At BetterWorks, we’re fortunate to have innovative companies partner with us and evolve with our solution. Lumeris, a healthcare company based in St. Louis, is one such company. Lumeris initially launched OKRs with BetterWorks, followed by Conversations. With BetterWorks continuous performance management, Lumeris has achieved greater organizational transparency and elevated performance development for their employees–in a short amount of time.
I spoke with Sandy Pickett, Director of Learning & Development at Lumeris, about how revamping internal performance management process has made her team more effective.
Ingrid: Lumeris has partnered with BetterWorks for the past three years, but struggled with the initial roll out. What were some of the challenges you encountered?
Sandy: When we started our partnership, we only used BetterWorks for aspirational goal setting, which was also BetterWorks’ focus at the time. The challenge was that we had a separate system for operational goals, and having two systems proved difficult. We didn’t get a lot of traction.
In our next iteration, we decided to have one platform, and had both aspirational and operational objectives in BetterWorks. That change was really helpful because it provides transparency into how individual employees contribute to the big pictures. Our top company objectives and our President’s objectives cascade down throughout the organization. We began to have more success, but still had some departments that were struggling to engage and put their goals in context.
Ingrid: You make an interesting point because we hear that sentiment echoed by a number of customers. “HR departments want to provide transparency in a single system” that’s easy to engage with, and they don’t want goals to exist in isolation. That’s why we launched Conversations last year – to make it easier for managers and employees to have more frequent discussions about their goals and performance. You started using Conversations at Lumeris earlier this year – what’s been the impact?
Sandy: We started using quarterly Conversations, and it was a game changer for us. It helped us connect the dots between goals and performance, and now we have everything in one system. We are moving away from annual performance reviews and Conversations open the channels of communications and promote a more robust dialogue with your manager.
Ingrid: We also hear a lot of companies wanting to move away from annual reviews. What motivated that decision at Lumeris, and what benefits have you seen?
Sandy: “Annual reviews are painful.” It’s a painful discussion, especially when managers and employees aren’t aligned. Conducting conversations quarterly and putting them in the context of goals makes the process more accessible. The questions are forward-looking, which are helpful for new managers who are developing their own coaching skills. Conducting Conversations quarterly has helped people get better at giving feedback. The first time we did it, it was a little hard. But now, we just started our fourth cycle, and it’s much easier. Another benefit is that we have more opportunities for advancement. Now, if we see someone is doing well, we can give a promotion or raise that quarter, rather than making everyone wait for the end of the year.
Ingrid: When you rolled out the new program, how did you approach training?
Sandy: We took a hands-on approach to training, conducting dozens of live sessions over the course of a month. We had participants bring their laptops so we could make training a working session, which meant people came out confident that they knew how to use the system. We also created user guides for reference. For our executives, we conducted personal coaching sessions with each executive to be sure they understood the program and entered their own objectives.
Ingrid: I’m glad you brought up the training for executives, because we find that executive engagement to be essential for a successful program. How does your leadership use BetterWorks?
Sandy: We had a new President join two years ago, and his biggest focus has been transparency. He’s played a big role in setting expectations of how executives use objectives. They use BetterWorks to facilitate their monthly business reviews, where they speak to which objectives are red and what resources they need from the organization. This also creates accountability – if individuals know their department leader will use objectives in the monthly business review, they are incentivized to keep their progress up to date.
Ingrid: What are the biggest benefits you’ve seen with BetterWorks? What are your program goals for 2018?
Sandy: The most significant benefit is being able to see where you fit into the bigger picture. Previously, individuals didn’t see how their work connected to company goals. If you don’t see that connection, it can be hard to have drive. If I can see the big picture, I have a greater sense of purpose. BetterWorks also allows us to show that we are transparent, it’s not just something we say. “You can’t be more transparent than having every single person’s objectives public to everyone!”
For 2018, we want to explore 360 Feedback in BetterWorks, so employees can get feedback from business partners and not just supervisors. We’re also looking at how we onboard new hires and how we can use BetterWorks to support their onboarding plans right from the beginning.
Through its partnership with BetterWorks, Lumeris has created a strong continuous performance management program. As the team looks ahead to 2018, they are well positioned to build on their success and continue to drive employee engagement and development. We enjoying watching Lumeris achieve great success with a revitalized performance management process, and look forward to continuing our partnership for years to come.