I Can't Bare to Look

How to take the Dread out of your Performance Review Process.

Workplaces have known for a long time that Performance Reviews are rarely popular, but how deep does this dislike go? We have been finding that lots and lots of managers (even Human Resources professionals) have a great deal of reluctance to participate actively in the Performance Review process. Many are downright frightened of the process.

In a supervisor development workshop earlier this year I had an HR manager confide that, even though she would not admit it to her program director, she hated their Performance Reviews. Hate is a strong word. And this program’s Performance Review system is actually one of the better ones we have seen. Comments like these are not uncommon. We continue to hear of workplaces dumping their review systems or consultants recommending that we do away with reviews altogether, probably a reaction to these sentiments.

And probably not the best idea. Perhaps a baby and bathwater dynamic.

Where does this dislike/fear come from and is there a way out?

One of the things that complicates this thing we call a Performance Review is the fact that we are often trying to accomplish too much at once with a review. This may contribute to the awkwardness that often characterizes the process. Our goals behind the Performance Review may include compliance issues, advancement concerns, discipline, goal setting, engagement, or good old-fashioned documentation. Not all of these goals align well and often require differing skill sets for our supervisors.

Perhaps the biggest contributor to the unpopularity of the Performance Review process is the interaction itself. We continue to see many supervisors who lack the conversation and coaching skills to embrace the Performance Review process. And this uncertainty is communicated without saying a word.

Fear not! There are great solutions, solutions that lead to improved embracing of the Performance Review process.

  • Teach supervisors to start early and build up the frequency of interaction around performance and goals so that the review is, well, just that, a review. Show that quality trumps quantity.
  • To back this up, teach and support relationship-building and coaching skills to all supervisors. Do not assume that they were born with these skills. Show them that these interactions can, with practice, become more pleasant and rewarding.
  • Structure your process so that it is a two-way street and employees know that they are also responsible for improving the conversation around individual and team performance. We unwittingly communicate more of a one-way street in many of the Performance Review and Employee Engagement conversations.
  • Make your review systems as simple and user friendly as possible. Of course, no system is perfect. Accept that supervisors may complain about the Performance Review tool.
  • As these complaints surface, ask supervisors to check their faith in the Performance Review process. When we see leaders shift from “let’s get this over with” to “how can I help my employees stay charged up?” the lights really go on!

After all, with good performance and positive goal-setting conversations comes improved engagement, more connection to the group and the job. This is stuff we all want, stuff that makes the difference for retention and productivity and, perhaps most important, makes the work more enjoyable.

We would love to hear your stories of the good, bad and ugly of the performance review process. Please check in at bswift@cascadeemployers.com.

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Target BW

Whether a target-date retirement fund is the best choice for an investor depends on a few different factors, including the degree to which the investor wants to manage his or her own retirement portfolio. Below are some pros and cons of using target-date funds.

Pros

  • One-stop shopping: For an easy-to-use, all-in-one retirement savings vehicle, a good target-date fund is tough to beat. It allows investors to focus on one of the most important pieces of the retirement savings puzzle—how much to save—rather than getting bogged down in making investment decisions.
  • Professionally managed allocations: Fund shops typically put a great deal of thought into the design of their target-date series. That doesn’t mean target-date funds are perfect, though, or suitable for all investors. Some used allocations that were overly aggressive when the 2008 market crash hit, resulting in heavy losses for their investors, including those who were close to retirement.
  • Automated adjustments: Target-date funds adjust their allocations automatically as the investor’s retirement date approaches. No other commercially available investment product is designed to do this.
  • Reasonable fees: Target-date fund fees are generally in line with those of other mutual funds. Also, target-date funds built around index funds tend to be cheaper than those built around actively managed funds.

Cons

  • Lack of control: For investors who want more control over their investment or allocation choices, target-date funds might not be the best option. By choosing one, an investor is essentially limited to a given fund family’s funds and allocation framework. Some investors may not welcome these constraints.
  • Added complexity if used with other holdings: As an all-in-one vehicle, target-date funds are built to serve as the only retirement holding you need. However, if you’d rather not put all your retirement savings into a target-date fund and/or wish to add satellite holdings, this will mean recalculating the asset allocation of the entire portfolio yourself to make sure it’s in line with your needs.
  • In-retirement shortcomings: Target-date funds may become inadequate once the account holder reaches retirement. For example, those hoping to use assets invested in a target-date fund to generate income to cover living expenses in retirement may be disappointed. In fact, many retirement series put target-date investors into conservatively invested retirement income funds once the retirement date is reached.
  • Despite these potential drawbacks, for many investors a target-date fund may be a great choice to save for retirement provided it comes from a quality fund shop and operates using quality parts—that is, quality underlying funds.

This is for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial planning advice. Diversification does not eliminate the risk of experiencing investment losses. Holding a portfolio of securities for the long-term does not ensure a profitable outcome, and investing in securities always involves risk of loss.

Article contributed by Matisse Capital.
For more information contact Dan Sholian
503-210-3002 | Dan@matissecap.com

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Coleman Agriculture - Hops

From hops to hazelnuts to seed crops and a variety of vegetables, for the Coleman family, farming has always been more than a livelihood – it’s a way of life. Did you know…

  1. Coleman Agriculture is a 6th generation family owned and operated farm with headquarters just south of the small community of St. Paul, Oregon. It all started in the spring of 1847 when James Coleman, his wife Frances and his infant daughter Anna left behind their friends, family and everything they knew in Iowa for the promise of a new life in Oregon. Finding their way via the Oregon Trail, the family was one of the first to settle in the St. Paul Mission, putting plow to earth and beginning their legacy.
  2. Six generations later, the Coleman family has grown and expanded across much of the Willamette Valley – some of the most fertile land on the planet. Over the past 170 years, the crops and farming methods have changed, but their innovative spirit and impassioned work ethic remain deeply ingrained in their family and business. They now manage over 8,000 acres of land.
  3. When it comes to hops, Coleman Agriculture is one of the most diverse hop growers in Oregon, producing over 2 million pounds, from 22 distinct varieties, every year. 95% of US-grown hazelnuts come from Oregon and Coleman accounts for a large chunk of that total production. Since first planting hazelnut trees in 1969, the family has harvested over 20 million pounds of nuts. Rounding out their primary plantings are seed crops and vegetables, varying the acreage and types of vegetables planted each year to increase the biodiversity and overall health of the soil.
  4. Believing that by combining hundreds of years of traditional farming know-how with modern sustainable methods, the Coleman family strives to utilize their land in a way that best serves everyone. That’s why they partner with conservation-minded folks like Salmon Safe, Oregon State University and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
  5. So how does a multi-generation family stay intact? The obstacles to survival are not uncommon in multi-generational farms. According to partner Liz Coleman, the game-changer was the family’s investment in a new business structure. Through robust efforts in organizational development, the Colemans have formed an ownership board that works closely with the company’s president in overseeing the crop management of its 12 entities. Today the land remains owned by individual family members but decisions about farming fall on the ownership board, board of directors and its non-family president.

Cascade is proud to feature this member, producing the highest quality products in a responsible and sustainable manner, while remaining true to themselves and their heritage.

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Home is where the heart is

We’ve all been there: new job, new co-workers, new expectations. We walked in on our first day, sat down, and were bombarded with a stack of paperwork and policies we were expected to read and familiarize ourselves with. As the hours ticked by, we couldn’t wait until the dreaded “first day” was over and we could move forward and do the job we were hired to do.

But what if it wasn’t like that? What if onboarding was less of a “task” and more of an interactive game you could play to familiarize yourself with your surroundings, get to know your co-workers and learn about the company?

Creating an interactive onboarding process can improve new employees’ impression of the company and help to better communicate their part in the larger scheme of the operation.

As soon as an applicant accepts an offer of employment, there should be an immediate and ongoing process to keep them engaged. This has the impact of helping to prepare them for their new position, as well as giving them confidence that they made the right decision when they accepted the job.

Prior to the first day of employment:

  • Send a welcome letter on company letterhead along with some sort of company logo’d item, “swag,” or pre-hire gift.
  • Send a welcome email to the new hire with a copy of their job description, employee handbook, information on the company’s mission, vision and values, etc.
  • Inform them what they can expect in their first week and remind them of any items they need to bring on their first day. Any paperwork you can collect prior to hire will make the process much simpler, overall.
  • Ask about workspace needs, including technology required for the job, or just their daily office items you should procure (chair, headset, footrest, etc.). Their new work space should always be set up prior to their first day on the job, including all computer access and logins.
  • Ensure the hiring manager has established a training plan for their new hire. The employee should know what they are expected to achieve in their first week, month, 90-days, up to their first year of employment. Laying out this ground work will guarantee the employee understands the expectations of their position, and will allow the manager to evaluate their progress more easily.
  • Announce the new hire to the rest of the organization. A simple email with the employee’s name and job title will prepare staff to welcome their new co-worker.

Make their first day engaging:

  • Set them up with a check list in the form of a scavenger hunt. The hunt should include not only required paperwork, but also contain tasks that force them to check out their new surroundings and meet people. For example, ask them to identify a specific item in the break room, or tell you how many wall clocks there are in the building. It is a fun way to get to know the office and to space out the mind numbing amount of paperwork new hires typically complete on their first day.
  • Allow them some time to study the company policies, then team them up with other co-workers and make your way through the necessary information like a game show. Jeopardy and Family Feud are great options for this kind of game.
  • Have a lunch or meeting that includes everyone, if possible. During this time, employees can take part in an ice breaker activity that encourages interaction. It’s a great way for the new hire to familiarize themselves with their new co-workers, and for the co-workers to get to know the new employee.
  • Schedule time for the new hire to meet with as many co-workers as possible in the first couple weeks. Getting an opportunity to meet with co-workers from various departments can help them better understand the role their position plays in the grand scheme of things, and they will feel more included.

There are many ways you can liven up the onboarding process. These are just some of the ways you can integrate the necessary evils of the hiring process into a fun, ongoing exploration of your business and those who work there.

If you have questions or would like some guidance, we’re here to help!

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