, from cost and quality to efficiency and innovation.

A core element of Jason Inc.'s collaborative manufacturing strategy is accountability. Having a highly engaged workforce that clearly understands the company's commitments and is focused on delivering on them is critical to the organization's success, growth and sustainability. Jason Inc. recognizes the importance of reinforcing this talent management strategy and has recently taken a first critical step in modernizing its processes — implementing Halogen talent management software.

By implementing Halogen Performance™, the company is already well on its way to:

  • Aligning employees with the organization's mission and values
  • Improving the quality of talent management programs globally
  • Creating a competency model that supports the company's collaborative manufacturing approach and drive for innovation in a competitive market
  • Reducing administrative burden and the time spent by HR on managing the employee appraisal process
  • Streamlining performance management across its four companies with standardized forms, competencies, and measures
  • Fostering improved communication between managers and employees where it was not happening before

One giant step towards greater consistency and accountability

Prior to using Halogen Performance, Jason Inc. was struggling with a cumbersome manual-based employee appraisal process. The HR department was spending the majority of its time managing the appraisal process, including tracking, sending reminders, and collating performance information. "We were relying on an Excel spreadsheet that provided very little rigour or visibility around the appraisal process. It was an entirely manual process with no triggers to keep it moving. As a company focused on continuous improvement, we recognized we had to overhaul the process and move towards one that enabled us to truly reinforce our mission and values and drive greater accountability," explains Jeff Power, Vice President of Human Resources, Jason Inc.

As a parent company of four business units, the Jason Inc. team recognized what it needed to do — standardize the appraisal process across all business units; this included working from a common set of forms and competencies, following consistent processes and focusing on accountability across the board.

Wanted: an automated, easy-to-use talent management solution

In 2011, the Jason Inc. team made the decision to modernize its appraisal process and immediately started looking for a user-friendly, web-based solution that would enable HR and managers to include behavioral competencies and seamlessly add future modules to support other talent management functions, such as pay for performance and succession planning.

Through research, the HR team narrowed the field of vendors to a short list of two: Halogen Software and SuccessFactors. After product demonstrations, question and answer sessions, and a review of customer references, Halogen emerged as the talent management vendor of choice for Jason Inc.

"It was important to us that our talent management vendor was able to meet our specific needs as a manufacturer both now, and in the future," said Power. "It was clear to us that Halogen was aligned and was flexible enough to accommodate our specific needs across all four businesses. We have been very impressed with the quality of Halogen Performance and the service we have received from Halogen."

Maintaining a competitive edge through a cross-company performance strategy

Jason Inc.'s people strategy focuses on using their company scale to attract top talent and reward well and fairly across all companies. To help build and maintain its competitive workforce, Jason Inc. wanted a solution that would let the company easily transfer skill sets between companies and retain high potential employees as career development opportunities came up.

"Our company is committed to providing career growth opportunities for employees between our four businesses," said Power. "We recognized Halogen could help us support our strong coaching culture and to identify and develop high potential talent in support of this commitment. With the Halogen suite we can ensure employees in all four businesses are evaluated using the same tool, process, and core competencies so employees are evaluated equally."

When it came time to implement Halogen Performance, the HR team underwent a process of identifying core competencies for managers and individual contributors that were common across all four businesses. As part of the Halogen implementation, Jason Inc. included Lominger Behavioral Competencies, which integrate seamlessly with Halogen Performance.

Prior to the launch of the new system, employees were trained on how to write self-appraisals, and managers were trained on how to use the solution to write appraisals and manage the performance management process year-round.

Lessons learned from the first performance appraisal process

In early 2012, Jason Inc. launched its first performance appraisal process, and the system was well received by both managers and employees. "Everyone is much more accountable across the organization; appraisals are actually being completed now, and the new system helps support our lean manufacturing culture and commitment to innovation," says Power.

The HR team now has greater visibility into the process and is able to gather data that was previously unavailable from the manual-based appraisal process, such as who their high performers are, where the organization should invest in development and training, and more. The HR team, managers and the executive team have valuable insights that enable them to make better decisions about talent and ensure the company is best able to compete in a tight market. Additionally, the HR team is no longer wasting time on administrative tasks that don't drive value for the organization.

Through this process, the HR team was able to identify additional areas that required attention to support talent management across all four companies: goal setting and the addition of employee profiles. All new employees have been assigned goals, and these goals will be included in next year's annual appraisal process.

The HR team is also encouraging ongoing use of the Halogen solution so performance management becomes a year-round effort. Managers are being reminded to use the system regularly to review development plans and goals, and to make journal notes in Halogen Feedback Central™ to track progress. As a result, employees and managers clearly understand their role in the performance management process and how they are contributing to the organization's success.

Looking at the future

The talent management future for this innovative company looks bright. "We've seen performance management turn into an ongoing day-to-day process across the organization thanks to Halogen," stated Powers. "We are pleased with the shift from the cumbersome manual process to one that is ongoing. Performance management is now aligned to support our mission and values, and truly supports our focus on collaborative manufacturing."

In the future, Jason Inc. will continue to explore other programs to help enhance its performance management process, and Halogen Software will be there every step of the way.