Creating More Qualitative Discussions

NAMI's automated employee feedback fuels the continuous evaluation and improvement of its performance management process.

Meet James

James Cornett is the VP of Administration at North American Meat Institute (NAMI). He joined the organization in 2012 as the Director of IT, and his role has progressed throughout the years. His position is now divided between IT, administration and HR. As a one-person HR department, James’s focus has been mostly on payroll and human resources responsibilities to ensure all employees are taken care of.

About North American Meat Institute

The North American Meat Institute, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a trade association representing around 700 companies that work with beef, pork, veal and turkey products. As a membership-based organization, their mission is to connect people and resources to strengthen trust in the food we produce.

The organization has approximately 40 employees that work in regulatory and scientific affairs, legislative and public affairs, meetings and membership, and administration. The organization’s structure is hierarchical, with junior staff, directors and VPs. Everyone is heavily involved in the core mission of the organization. 

The Challenge

Prior to automating their performance management process, NAMI used spreadsheets to manually run their annual reviews. The process started with a self-review by the employee. Then a supervisor would fill out a review, and the two would meet to compare notes. Employees and supervisors would be given three weeks to complete the forms, then another two weeks to meet and discuss them.  “We'd use the same Excel spreadsheet as the performance evaluation tool every year and just changed the dates. That was it. I did everything manually,” James said. 

After the reviews were collected, James had to print out the reviews of each employee and create two binders for the CEO, separated by roles. James also provided salary information to the CEO, who would then finalize the salary raises for the staff. 

“In September, I would start with setting up the review timeline. Then I had to get the forms and send them out. After they got back to me, I would have to collate them and put them in folders. It was just time consuming,” James shared. The process took two months.

Why PerformYard

James began looking for a system that could be automated to shorten the time it was taking him to manage performance reviews. “I was looking for a platform that was quick to learn and easy for myself and our employees to use,” he shared. 

“I looked at a bunch of different platforms, and when I came across PerformYard, I thought to myself, ‘This seems to be the best.’ We went from a manual process to an automated platform that is truly time saving, but also very easy to learn,” he shared.

James also shared being a big fan of PerformYard’s visibility features around feedback. “I like that I can choose who to share my feedback with, whether positive or negative,  I can set it so only the recipient can see it or I can use the feature to make a note for myself and it's only visible to me.”

The Process

NAMI has a biannual review cycle in June and December with each review being the same. The process starts with a self-evaluation, a form designed to ask employees to elaborate on five or six questions. Then, the employee’s answers move up the chain of command to the CEO with everyone sharing comments. It is then sent back down to the supervisor so they can have a final conversation with the employee, and review the leadership’s comments attached.

“Today, the process is qualitative in nature and more of an open document that functions as a conversation between employees and supervisors,” James said. “The review cycles ensure employees are holding check-in conversations with their supervisor along the way.”

Since switching to PerformYard, NAMI’s forms have gone through several iterations. These continuous improvements are being made in response to employee’s feedback on how to make the forms and questions more applicable to NAMI’s work realities.  

James encourages supervisors to lean into the feedback section of PerformYard to create a running list of things they want to put in evaluations. Ultimately, James wants to make performance reviews a living document that is always being improved upon.


James shared that, overall, employees feel the switch to a digital process was a tremendous improvement and appreciated the changes to the performance management process. James not only has a new system to help him efficiently manage the performance review processes, but he also has the help of a performance evaluation team, composed of five people from different departments. Their goal is to continuously evaluate and improve on NAMI’s performance management process.

James said the training from PerformYard has helped him evolve their performance evaluation forms. He mentioned that PerformYard’s Customer Success Team helped him create a process that works for NAMI. “The support and help you get from PerformYard is exceptional. No matter what I need or who I call, someone is always available to help.”

As a PerformYard customer since 2017, NAMI is still early in the process of tweaking their performance management system. James said NAMI plans to continue to evolve their process as the organization grows. “I'm certain that our evaluation forms will continue to evolve and grow as time goes on to meet the needs of our employees and the leadership. We take it one step at a time and evaluate the process as we go. We want everyone to have a voice and a say in what their career goals and aspirations are. We've come a long way from where we were.”

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