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Managing employee’s performance is a practice that HR professionals tend to be a part of throughout their career. Have an under-performing employee? Call HR. Need someone to improve? Call HR.

But when an HR leader needs to be performance managed himself, what happens? It’s a worse-case scenario that we’ve all thought of before, but what if you were put on the performance management track?

That’s exactly what happened to Rob. He was three years into his role as an HR manager at a Fortune 100 company, and things were going well. At least, he thought so. His manager didn’t seem to have issues, his clients were happy. Or, were they?

During Rob’s year-end performance review, expecting to get a middle of the pack rating, Rob was blindsided with the news that his performance was below expectations.

Wait, what?

He was absolutely stunned and taken by surprise. All of the things that the performance management process isn’t supposed to be. We won’t go down that rabbit hole here…

During his conversation, one thing was clear: his performance wasn’t meeting his manager’s expectations AND she didn’t have any concrete examples to point to of where he was coming up short.

Quite a conundrum. One that on the flip-side as HR professionals, we hear from employees all the time. Now that the shoe was on the other foot, what did Rob do?

From PIP to Promotion Using HR Metrics

After the sting and shock wore off, Rob was determined to figure out where things went wrong and how to improve it. He liked his job, the company, his coworkers, his compensation and benefits… it was worth fighting for.

Without any actionable feedback or relevant examples though, it wasn’t clear how he could successfully complete the 90-day Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) he was put on during his review, to save his job. Here are the steps he took – that even earned him a promotion.

1: From Subjective to Objective

Rob knew that until he was able to objectively track his performance, he was never going to be able to prove his value and show his improvements in his role – especially when he didn’t have anything solid to start from. So he turned to one of his favorite HR tools – metrics.
To objectively track your performance, and prove your value and show improvements in your role, rethink #HRMetrics #HR Click To Tweet

Typically, HR metrics are used to measure and evaluate how a specific HR activity, program, deliverable, outcome, campaign, etc. is working (or not working). But in this case, Rob thought he could use HR metrics to evaluate his overall performance on the HR work he was doing.

He knew he had to move from subjective measurements, such as perception, feelings, emotions, biases, etc. – and into something that was reflective on objective deliverables. A direct correlation between his work and the actual outcomes.

Kinda sounds like what our annual goals are supposed to do, right? But let’s be honest, how often is that actually the case? ?

Using the same logic of setting SMART goals that can be measurement with a specific result, he wanted to try something similar with his PIP. He had nothing to lose, right?

2: Choosing the Right Metrics

Rob had some feedback, subjective as it may be, to start from. Key areas in which he needed to show measurable improvement in, in order to successfully complete his PIP and keep his job.

The three key areas for improvement on his PIP were: communication, partnership/collaboration and job knowledge.

On the surface, it’s not very clear how these three – let’s be honest, subjective categories – could be turned into something objective and measurable. Here’s how Rob tackled this.
On the surface, if it’s not very clear how to turn subjective categories into something objective and measurable, start with what success looks like. #HRMetrics #HR Click To Tweet

First, he looked at the desired outcomes for each category – so he knew exactly what success looks like. Once success was defined, he then reviewed his personal goals for the year (and the department’s goals), with an eye towards understanding how these goals would be able to support or take-away, from his PIP outcomes.

For communication, he mapped out the various ways he was expected to communicate in his role – and then narrowed down the means and methods, until he could create a repeatable and measurable process.

For example, his PIP indicated that he didn’t communicate timely to his manager, on project status, updates or employee relations situations. From there, he outlined his job duties that could influence those three things such as:

  • Ongoing 1:1 meetings with his manager
  • Status dashboard with various categories captured and shared in an ongoing basis
  • Daily email recaps to his boss
  • Employee Relations reporting (from the ER group), with his updates incorporated as additional notes

With these top four ideas, he collaborated with his manager to see if any of these ideas/suggestions would help her feel more in the loop. They agreed upon two items – ongoing 1:1 meetings and a status dashboard.

For the 1:1 meetings, Rob set a recurring meeting up – with a shared document with his manager, including the weekly agenda, action items, open items, and status updates. He created an ongoing capture of his communications with his manager – and one place for them both to see and track what was going on.

From a metrics perspective, the status dashboard was even more powerful. He created a dashboard for his communications, projects and ER situations, that he reported on weekly and added to the 1:1 meeting shared document.

The dashboard consisted of simple metrics such as:

  • # of meetings (time spent in hours) each week – broken down by colleague, business partner, ER, etc.
  • # of emails – broken down by colleague, business partner, ER, question, etc.
  • Ongoing list of ER cases – status update, notes, next-steps, expected date, etc.

He was also able to incorporate metrics from the two other categories, into this status update. ER situations/updates were captured without issue, but showcasing his job knowledge was critical and a bit more complicated.

How do you tell your boss that you know how to do your job, and the knowledge you need for that job, if he/she doesn’t see it?

3: Communicating Metrics through Stories

Knowing what to track, was a great start – especially for his new status report dashboard. But understanding how to leverage the metrics to tell the right story, was just as important. If he simply slapped the metrics on an Excel document and sent them along, there’s no doubt that his boss would continue to overlook his work and progress.

He started with the end in mind again: what story was he hoping his metrics would tell for his performance? That he was communicating, he was collaborating with his leaders and that he knew the answers to HR questions and resources.

If his numbers showed those things, then he had a good chance of keeping his job. Conversely, if they didn’t, he would know exactly what needed to be adjusted to get back on track.

So the story of his metrics in his dashboard, starting taking form.

Rob added job knowledge questions and breakdowns into his status reports. He tracked questions from his clients by topic and leadership level, with additional metrics around them: what was the resource that solved the question, was it solved in the first ask (or additional follow-up needed), how long did it take to respond to the question and close it out, was there a resource gap, training he completed, and so on.

After tracking the job knowledge components for a month, his manager said the following,

“Wow – I guess I never realized that you knew all of these things because you were just taking care of them. This makes me feel much better about your overall knowledge and it shows how much your clients trust you.”

Great feedback in such a short amount of time – and by showing the metrics behind his work, breaking down his HR activities, he was able to showcase his skillset and identify gaps for the rest of the department.

Rob’s Results

Rob’s results were beyond his wildest expectations. He not only successfully completed his PIP, but he was promoted to an HR Director six months later.

It turned out, that Rob’s PIP provided him with the opportunity to adjust the way he works – focused on outcomes first, versus being focused on the daily grind. His manager recognized these changes – or perhaps, Rob’s positioning and storytelling, and wanted Rob to lead the way forward for the rest of the HR team.

Rob’s ability to boil things down to the numbers, creating metrics and telling an easy-to-follow story, sparked a passion for objective measurements – which has been implemented across the rest of their HR department.
#CaseStudy: Rob used #HRMetrics to boil his #HR work down to the numbers, creating metrics and telling an easy-to-follow story. From PIP to promotion! Click To Tweet

Want to see how HR metrics can change your career but not sure where to start? Snag this free guide below, 4 Easy Steps to Your First HR Metric(s).