One-Person HR Department: Performance Management Tips

Human Resources Leadership

We hear it all of the time with many of our clients. “I am the HR team.”

How many of you find yourself in this position? Either you are an HR team of one, or your team is very small and therefore your plates are quite full. 

You are not alone. 

In fact, a large number of our clients are in the same boat as you.

How does a small yet mighty HR team effectively lead performance management

Assuming performance management is highly valued at your organization, we want to provide you with tangible best practices for how the ‘HR team of one’ can realistically implement a relevant, successful program for all. 

If you or someone on your team needs a bit more convincing as to why performance management should be a top HR priority, check out this webinar


Whether you want to implement a full-blown performance management program or you are simply adjusting the current process, it may feel like a daunting task. Simplicity is key.

For starters, the world has moved away from paper performance and into the digital age. An easy-to-use digital tool solves many issues. It is more attractive to younger generations, it is significantly easier to document and store ongoing data, and it allows for automation of previously manual processes. 

Here are our best recommendations for how an HR team of one can practically implement a performance management program that fits your organization’s culture and needs.

1. Make a List of Greatest Needs and Wants

Whether you choose to invite a select few of your key stakeholders, or you roll out an all-employee survey, gathering data on the biggest performance management needs of your organization is a good first step. This may reveal gaps or barriers to success you had not yet thought of. Not to mention, polling people up front is an easy way to encourage them to take ownership of the process when their name has been attached to it.

2. Select a Pilot Group

Many of our clients choose to test out their new and improved program by engaging a small sample of people in their organization. This approach allows for the chosen few to fully take part in the program, provide honest feedback, and work out any kinks you may have not prepared for. Empowering a small group of people on the front end ensures they are much more likely to be champions of the new process when you roll it out enterprise wide. 

3. Pick One or Two Things to Focus On

Often our clients come to us already overwhelmed with the thought of having to implement a performance management program that is inclusive of everything from performance reviews and 360 degree feedback to surveys and leadership succession planning tools. 

Our recommendation? Pick one or two things to focus on instead, at least in the beginning.

We often suggest implementing our Check-In and Recognition features to get your new performance management program off the ground. 

The Check-In is designed to be a high-level coaching conversation that occurs throughout the performance review cycle. It was created as a tool to help Managers facilitate brief, documented conversations that focus on appreciation and coaching. When done consistently and correctly, it can help eliminate crucial conversations, as well as shock and surprise for the Employee at performance review time.

Our Recognition feature allows anyone in the company to recognize any other team member, regardless of position, department, location, etc. A simple recognition tool encourages all Employees to recognize their colleagues for displaying behaviors that are in line with the core values of the organization. What gets recognized gets repeated.  It is also a great way to bring people together while working in a remote world. 

4. Partner with an Expert

When implementing any of our Performance Culture System features, we recommend partnering with one of our Onboarding Consultants.  These performance management experts are trained to walk you through the entire implementation process while also taking the time to get to know the culture of your organization. As any HR team of one knows, the more help you have, the better!

The Performance Review

The dreaded performance review. Except, it does not have to be!

We have heard many of our clients say something along the lines of, “Our current performance review takes too long and everyone hates it. But I am not sure how to change it.” A review that is cumbersome and causes eye rolls from either Employees, Managers, or both, is no longer providing value. The ideal review is empowering and helpful, and really should be a summary of conversations Managers are already  having with Employees all year long. 

Here are our best recommendations for utilizing a performance review your team members will find engaging.

1. Keep it Simple

If you are starting from scratch with the performance review like many of our clients, we often suggest creating a review that can be applicable to the whole organization. Making performance metrics vague enough to apply to all is a great way to simply get started and get people used to the new way of things. Setting the expectation from the beginning that the new review process will not be perfect is ok! These things take time, and giving the organization room to make a few mistakes and reevaluate is more than acceptable.

2. Less is More

While all organizations and the roles / positions within them are different, keeping performance metrics to a minimum keeps people focused and allows the review process to be more amenable. 

We recommend 3-5 performance objectives for each Employee, as long as those objectives are well defined and laser focused so there is no question as to how to meet and exceed expectations. 

We also recommend 5-7 core values as a way of measuring workplace behaviors and cultural fit. For more information on why the Performance Culture System measures both objectives and core values, read this case study


Incorporating a successful performance management program as an HR team of one is certainly a feat to be celebrated. But how do you ensure it does not grow stale?

Performance management must fit into your natural workflows to remain relevant.

If you are attempting to force fit a square peg into a round hole, the program will never truly grow with your organization and internal champions of it will be few and far in between. 

Here are our best recommendations for sustainability of the performance management process.

1. Attach it to Workflows That Already Exist

For example, let’s say your Managers are already meeting once every month or so with their direct reports to discuss performance, goals, etc. Managers can add on an extra 15 minutes to that previously scheduled meeting to go over more high-level coaching for the Employee that is not necessarily performance based or task oriented. This shows the Employee their Manager cares about them as an individual and creates organic conversation around personal and professional development.

Perhaps you need a way to gauge the engagement and satisfaction level of your employees on a consistent basis. Our Performance Review Software gives you the option to include a Workplace Satisfaction section already baked inside the self-assessment. This section ultimately produces a report of the entire organization so you, the HR team of one, can use that data to make decisions and address issues. 

2. Find Your Champions and Use Them

Every organizational change comes with skeptics. You will likely have a handful of people in the company who are not fans of the new performance management process for one reason or another. However, there is also always a handful of internal champions who believe in the process and clearly see the bottom line value it provides. Our recommendation is to use these people to your advantage.

Recognize them publicly for a job well done in implementing the new program. Allow them to lead training sessions when rolling out to the whole population. Use them as the example of how to do it right in the appropriate settings.

Tackling a new performance management software and program is not an easy task, especially for the HR team of one. But it does not have to be over complicated, and you do not have to do it alone!

Interested in learning more about how to implement Performance Culture at your organization? Request a demo now!


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