Hacking Performance Evaluations at HRevolution

Of all the HR conference sessions and workshops I attended this fall (I wrote about couple of them here and here), the one that spoke to me the most loudly was the Talent Anarchy HackLab at HRevolution. As facilitated by Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt (the team that is Talent Anarchy), session participants were asked to hack an existing HR system.

Wait . . . what?

If you are anything like me, you think that hacking into a system means sneaking and subterfuge in order to create some type of chaos or perform an illegality. On a computer. Not so, explained Jason.  He briefly discussed the evolution of the hack, which in its basic form means to take an existing system and stretch it beyond its original bonds to create a better system. As succinctly explained by The Recruiting Animal while I was live tweeting the session:

So TA offered the group an opportunity to choose and hack one of a pre-approved list of HR systems, accepting the presumption that they were all broken. The group was informed that they would discover some hacks or tweaks that they could take back to their jobs and implement immediately. No asking for approval, no developing a budget.

Despite an impassioned plea (which I fully endorsed) by China Gorman  to choose exit interviews (the whole group had to work on the same system), the class voted – by a narrow margin – to tackle performance evaluations.

So 4 groups of 5 people started discussing performance evaluations – what they should be, what they could be. Groups were instructed to break up and reform 3 times, so everyone could hear and use the ideas from all of the previous discussion. I can’t recreate those discussions here, but I can restate what I found amazing about the process and the end result.

At the end of our time, the whole gathering had essentially agreed on what performance evaluations should and could be. In summary, we found that performance evaluations should

  • be a conversation, not a check mark
  • be in the moment or in real time, not on an annual or semi-annual basis
  • involve managers, customers, co-workers, not just an immediate supervisor or manager
  • be owned by the employee, not HR or their boss
Read those statements, and then go do something in your performance evaluation system that stretches it toward those ideals.  Don’t ask – just do.
Hack it.