Are you, just like me, already having some work experience and are you as well looking up every consecutive year against the appraisal cycle? Not because you’re “afraid” of the result, but just because you’re having this same similar feeling, that this assessment is largely dependent on your ability to deliver quality and on time? That it’s mainly focusing on the down sides so therefore on your weaknesses? And that getting feedback only once a year, is not really helping you in further developing your career? In other words: having your review or not, there’s not a lot that will really change. In the end it’s only you who can make an extra effort to self-improve… If you’re reading this and you can completely relate, hopefully I can give you some ideas in this article on how different these appraisal cycles can be.
But first, let me introduce myself
Already 7 years ago, I started working as a consultant for Keyrus. I just got my graduate in “Information management and systems” with a specialisation in Business Intelligence. I did my internship at Keyrus, and as I liked the company, I agreed to sign a permanent contract as a BI consultant. Wow, what a big step this was in my life, and what a big adventure was laying in front of me! This soon became very clear.
As being a consultant, normally I should have been sent directly to clients on a client’s mission. Fortunately, Keyrus HR told me that I could start with an IBO program of the VDAB. This implied that I could stay at the Keyrus offices for 3 more months. During this period I would be getting all sorts of training courses, without the need to be already sent “out in the field”. I very much liked the idea and agreed on this. I got training courses in all sorts of BI tools, but also in soft- and communication skills. Soon, I was ready to start my first client mission as a Junior. Exciting!
I was very fortunate to end up in a big team with a mix of Keyrus and other consultants at my first mission. They helped me out a lot and guided me with my first steps in the BI world. As Keyrus didn’t assigned me an official coach back then, it was my project manager who took on that role for me. He did a great job, it was a real enrichment to work side by side with someone who had tons of experience. It motivated me to learn and to grow.
After my fist long mission, I ended up in a much smaller company and therefore also in a much smaller team. We were just 2 young Keyrus consultants. This is where I got to know the side of consultancy where you are just on your own to resolve problems. It was totally different from my first mission, but I never regretted ending up there. I was challenged a lot and eventually it felt like I grew even faster than before on my first mission. Although, I got the feeling that the on-the-job colleague support I experienced before, was more an exception to the rule. To learn on the job was how it mostly worked.
After these missions, a lot of others yet followed but my general feeling didn’t really change. In these first years, I only saw someone of Keyrus once a year for our famous “appraisal” or performance review cycle. During that meeting, I talked to someone of HR who, in my opinion, didn’t really had a clue of what I was doing day to day at the client side, and who didn’t fully understand what I was sometimes trying to explain. My use of words got to technical and I had the feeling he/she couldn’t fully identify with me. Which actually makes perfect sense! HR people mostly don’t have a technical background and didn’t ever fulfilled the same role as we consultants do. The result? The conversation remained rather superficial by mainly discussing:
- the feedback Keyrus got of our clients (again, focusing on the weaknesses if there were)
- where we see ourselves in 1 year and
- putting some static objectives.
Don’t get me wrong, I always had the feeling I could contact colleagues if there was a problem, or if I wanted to discuss a topic with HR, they were always open for discussion. But a good practical elaboration left something to be desired.
And then came… Agile Performance Management
It was clear, for me (and as I could hear from other colleagues as well) there needed to be put in place a more dynamic review cycle which could evolve and adapt according to the changing environment. Thus my employer Keyrus introduced Agile Performance Management. Agile WHAT?!? Well, that was my first reaction as well, but… I have to admit that, now almost a year later, the evolution we’ve been through really pays off.
So what has changed specifically? Most importantly, we work with check-in cycles. So no longer only a yearly gather, no we have regular check-ins whenever we want. No obligations, but when you have the need to discuss anything, you can request a check-in with your team leader.
With whom do you have your check-in? This is no longer someone of HR, but a pre-assigned team leader or coach. For me personally, it’s a colleague with whom I worked with at my very first mission. Back then, he did exactly the same job as I do nowadays. And now, more than 7 years later, he’s a Keyrus manager and coaches a small team of people working in the same domain. Ideal! Someone who can perfectly relate with me and vice versa J
How do we request a check-in? Well, this new tool INTUO was introduced by HR. The inventors like to call their tool a “talent enablement platform”. In the tool, as your classified in teams, you can directly organise a next check-in. When your coach then opens the tool, he gets an invite and voilà. Super easy!
Also, you can give and request your colleagues for feedback, you can send praises, your company can start (satisfaction) surveys to gauge people for their opinion. Also everyone (so also the managers and even the CEO) should put their objectives so they’re transparent for the whole company. And as you have regular check-ins, these objectives can be easily updated as the environment is changing constantly, for example when you change a mission, etc.
Where and when do we have check-ins? Well some good news… As I already mentioned, a check-in is never an obligation, yes! If you’re for example on a long term mission, it’s possible not a lot of things will change in your environment, so less check-ins are needed. But the opposite is of course also true. If you’re searching for a change in your career or are having some doubts, having regular chats with your coach can already clarify some things in your head. Me personally, I try to see my coach every quarter, this seems to work out good for us both. And where do we meet? Well also totally up to us… If we prefer a bar or a lunch in a fancy restaurant rather than a dusty office, well we do so!
Finally, the 5 things which changed the most for me personally.
· As I talk with a “real” coach now, I get a lot more tips and tricks on what can help me on my day to day job. Mostly he experienced some similar issues or asked himself the same questions in the past, so all these small practical tips are more than welcome!
· It’s much more realistic now objectives are editable. They’re effectively worked on, they evolve and they are eventually obtained.
· I have the feeling there’s a much better follow-up. Potential problems can be detected sooner, observation is done much more closely and we can react rapidly.
· I’m being challenged more. My coach comes with propositions like: what do you think of this training? Don’t you think this or this specific subject is something for you? Eventually, he already knows me for a couple of years so J
· There are a lot more action points in both ways. Before, it was only me receiving feedback, but now we also discuss for example what we could do better as a company. Therefore, I feel more part of the organisation as a whole. Another example is the fact my coach asked me to prepare a client situation report. Internal information now flows better between all actors.