How We Measure Impact in Meaningful and Actionable Ways

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When I was a field worker, end-of-year reviews were one of the least helpful exercises. The questions were designed to give a picture of the work over a year, but they didn’t consider the nuances we experienced daily on the ground. Reflecting on the work once a year did little to adjust our daily and weekly activities, and the various training opportunities provided to us barely scratched the surface of the support we really needed. No one received what they hoped for in this process—not the organization itself and certainly not us who lived the job every day.

Historical View of Impact Metrics

We recently interviewed a church historian about how the religious sector has changed how it measures impact over the last hundred years. He highlighted something we have found to be true in other sectors: At the beginning of his sector’s decline, a significant change occurred in review processes—they stopped collecting narratives.

Traditionally speaking, numerical markers are more accessible than stories to capture the scope and scale of what’s happening. Yet when we take the journey of impact (aka the “story”) out of the reporting, no one receives the information they need—why the information matters and what to do with it. Stories reveal the dynamic changes in a context and inform stakeholders of necessary changes that need to be made. Removing stories from the review process means most industries do not see the full picture of what is happening, and their results suffer.

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Disconnect Between the Field, Headquarters, and Funders

Impact happens when multiple groups of stakeholders converge to engage in the goal:

  • Funders have an interest in supporting work that changes society.
  • Organizations are formed to give structure to groups of change agents.
  • People join those organizations to contribute the best of who they are to a cause larger than themselves.

One common challenge in the social impact sector is the variety of goals of each group of  stakeholders. Each group comes to the space evaluating different components of complex situations. Funders look for the bottom lines of lives transformed. Field workers hold the nuance of unfolding stories that change daily because lives and communities are dynamic. Organizational leaders have to hold the tension between these two worlds and often lean towards the interest of the funders.

 There are two fallacies these dynamics reveal:

  • We must choose between reporting the bottom line and attending to the nuances of community dynamics.
  • There are competing priorities between stakeholders—and one set of priorities must win over the other. This dynamic is felt more at the ground level where the daily activities occur. The difficulty is that field workers are rarely brought into strategic planning sessions, leaving them to their assumptions about the motivations of the other stakeholders.

Effective performance review software should eliminate the distinctions between stakeholders in order to  bring alignment to all involved. Funders should be able to receive what they hope for with accompanying narratives that support the bottom line. Field workers should be able to reflect more often on their work and be provided with more meaningful resources to help them succeed. Organizations should have more nuanced information to base their strategic planning. 

Everyone should win. With Pulse, now everyone can.

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Issues with Typical Performance Reviews

The issue with the performance management process is that it can be complicated and rife with peculiarities that are challenging to streamline, unify, and systematize. In the process meaningful information and connection can be lost—or at least it feels that way. There are widespread issues about performance management that sometimes prevent organizations from enjoying the  benefits of this vital tool for growth.

Issue #1: Performance reviews don’t care about how an employee is doing, just if they hit a KPI.

Solution:  A constructive performance evaluation should involve a discussion of the employee's duties and how they connect to the department's and the company's objectives. The review should be used to compare an individual's performance to the company's expectations so that employees may learn how to perform better. Resources like professional development plan templates and productivity trackers can equip employees throughout the year to make sure they are on track with what they need to  do for their own development and success.

Issue #2: Performance reviews don’t connect employee performance with the company’s culture.

Solution: Routines are great, but the world rarely runs as smoothly as we want. Contemporary employee management methods must include the ability to adapt. During the year, a lot can happen; markets can change, new rivals might appear, and priorities can alter. Because of all these potential changes, adaptation is crucial.

People management systems adapt to change. This does not mean that a company should require employees to fill out an employee self-evaluation template monthly. Instead, the organization has to develop broad strategic priorities that hold true even if supporting goals shift and external conditions alter. Employees can adjust their objectives to match the organization's overarching aim by using these strategic priorities as a beacon of direction.

Issue #3: Performance reviews don’t improve employee engagement.

Solution: Yearly employee engagement surveys don't allow the business to course-correct and improve if something goes wrong over the year. For example, an employee may be over-performing in their current job before gradually losing interest and looking for better opportunities elsewhere. Conversely, some people need extra training to reach their objectives and fulfill their job roles. An organization's growth can be hampered if these variables are ignored.

Issue #4: Performance reviews use outdated evaluation forms that don’t rely on real-time, detailed employee data.

Solution: Managers cannot expect to conduct performance assessments by shooting from the hip in the era of big data. Instead of gut reactions, managers need evidence to support their views and actions, which comes in all forms, from employee evaluation forms to Qualtrics Employee Engagement software. Reviews ought to be more metric- and goal-oriented in light of this. Before they sit down to talk, employees should have a very strong understanding of where they stand, which has already been recorded in an established HR software or another shareable source between managers and employees.

Issue #5: Performance reviews don’t take into account how employees feel they are achieving or not achieving in their current positions.

Solution: Long-term loyalty, improved performance, and a decreased likelihood of leaving an organization are all characteristics of employees who feel heard and believe the company cares about their careers. A well-organized performance evaluation process aids employee progress toward goals and lowers turnover. A business must monitor an employee's performance regardless of how well they are doing. When employees know their performance will be evaluated regularly, they produce higher-quality work and focus on  achieving the company's objectives.

When employees’ work is reduced to just a few HR metrics—whether it is a rating or a ranking—employees' attention switches from how to enhance their performance to whether their boss is qualified to evaluate it. This is why the outdated annual employee review procedure has to be replaced with a more time-sensitive, engaging process. Goal-setting and frequent feedback are essential for employees, especially those who operate in unpredictable circumstances.

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Barriers to Organizational Transformation

Change is supposed to offer something new, but what kind of new? People are generally traditional beings. Our routines become rote. Change shakes us out of our complacency—often in unwelcome ways, even if it's for the better. Change impedes autonomy and habits and gives some people the impression that they no longer have control over their domain. As a result, many people would rather stay stuck—even to their detriment—than go forward.

People typically rebel against hasty decisions that give them little opportunity to adapt or plan for the repercussions. As a result, leaders need to  use clear, uncomplicated stages and timeframes to provide employees assurance and confidence in the process. 

Pulse gives management better insight into individual employees, helping them guide their employees—for everyone’s benefit.

Providing your staff with the chance to evaluate their performance and reflect on their job offers them a sense of ownership over their work and the working environment. If they actively participate in their assessment, instead of passively receiving it, they will feel more driven and interested in their work and the organization. That drive can result in better job output, more potential, and a more promising future.

Connecting Reflection With Action

Companies can enable workers to reflect, evaluate, and define their goals by combining a manager's performance review and self-evaluation. Likewise, the goal of self-evaluation is not to transfer responsibility for a task from management to an employee. The goal is to encourage employees to reflect critically on their performance, role, and job with the end result of motivating employees to be more effective. Self-evaluations assist managers and supervisors in comprehending an employee's career growth as a whole from that employee's particular point of view.

Pulse is a staff management software created expressly to assist businesses and organizations in translating their ideas into worthwhile and useful outcomes. Pulse brings together the whole picture of management's efforts, from brief meeting notes to organizational assessments, enabling them to plan their next moves effectively. This enables organizations to alter their course of action purposefully when  the situation changes.

Providing Just-In-Time Support

Workers’ effort increases when they are motivated and believe their managers value and support them. Motivated workers go beyond what is in their job description to complete their jobs effectively. Employee engagement influences various company outcomes when leaders and managers focus that energy and effort well.

Employee Engagement

Workers who feel a sense of belonging to their company put in more effort, stay at their jobs longer, and inspire others to do the same. Customer services, employee turnover, sales, and more are all improved by employee engagement.  

Highly engaged workers have positive perceptions of their workplace. Employees will commit to whatever it takes  to support the organization's success if they feel connected to their teams, love their organization, and see the impact of their work. These "brand ambassadors" extol the virtues of their business and motivate coworkers to give it their all.

Employee Satisfaction

The phrases employee engagement and employee satisfaction are sometimes used interchangeably because they are somewhat comparable ideas, but they measure distinct things. For a company to make strategic decisions to develop and enhance the culture of engagement, it is essential to understand the difference.

Basic requirements and concerns in the workplace are covered by employee satisfaction. Although it is an excellent place to start, employee satisfaction frequently falls short of what is most important.  

Engagement requires satisfaction. Workers who don't have their essential needs satisfied won't be engaged until those issues are resolved. Realizing that happiness does not equate to excellence or engagement is crucial. In fact, employee contentment can hurt your business if your low-performing staff are content with their jobs.

Satisfied workers are content, but employees that are engaged come to work every day ready to offer their all for their organizations' success. Pulse helps you make the difference for each employee.

Performance Reviews

Managers can provide their direct reports with fair and useful evaluations by conducting effective performance appraisals. This can be achieved with various tools, from individual development plan templates to help employees map out their goals, to a talent management system that can help managers keep everything in one place. This can boost employee engagement, offer powerful encouragement and reward, and build concrete, accountable avenues for employee progress.

For the system to be effective, employers must show staff members that performance reviews are an honest and constructive check-in rather than an opportunity for reprimand. These meetings may serve as a realignment to avoid misunderstandings and a means of pausing, taking a step back, and recalibrating professional development plans. Workers who get the value and intent of performance evaluations will approach them positively and consider them opportunities for professional development.

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Co-Creating A New Reality

All significant stakeholders must understand the primary goal of the company. External stakeholders must be aware of the organization's goals and the benefits it offers to the market, vendors, and customers. Internal stakeholders must know the organization's direction to tailor their work to its goals and objectives.

In the early planning phases, external stakeholder opinions and insights are especially helpful since they give perspective on the current environment and a future vision for the business. Workers are familiar with the organization's assets and liabilities, comprehend what hinders achievement, and are intimately familiar with the requirements for performance.

It is difficult to achieve without a destination, a plan for getting there, and organizational support. Without a goal, you cannot build a community out of the group around a shared outcome. Without a guide, you have no understanding of your alternatives for getting there. Furthermore, without commitment, you cannot guarantee that your stakeholders will go in the way you need them to. A crucial part of the strategic planning process is establishing commitment through widespread stakeholder participation.

One of the best ways to help stakeholders from different areas of a business work together to create something new is to show them how they are related and the areas they have in common. For example, looking at common employee suggestions along with complaints from outside stakeholders and analyzing their similarities can help create buy-in for new business processes that will make both parties happy.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Pulse is an efficient performance review system that doesn't just help a business identify its strengths or weaknesses; it also helps employees get valuable feedback from all parts of the company's management team, which will help them improve their overall performance. 

Pulse is a solution that changes where employee reviews go in a business’s management cycle. Pulse believes performance reviews shouldn’t be about just hitting one metric a year; instead they’re about helping form employees in a well-rounded, holistic way. Pulse ties microfeedback with macrofeedback and links learning management systems to help management teams form their employees in real-time and support them with detailed solutions. 

If your business is looking for an all-in-one app designed to help you ask the right questions and guide you to the right resources …You need Pulse!

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