How we Incorporated Core Values into our Company’s Annual Review Form

May 9, 2013

The AdvantageThe leadership team at Cash4Books.net had recognized for a while that our annual review form needed a makeover. We didn’t like the 3-4 page format… no one did. The format went back to a template that a former “HR Professional” had brought into the company from a previous employer. It just didn’t fit us well. I take the blame on that one–we should have created a custom annual review form that fit our company culture.

As the leadership team had been reading The Advantage by Lencioni, we wanted to make sure we took some next steps and put the concepts of the book into action while it was still fresh in our minds. The annual review form makeover was the first step we took.

And, the annual review form makeover started with CORE VALUES. Why? Because our core values must integrate into everything. From hiring, reviews, teams, meetings, how we act under various circumstances, and so on. They are not just something we hang on a wall or post to an intranet page… we will actually use them.

In other words, the new annual review form literally now has a section for each core value. And, it was vastly simplified. One page, double sided. Reviews will be filled out based on the core values of the company. There will not be a “grade” assigned, but rather a “frequency”. For example, how frequently is ____ core value exhibited by George?

I announced to the company a while ago that we can boil our five core values down to TWO:

  • Commit to Service Excellence
  • Improve Continuously

Lencioni made a VERY compelling case in the book that we take the time to re-think our other three. Our other three were: Be Honest, Celebrate, and Make a Difference.

Part of the process of re-thinking our other three was to consider the character traits of our current AND former rock star employees. Former being people that we would hire back in a heart beat if we could.

We also considered the character traits of people that were rejected from the company culture. Vomited out of the company, if you will. Everything was listed out in a long process on the whiteboard.

Reworking our core values is not something I took lightly. The leadership team spent some time reflecting on this, and making sure it was the right decision for us.  We had originally used principles in the book Built To Last by Collins to form our original five core values. The great thing was that Lencioni references Collins’ work several times, and does a great job at building and improving off of his work.

The bottom line is that we ended up with FOUR core values. These four were used in our new annual review form. We revealed the new two core values and their definitions as:

  • Support the Team
  • Be Considerate of Others
Definitions
Support the Team: Team player. Participates. Supports the goals of the entire team through daily actions.
Be Considerate of Others: Kind, friendly, considerate, and open-minded towards others.

 

In the spirit of helping other companies, I’d like to share our forms.  Disclaimer: I take no responsibility in you using this form in your workplace.  Talk to an HR professional if you have doubts, as I am not one. Here they are:

Finally, here is a snippet of what I wrote to employees during the rollout:

Examples
What if we mistakenly hired someone that is extremely demanding, forceful, egocentric, argumentative, confrontational, and aggressive? What about extremely prideful and arrogant? What about extremely condescending, pessimistic, negative, and close-minded towards other people? What about people that refuse to come to our team building or celebratory events? You get the point! Those types of personalities wouldn’t fit our culture, right? That’s why we want Support the Team and Be Considerate of Others. Many of you have worked at this company a long time, and I’m sure you can think of people that are no longer here that did not A) Support the Team, and/or were not B) Considerate of Others. They didn’t fit and they ultimately caused distractions and problems. It doesn’t matter how intelligent someone is, or how skilled they are. If they will not support the team or be considerate of others, they’re out (or best not let in to begin with).

What about diversity?
Diversity is great! We need a mix of planners with spontaneous people. We need analytic people, and we also need creative people. We need outgoing social butterfly extroverts, as well as introverts. We need a mix of risk-averse people, along with risk-takers. Those kinds of differences are healthy. What I’m talking about with people that don’t support the team and/or are not considerate of others is NOT healthy diversity. No more than a cancer cell in your body would be considered healthy diversity!

Tie in with the annual review form
We have designed our new annual review form to be simple and to stimulate the right kinds of conversations around the right topics. Those topics are centered on our core values and lead to healthy discussions on goals, roles, and responsibilities. This form provides reminders for everyone on what is important, and is to be used in conjunction with monthly check-in’s–this will build greater trust by preventing too much time passing between meaningful conversations. And, there should never be big surprises introduced on the annual review form.

Tie in with other areas
We plan to utilize our core values in as many ways as possible. That includes interviewing and screening new hires, self evals, monthly check-in’s, annual reviews, and so on.

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