Class notes - week seven, Fall 2017

It was another week of top quality learning at the Humphrey School. In Strategic Planning we heard from a great guest speaker and did a competency mapping activity. In Strategic Human Resources Management we had a robust discussion about performance appraisals.

Table of contents

Today was my daughter’s third birthday. I took a PTO day at work and we all went to the Como Zoo, where we’ve visited on all of her birthdays. It’s a fun tradition and the progression of photos is great. Afterwards we came home, and while she slept my spouse and I wrapped presents and prepared a nice birthday dinner. Right now they’re in bed as I’m cleaning up downstairs. It’s not unusual to take a break from cleaning up to tackle an assigned reading or write a blog entry, like this one. But I need to keep it brief tonight. I still need to put the CSA veggies away, get the garbage cans out to the curb, and go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Notes from Strategic Planning

This week’s SP class featured a guest speaker who previously worked for 20 years for a consulting firm which did public sector strategy and visioning. They now work in a senior leadership role for a large nonprofit after having consulted with them to help craft their strategic plan. Now in charge of executing on strategy from the inside.

guest speaker notes redacted

The second half of class was a short lecture by Prof Bryson, followed by an activity where we mapped competencies onto a causal map from the week four purpose mapping activity.

  • Livelihood schemes
  • Most strategies in strategic plans are a hierarchy of actions. What’s left out are the competencies to follow through on those actions.
  • Competency to engage in inquiry is a crucial skill
  • If you’re going to succeed and be self-sustaining, you have to be better at things than other organizations are.
  • Having a competency that’s not linked to an aspiration doesn’t do you much good. Livelihood schemes try to sort the competencies out to determine which ones are really crucial.
  • What guest speaker was talking about in terms of sharpening the mission was making the mission distinctive
  • Livelihood scheme starts with a purpose expansion, adds the competencies required

Notes from Strategic Human Resources Management

  • Tonight’s question: Should performance appraisals be used, and if so how?
  • What is the difference between training and development?
    • Training is specific to task or job at hand; development builds competencies
  • Which is more important?
    • Various perspectives, depends on situation
  • “When you train someone teach them the how .. when you teach someone you show them the why.
  • Training is transactional, which is important, similar though to difference between management and leadership. Management can be trained
  • Key aspects of training and development:
    • Needs assessment
    • Training and development objectives
    • Develop curriculum
    • Deliver
    • Evaluate
  • Most popular training methods from McKinsey 2010 study:
    1. On the job teaching
    2. Formal/informal mentoring
    3. Individual learning online
  • Performance evaluation as a tool
    • Organization wants some sense that there’s fairness occurring
    • Provides essential information for making personnel decisions
    • Class discussion - importance of objective measures of success in the performance eval process. Important to have goals defined at beginning of the year. Then even if a manager changes, the yardsticks remain in place to measure performance.
    • If we think of performance appraisals as a process rather than an event, maybe we’ll be better off
  • There are situations where an employee does not make sufficient progress on correcting performance issues, and should be let go after progressive warning
  • “One bad apple spoils the barrel” – If you allow a poor performer to continue, it says to the organization that you don’t really care about performance.
  • Why are performance appraisals important?
    1. Formal communication about job performance
    2. Can reinforce “integrity” and “openness” as organization values
    3. Can be a key part of performance management system - is the organization being served?
    4. Critical to employee development - is the employee being served?
  • Should you do development planning at the same time as the performance appraisal?
    • Might be that if done concurrently, sends a message that it’s just a required thing that the manager doesn’t truly care about.
    • Class feedback - if done at the same time, might steer more focus to the things that are wrong than than things that are right, and therefore diminish impact of development.
  • 360 reviews:
    • Time consuming
    • Reciprocity - don’t want to give someone a bad rating for fear they’ll give you one
    • Good to do periodically - every several years as a check in
    • Helps reinforce messages - one thing if your boss says it, another to hear the message coming from colleagues
  • If performance data isn’t useful then stop collecting it
  • Eight recommendations for performance evaluation:
    • Everyone must understand the evaluation system
    • Assess effectiveness of the current system
      • Who should assess this? Traditionally it’s HR. Suggest that it should be everyone
    • Train evaluators
    • Increase managers desire to conduct effective evaluations
    • Start with effective performance planning
    • Make informal evaluations ongoing
    • Provide resources to link pay to performance
    • Use employee anniversary dates to stagger evaluations
      • Healthy discussion on this point. Generally feel better to do them all at the same time in a cycle
  • A bad manager is someone who you don’t know where you stand with them
  • It’s hard to have a merit based system with a forced distribution
  • Evaluating on demonstrated ability to learn - in part based on how long in the job
  • Ability to learn is a competence, which impacts a person’s ability to grow
  • Give people responsibility to go above-and-beyond to add value to the organization
  • You really need to work to create the right setting if you want to encourage honest employee-to-supervisor feedback
Written on October 19, 2017