More Communication with 360 Reviews

How J2 Interactive increases manager-employee communication and collects 360 feedback for 150 distributed employees.

About the Company

J2 Interactive is a leading InterSystems Technology Platform partner, providing services to the healthcare industry that run the gamut from systems integration to custom application development.

The firm has 150 employees distributed across the United States and the world. It is a flat organization, and matrixed, with most employees coming together to work on project-based teams.

A consultant might work under the direction of several different account managers on projects throughout the year, and will also have a personnel manager who they report to generally. People move around a lot, interacting with many coworkers, and contributing to a variety of projects.

Heather Capel is the Vice President of Professional Services, she spoke with us about J2 Interactive, their performance management needs, and how they run their process in PerformYard.

1-on-1 Touchpoints

At J2 Interactive employees connect with their mentors to talk about work-life in 1-on-1 touchpoints. Heather said of these touchpoints, “I’m asking questions like ‘how are you personally?’ and ‘how are you liking your job and this company?’ and finally ‘what can I do to make your life better and make you happier?’”

Each month the HR coordinator checks a report in PerformYard to see who has not had a touchpoint recently. A 1-on-1 meeting or call is then scheduled between the employee and their mentor.

The meeting is meant to be an open exchange that can move wherever it needs to, so there is no structured form to fill out. Managers write up freeform notes after the call and add them to PerformYard.

Heather told us how a distributed team can mean that most communication revolves around specific work. For that reason, time set aside for touchpoints, when everyone can talk about how they’re feeling, is particularly valuable.

Heather also mentioned that having a feel for company morale is very important for leadership. Getting a regular pulse from employees changes how they operate at a leadership level.

Annual 360 Reviews

J2 Interactive runs annual 360 reviews on employee anniversary dates. People frequently move teams and interact with many coworkers, so 360 reviews help mentors collect a complete picture of performance across the year, even if the mentor hasn’t been working with the employee directly.

Each review process starts by collecting a lot of feedback. This includes a self-appraisal, reviews from account managers who oversaw employee projects, feedback from peers, feedback from clients, and for managers feedback from their reports. Each 360 might include feedback from 5-10 or more different people.

These feedback forms are kept short and simple. One, or a few open-ended questions prompt you to share thoughts on overall performance, specific examples of success and areas for improvement. The questions vary depending on who is filling out the form.

All this feedback is reviewed by two people, the mentor and the account manager an employee worked with most over the last year. They come together with the employee for a one hour discussion.

The discussion focuses on the highs and lows, celebrating the good and following up on anything that was identified as an area for improvement. Very little in this meeting is being addressed for the first time, so there are no surprises. It is an opportunity to take a long view of the year and discuss any big picture insights that come from that.  

After reviewing performance, the conversation transitions to a discussion of the future. What projects are coming up? What type of work do they want to be doing? What skills do they want to develop? and What are their personal aspirations?

Following the meeting, the reviewers write up their own summary. Finally the completed annual review with all the 360 feedback is checked by HR for consistency and to make sure the team is following best practices when delivering feedback.

The complete package of feedback is then emailed to the employee and is available to review in PerformYard. None of the feedback is anonymous and all feedback is visible to the employee. This gives an employee the opportunity to review the answers from every part of their 360 and follow-up as necessary.

Ongoing Feedback

At J2 Interactive performance feedback happens year round and comes in many forms. Employees may wish to discuss something they’re seeing with management, clients praise employees over email, and teams across the company are always succeeding in ways worth recognizing.

All that feedback and more is stored and managed with the Feedback feature in PerformYard. Praise from a client might be shared publicly, while notes from a performance conversation might be sent as a private note to a mentor.

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