Roger Ferguson, Lead Consultant of Big 5 Performance offers some alternative human resources practices pertaining to employee assessment reviews.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Jay Curry: Hello, Texas. Welcome back this is Texas Business Radio. I’m Jay Curry, your host for this segment. We’re going to have a dandy. We’re going to be talking about human resources and how can you get it right. This is a tough one, folks. This is one, if you’re in the business world you need to get this one, you need to get it down. I have here in the studio with me Roger Ferguson who is the creator of an interesting software package that kind of forces a process that will greatly improve how you run your HR operation.
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Wow, Roger, we are delighted to have you hear because this is going to be very interesting. Thanks for joining us.
Roger Ferguson: Thanks for having me.
Jay Curry: So I’m talking to Roger Ferguson. And he’s the creator of Big Five Performance Management Process. What the heck is that, Roger?
Roger Ferguson: What you’ll find in most large corporations even mid-sized or small organizations is total disdain for the annual employee evaluation process.
Jay Curry: Well, I’ll account for that one, for sure.
Roger Ferguson: Yeah, the research shows that most people think it’s terribly overdone. It takes too much time, takes too much expense. And there’s very little pay-off. The juice is not worth the squeeze. Managers have been telling us this for years, but us in HR, we keep driving, thinking, “If they just take it more seriously, if they just get more training they’ll understand how important this event is.” And I think, I’ve come to a realization that it’s not that important and done the best I can to replace it.
Jay Curry: There you go, that’s something we want to hear because the government is big into this and when the government’s big into this and you try to wait to the last minute or do quarterly stuff or annual stuff, you’re going to struggle. And you’ve get a better process. Tell us about it.
Roger Ferguson: Yeah, the Big Five Process was basically created at Chase back in the day, as they say, when we had a very complex business situation. We’re working a huge amount of hours each week and basically didn’t have time for what with considered to be the standard best management practices. So I started sending my boss just a simple email each month that said, “Boss, here are the five most important things I got done last month. And here are my five highest priorities for this month. And, by the way, if you want me to change direction you’d better say so quickly because the train is leaving the station. We’re marching forward.”
Over the years that’s developed and, lo and behold, what happened was when you started collecting this kind of information on a monthly basis, and putting those 12 monthly reports together, they ended up painting a far better picture of an employee’s contribution and the activities. This works because employees get a chance to tell their story now a little better than they do in the annual process.
Taking these 12 monthly reports, “Here’s what I got done last month, here’s where I’m headed next month,” putting them together basically yields 10 data points per month with the manager’s coaching response to each one of those. That’s a 120 data points per year that tell a much better picture of the employee’s contribution than traditional appraisal. “Roger’s a great guy. He helps little old ladies across the street. He’s flexible. He’s a great teammate. I give him a 4.5 on a 5 point scale.” The 120 data points seems to be a much better and a much … You mentioned the government and legal defensibility, this process producing that much data tends to provide an excellent legal defense if you need to move into corrective action with an employee who might charge you later.
Jay Curry: Interesting. It is a software package, so it’s going to make it streamlined, it’s going to make it efficient. How much time does all this take?
Roger Ferguson: The average person using Big Five takes about 10 minutes per month to complete their report. The process originally started in email. I started doing a simple email to my boss. That graduated, we created an Excel spreadsheet. Some people have actually reproduced this process in SharePoint and others.
My consulting clients who I convinced to use this process … One of the things I pitched was you don’t need software, you don’t need an expensive consultant. Just have people tell you their five and five each month. Well, those clients revolted eventually and said, “Hey, we need software. We can’t track all this stuff manually.”
Jay Curry: Well, that plus just regimentation of it, it is a process, you described it in our talkie before we came on that it is a process. And a good process, if you follow it, it works very well.
You mentioned Chase. That’s Chase Bank. That is big, in fact, I’d even say that’s huge. I can understand that. But what about smaller companies, what about the Ma and Pa’s or the mid-sized companies. We have hundreds of thousands of them across Texas.
Roger Ferguson: Yeah, since turning the software on last June, I’ll tell you that most of the clients, the largest client I have at this point has 400 employees. The smallest client I have has 28 employees. Now they’re in the Silicon Valley, you know, in San Francisco, they’re very tech-minded to begin with, but there seems to be a huge market for his for companies who might not be interested in the big box or more expensive solutions that are out there. The PeopleSofts, the Oracles, the Insperity type products that they might be offering. Cornerstone, Halogen, those kinds of products.
This process and software is much more simple, much easier to complete, a breeze to administer by comparison to some of those big box solutions and that’s why I think it’s been so successful.
Jay Curry: Okay. You also mentioned San Francisco. So this isn’t something that’s just Texas, you’re all over the country.
Roger Ferguson: I did a demo yesterday for the largest company I’ve talked to so far out of Turkey. So, yes, we’re getting some world-wide play and it’ll be fun to have an international client.
Jay Curry: And really, when I think of it, now that you mention that, it’s not dependent upon federal laws or state … It’s collecting information, good-management style information. Things you ought to be doing anyway.
Roger Ferguson: It’s management 101 and every place we’ve installed Big Five what we’ve found is this process increases both the quantity and quality of coaching. It increases the manager’s ability to plan and prioritize.
It’s especially useful to managers who have off-site or remote-site operations or locations. Very tough to keep up with what everybody’s doing in the Odessa office, in the Dallas … If you’re Houston-based, in the Dallas … in San Antonio. Big Five is a great way for managers and employees to be communicating about what they’re doing and what they should be doing.
Jay Curry: Let me ask you, Roger, this. I can see CEOs out there saying, “Oh my gosh. We’re going to have to spend more time and have … ” This is really just a monthly reporting, pretty simple, but it collects it all together, refines it, spits it out I’m sure in certain reports … What is it time-consuming wise both monthly and at the end of the year?
Roger Ferguson: I think you make a great point. This process … If you think about your staff meeting, a normal staff meeting, what do you cover? What have you gotten done? What are you working on? One of the reason this process works so well is it parallels that process. It feels very natural. When you’re driving into work what are you thinking about? All the stuff that I have to get done today.
When you finish work and you leave, what are you thinking about? You’re probably thinking about that glass of Merlot you’re going to have when you get home. But you’re also probably taking a minute to celebrate and think about all the things you’ve gotten done. And then, of course, thinking about also the things you need to pass over till tomorrow to get done. But it’s a very natural process and so is Big Five. It basically creates a methodology around that thinking, records it and tracks it so you’ve got it captured.
Like I said, it takes an employee about 10 minutes per month and they get even faster as they begin to think about their highest and best use. “What am I going to put on my report this month? What should I be doing versus what am I doing?” And that’s very valuable.
Jay Curry: It’s just good solid management as it should be with a little automation to throw in.
Roger Ferguson: It’s common sense that we’ve automated. Thank you.
Jay Curry: Well, listen, Roger. If somebody out there wants to learn more about this, maybe look into it, give you a call or … What’s the best way for them to get a hold of you?
Roger Ferguson: The best way for them to reach me will be the through the website which is BigFivePerformance.com and that Five can be a numeral 5 or you can spell it out, there we go, we’re savvy, we’ve got them both covered. BigFivePerformance.com. My personal contact information is there, we’d love to talk to any of you about how to improve your system.
Jay Curry: Roger, thank you for joining us. We’ve got to run off, pay a few bills of our own. Don’t you go anywhere at all. We’re going to be right back.
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Jay W. Curry
Along with hosting “Texas Business Radio”, Jay is a Professional Certified Coach and Master Chair facilitating four Houston-based Vistage peer groups. In addition to being a best selling non-fiction author, the 2015 release of his award winning novel, Nixon and Dovey: the Legend Returns, adds novelist to his title. Jay holds a BS in Mathematics from Oklahoma State and an MS in Computer Science from Kansas State. You can learn more about Jay HERE.