Anyone who works in a corporate environment knows performance reviews can be a little like going to the dentist—necessary and even beneficial, but not always pleasant.
Recently, machine operators in our Label and Packaging Materials factories and distribution centers in the U.S. set out to change what they saw as shortcomings in their review process. In doing so, they helped create a model for greater collaboration across our business.
It started when operators voiced dissatisfaction with their reviews in our annual employee engagement survey. Among their concerns: reviews were not timely, supervisors were sometimes too removed from operators’ work to assess it effectively and, in some cases, evaluations were based on a single observation of an operator’s performance.
Our HR team heard operators’ concerns loud and clear. Instead of issuing a top-down solution from HQ, they instead asked operators to take a central role in shaping their own reviews.
Our HR team first assembled a core project team made up of operators, managers and HR personnel from several different facilities. Then they assembled focus groups of operators at 18 of our U.S. factories. From there, they launched a months-long, multi-facility, long-distance dialogue, in which the project team sent initial ideas to the focus groups, and focus groups responded in turn with feedback and ideas of their own.
After a year of collaborative back-and-forth, the teams produced a new review process that better fits the reality of operators’ jobs, in everything from the evaluation criteria to the frequency of reviews. Just as important, it’s a process our operators feel ownership of. The collaboration that led to its creation helped bridge the organizational gap between management and operators that’s inherent in any manufacturing company, says senior HR manager Maureen Campbell Burkhart, who led the process.