A High-Performer Can't Be a Bully: Evaluating the How

Jan Ritter, Human Resources Strategic Partner, Good Samaritan Society

Jan Ritter, Human Resources Strategic Partner, Good Samaritan Society

In today’s marketplace, feedback is king. A 5-star review is invaluable to any business, especially when the reviewer provides a well-rounded look into an experience with a service, product or staff. Did the service exceed expectations? Was the customer treated with respect? Would they go back or hire the service again? This is what consumers want to know before making a decision. Take a look at this restaurant review example:

“Wonderful food, relaxed atmosphere. Staff are very polite and attentive without being intrusive.”

The review answers questions others may have when looking for a good place to eat. It provides feedback on the outcomes of the service (wonderful food), and also how the staff delivered the service (polite, attentive). The reviewer had a positive experience because the outcomes and the delivery of the outcomes were both high-quality.

"A highly successful employee is expected to deliver results that exceed expectations (the “what”) and also foster collaboration and build strong relationships (the “how”)"

Too often, feedback in the workplace focuses on outcomes alone and ignores how outcomes are reached. Performance evaluations are typically structured to reward budget management, profitability, goal achievement and other performance-related metrics, as they should. But to strip evaluations down only to what is accomplished cheats employees of valuable feedback around how they reach outcomes. When making decisions about services, it’s unlikely we would be loyal to a business that has expertise, but consistently communicates poorly or shows us disrespect. And why would this performance be acceptable for our employees?

In 2018, we asked ourselves this same question, and it resulted in a performance management transformation at the Good Samaritan Society. We rewrote performance evaluations to put more emphasis on how employees demonstrate the Society’s mission through their work. The change means employees receive feedback on their ability to complete tasks, right alongside their ability to exhibit qualities like humility, courage, compassion and acceptance.

Having conversations about these qualities can be difficult, especially if a manager has no framework to guide conversation or evaluate the qualities. To provide this framework, executive leaders developed performance expectations specific to the behaviors that were widely distributed to managers and employees. As an example, a highly successful employee is expected to deliver results that exceed expectations (the “what”) and also foster collaboration and build strong relationships (the “how”). With this tool, employees know what’s expected, what the organization’s standards are, and how to align personal performance goals with organizational goals. Managers are more likely to rate employees’ performance consistently and have a tool to guide performance-related conversations.

Additionally, a new online performance management platform gives employees the technical support they need to successfully set and reach goals. Managers are encouraged to have regular one-on-one development and performance touch points with employees, and both manager and employee can document goal progress within the system throughout the year.

The Good Samaritan Society and Sanford Health merged shortly after the new performance management model was implemented. As the new, combined organization integrates processes, the enterprise is adopting the Society’s performance management structure. This affirms a growing recognition that how employees go about their work is a factor that cannot be ignored if organizations want to give a 360 degree view of performance and success.

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