Blake Wise is all about relationships. When you listen to Blake talk about people, it’s clear that he genuinely enjoys helping people succeed. And if you listen to Blake talk long enough, you can pick up on how important it is for him to really get to know people, to understand what motivates them and inspires them to be great.
His views about relationships show in the HR practices that have made a big difference for employees at Belco Credit Union and its members.
The importance of relationships
Blake Wise, Senior HR and Training Specialist
Belco Credit Union
Blake joined Belco in 2008 as an HR representative and he’s since moved up through the ranks since to become the Senior HR and Training Specialist. He believes HR is the liaison between employees and management, playing an important role in maintaining good relationships as everyone works together on their individual goals to help the business.
“People traditionally have a bad view of HR. If HR is showing up, something’s not good. I want to change that opinion amongst employees,” says Blake. “Trust, reliability and transparency are key, but you can’t just say these things. You have to actually live it for people to believe it’s real.”
The difference with Halogen Software
Before Belco started using Halogen for performance management, the process was subjective and time-consuming. Reviews were completed in a document that had broad groupings of performance categories. Managers had one-on-one meetings with employees, but there was no standard process or template. Feedback went one way and there wasn’t much engagement in the process from employees.
Since implementing Halogen, Belco has helped build solid relationships between people throughout the company. The nature of Belco’s business makes a more personal connection valuable – internally with staff and externally with members. Halogen has helped all staff to get the best of both worlds and give people the opportunity to build their skills communicating through the use of technology and in person.
Helping people own their performance
Halogen’s one-on-one meetings functionality supports Belco’s philosophy around building relationships. Belco has put expectations in place for people that let them take on a bigger role in their performance. All employees are expected to meet with their manager for a one-on-one at least once a month. But they’re also expected to use the system in between meetings to document their progress by adding two items of feedback a week and make updates to goals every month. The goal is to also have individuals contribute 60 percent of content and have 40 percent come from others.
“The great thing about using Halogen to give and receive feedback is that it gives employees direct control of their performance,” says Blake, “When training new employees on how to use Halogen, my question to them is always ’Who knows the most about your work on a day-to-day basis?’ This helps employees embrace the opportunity to proactively contribute to the development of their one-on-one meeting agenda and annual performance review conversation.”
Part of this process of encouraging people to use Halogen is helping them learn how to give valuable feedback related to the work they do. By doing this, people can see how they’re progressing in building skills within the core competencies.
And since feedback tends to focus on the positive, people are asked by their supervisors to think about one thing they can improve on each month and ask for help from someone who can support them on that item. It’s created the opportunity for conversations that support and uplift employees in a way that gives them confidence to tackle challenges.
How do the employees feel about all this? Blake says the feedback has been good. “People appreciate the ability to meet with their manager absolutely every month. They can meet more often, but getting a meeting regularly wasn't guaranteed before. Now it is.”
And the 98-99 percent one-on-one completion rate each month is just one example of how well it’s working.
The proof is in the engagement
One of the challenges under Belco’s previous performance review system was getting them completed on time. It was an ongoing struggle to have them completed no more than a month late. With the new system, performance reviews are being submitted on time, every time.
“We’re a leader in performance now locally. It’s exciting for employees to be able to provide their input and communicate about performance regularly with their supervisor.”
Not only are people more engaged with their performance and talking to their managers, they’re just more engaged at work. You can’t miss Blake’s pride that Belco has exceeded three-year engagement goals in their last employee satisfaction survey. Belco’s employee engagement is at 76 percent, up five points from 2015 and exceeding the average level of engagement among employees in the United States.
Keep on getting better
Belco has made remarkable strides in helping people be their best and building solid relationships. Communication between senior management, supervisors, and employees has improved. Leaders are performing better in their role. Job satisfaction is up, as well.
But Blake isn’t done.
As people continue to use the system as part of their day-to-day work, he’s committed – and Belco is committed – to making sure they keep improving the quality of feedback, one-on-ones and performance reviews.
After all, Blake’s all about relationships. He knows that the effort that’s gone into improving these all-important relationships will continue to grow and help the people at Belco thrive.