‘Instead of just looking at the day-to-day tasks our staff was responsible for, we now focus on setting meaningful goals’
Even after hiring the right person in the right job, the collaborative work between HR professionals and hiring managers isn’t complete — by working together to coordinate professional development activities early and often, college and university leaders can equip staff and faculty to steadily improve and advance skills.
At some leading U.S. institutions, this transition has recently come into focus with the increasing use of performance management technology.
“Reformatting the culture of performance management on campus is really important,” said Shannon Phillips, assistant director of technology and compensation specialist at the University of Arkansas (U of A) in Fayetteville. U of A is one of more than 100 higher education institutions that use Performance Management — the new automated employee review solution from PeopleAdmin — to “implement more engaging performance management processes,” as Shannon puts it.
Because Performance Management is highly customizable, the solution has successfully facilitated changes, supported processes and helped achieve goals that vary greatly among the different institutions.
“We wanted to look at performance management at a higher level,” said Emily Wilson, professional development coordinator at Appalachian State University (App State) in Boone, North Carolina. App State uses Performance Management to help simplify workflows and empower supervisors to focus on an individual employee’s development. “Instead of just looking at the day-to-day tasks our staff was responsible for, we now focus on setting meaningful goals.”
Jennifer Derry, director of training and staff development at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, said her institution’s goal was to make performance management more personal.
“We’re really focused on more thoughtful, meaningful employee development strategies,” Jennifer said. “We have found it useful to start with a conversation about the future. If people are asked how they want to grow in the year ahead, now suddenly they’re thinking about possibilities there, rather than just looking back at what they did over the past year.”
But rethinking the performance management process requires more than adaptable technology. It also requires buy-in at all levels.
“When you have universities that are steeped in tradition, they might try something new but it has to be safe,” said Edward Wilson, Jr., Ph.D., director of strategic partnerships at PeopleAdmin and former director of academic affairs at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City.
He explained that because HR technology is likely to affect almost every employee at your institution — perhaps thousands of people — making a fast, sweeping change has risks, and can lead to anger and frustration.
Emily learned the importance of clear communication about technology changes during App State’s upgrade to PeopleAdmin’s SelectSuite applicant tracking solution last year, and she used that knowledge to build support for Performance Management across campus. “To get buy-in during implementation, I made sure to highlight all the benefits of Performance Management during trainings.”
As U of A, App State and Villanova continue to build and modify their performance management processes to fit their institutional goals, PeopleAdmin’s team will continue partnering with them to provide world-class support and service.
“With Performance Management, we want to look at what we’re dealing with now, but also what the future holds,” said Russ Guild, customer success consultant for delivery services at PeopleAdmin. Russ ensures Performance Management meets the unique needs of each customer during implementation. “We really focus on the big picture and little nuances that improve the user experience.”