Doug Dennerline, CEO, BetterWorks, spoke to HR Technologist on the power of a motivated workforce, about the need to take the goal setting process seriously and why he believes annual review processes are completely outdated. Doug brings deep experience leading high-growth enterprise software companies and businesses. Prior to BetterWorks, he has held leadership positions in companies like Alfresco Software, SAP and Salesforce.
Tell us a little about BetterWorks. What role does BetterWorks play in the HR Tech space?
Betterworks helps businesses of all shapes, sizes and industries to align, develop and motivate their workforce of both employees and managers through Continuous Performance Management(R) (CPM). I see too many businesses lagging in meeting their growth goals and struggling to respond with agility to changing market conditions.
They are struggling because they are trying to motivate today’s workforce with yesterday’s outdated and ineffective annual review processes.
At Betterworks, we believe in the power of a motivated workforce, so we’re changing this dynamic one customer at a time.
Betterworks facilitates the complex, continuous process of Performance Management, with an intuitive, seamless and social end user experience that drives end user adoption, and the customization necessary for each program to work within each unique organization.
Employee Engagement is the key to higher levels of productivity, better retention rate of talent and ultimately employee empowerment. What blueprint should CHROs follow to increase their organization’s employee engagement?
Shockingly, 87 percent of employees worldwide don’t feel engaged at work, nor do they understand how their work impacts the company. And a similar percentage indicate their annual reviews do not help them raise their performance levels, ultimately leaving them uninspired. It’s important to remember that employee engagement increases when people experience a sense of meaningfulness at work.
CHROs recognize that motivation and engagement are not one-time events for an employee. These need to be continuously stoked through regular, open, and ongoing conversations between employees and their leaders . These crucial conversations should:
- Help employees set goals that align to the organization’s top priorities
- Include check-in conversations at least weekly that focus on feedback, coaching around priorities and goal achievement, but also cover life in general
- Synthesize peer feedback from team participation
- Include frequent check-ins about their career and professional development goals
- Recognize the business impact of top performers, both financially and with specialized development and growth opportunities
When HR can support managers having these crucial conversations, it can have a striking impact on employee motivation while also helping managers build important leadership skills.
Why is it important for organizations to build a culture that not only encourages feedback from the management to employees, but also from the employees to the management and in between peers (peer to peer)? How can CHROs instill an open, and, transparent feedback mechanism in their organization?
Supporting an open, transparent feedback culture within an organization can be one of the most important things CHROs and their teams can do to positively impact employee motivation for increased productivity and agility.
Today’s work is powered by conversation. These conversations occur up, down and across the organization because the old hierarchical model is almost fully extinct. Employees are now regularly bringing their skills to highly cross-functional teams that are deftly spun up to face the organization’s most pressing priorities, and then disbanded as different groups form.
Employees need to be comfortable both with rapidly learning and applying new skills, all while regularly collaborating with new team members.
A culture of feedback is essential for a cross-functional work environment because each employee can play so many different roles. Over the course of a day or week one person can play the role of hierarchical manager needing to gather feedback from their employees’ peers, and the role of a newbie learning a new skill, also the role of a subject matter expert on a wholly different team. This is why soliciting feedback from peers and team members they work most closely with is essential to understanding each employee’s impact.
Feedback from employees back to their managers is equally as important because managers play an outsized role in each employee’s overall motivation and performance. HR needs to prioritize ways to help make managers better managers.
In your opinion, what does an ideal “Goal Setting Process” look like? What are the elements that would contribute in helping an employee evolve holistically?
Every manager should collaboratively set each employee’s goals (3 to 5), and ensure they align with the organization’s top priorities as well as (1-2) personal goals. This is one of the crucial conversations every manager needs to have with their employees at the top of each goal setting period. Managers cannot view goal setting as “set and forget” or they will struggle to see any benefit . Just imagine how ineffective your FitBit would be if it only allowed you to check in on your fitness goals every six months; the same thing applies here.
Recent research out of MIT recommends goals be FAST instead of SMART, meaning they are embedded in Frequent discussions, Ambitious in scope, measured by Specific metrics and Transparent for everyone to see.
With FAST, the goal setting conversation is just one of the crucial conversations necessary for motivation and higher performance. Managers also need to remain actively engaged with each team member on goal progress through regular check in conversations that cover recognition, challenges and re-prioritization.
A normal employee life cycle consists of a lot of highlights and achievements (work anniversaries, successful projects etc.). How should CHROs ensure that these highlights are celebrated and rewarded well?
In today’s environment, silos and hierarchy have given way to flat organizations and agile cross functional teams. Managers and the organization need visibility into the skills and behaviors demonstrated and gained within these cross-functional teams in order to understand each employees’ impact in order to celebrate and reward them appropriately.
Uniquely rewarding outsized business impact is especially important for the retention of top performers.
It is important to remember that recognition can go beyond the obvious financial ones to also include opportunities to build new skills and gain new experiences.
Data analytics is a significant component of monitoring employee engagement. What type of insights should a CHRO be looking at while working with a data analytics tool?
HR leaders are looking for actionable analytics that will actually help them – not require them to learn complicated tools or statistical approaches.
They need analytic solutions that proactively surface truly actionable insights to support organizational agility and to identify skill development and coaching opportunities – and we continue to enhance our own analytic capabilities to deliver this.
Organizations already solicit and synthesize information about their market, their competitors and their customers for their regular strategic business planning. Too many organizations neglect to include critical insights about their workforce – things like who are our top performers, who is ready for a leadership position, where is our workforce skill and competency-wise. It is critical for HR teams to actively participate in business and strategic planning armed with the workforce insights the business needs.
Artificial intelligence is a buzzword in HR, and you being at the intersection of technology and HR, how do you look at Artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc.?
It is clear that artificial intelligence and machine learning are eventually going to transform so many HR functions — you’re already seeing it within the recruiting space and the identification of employees at-risk of attrition. These technologies will also be transformational in helping managers become better managers.
We’re all aware the role bias plays in annual performance reviews, and studies have even demonstrated rampant implicit gender bias. With a continuous performance management program supported by AI/ML, HR will be able to easily determine where bias may exist and to pinpoint where additional managerial coaching may be needed.
I can even see the day when AI can be evaluating “language”, as a manager is completing her review of a team member, where she’ll be able to run a ‘bias check’ just as comfortably as she runs a spell check today.
What questions are your customers asking you? How is that impacting your platform’s roadmap? Are there any new features or upcoming upgrades that you’re excited about and would like to give us a sneak peek into?
HR leaders want to provide their senior leadership teams with critical workforce insights that drive business strategy and planning, including: who are our top talent and what is their next appropriate assignment, what does our leadership pipeline look like, and what is our skill profile across the entire workforce.
Insights like these are critical to supporting the agility organizations need to best complete in today’s complex environment. Later this year we will be releasing expanded analytics for our customers that include highly visual workforce insights, derived from their continuous performance management programs. We are also working to develop the rest of the tools needed to identify and manage top talent, like next generation 9 block and calibration tools.
Betterworks develops HR software to inspire and motivate modern workforces. Using the power of conversation, they help in aligning work to goals, develop employees, and accelerate growth. Their easy-to-use, integrated solutions transform the way people work together, driving more 1-on-1 communication, more continuous feedback, and more personalized recognition – uniting workforces around a shared purpose, so they’re driven to achieve great things together.