How do you continue to innovate and grow after being in business for over 100 years? That was the question that leaders at Protective Life faced. “What’s made us successful up until now will likely not be what gets us where we need to go,” says Stephen Owens, AVP of Learning and Talent Development.
Chief Human Resources Officer Wendy Evesque says, “Our customer demographics are changing, the needs of our customers are changing, and we’re seeing HR evolve to support those changing needs.”
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One of those major changes for HR is the performance management process. Owens explains, “People are recognizing that the model that was put in place 60 years ago when we were a production society just really doesn’t work for a knowledge worker.”
Protective Life used to have a “very traditional performance management system,” according to Evesque. “People set goals at the beginning of the year, and then, at the end of the year, we required every employee to complete an evaluation.”
Part of the reason that this system felt outdated—and ineffective—was that “managers were spending an inordinate amount of time just getting through the process and writing the review, instead of having a real, genuine conversation with an employee.”
The leaders at Protective Life decided to prioritize these genuine, employee-centric conversations. They wanted to provide managers and employees easy access to real-time feedback and recognition tools. The goal was to shift the focus to development rather than appraisals. Evesque describes their thought process: “We’ve really got to be focused on talent—how do we coach and develop people? How do we give feedback? It has to be something that’s happening every day.”
Why? Because “the talent that people bring to us is really going to be our sustainable competitive advantage,” says Owens.
As part of their performance management redesign, Protective Life partnered with Reflektive, utilizing the platform’s goal setting, check-in, and feedback software to bolster the new quarterly—rather than annual—review process.
Owens describes Reflektive’s tools as being very intuitive and easy-to-use. Protective Life employees learned the system quickly, without the need for extensive training. And Evesque says that the software has helped managers find the ideal balance between completing reviews and having conversations with employees.
After integrating Reflektive into the performance management process, Owens says that Protective Life saw an increase of about “40% in the number of people who could say they understood exactly where they should focus in the next 90 days.” They also found that “92% of our employees agreed with the statement that ‘They know where they stand with their manager.’”
Setting clear goals and defining employees’ roles within the company leads to higher engagement and more productive workers, which is the ultimate goal of performance management. As Evesque says, “If performance increases, we’ve done our jobs.”
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