Should I Be S.M.A.R.T?

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With the first quarter of 2017 coming to an end, I’m beginning to focus on goals for Q2.

Setting professional objectives can be a daunting task. It’s not easy to come up with objectives that go hand-in-hand with your role and personal development. I’ve been in this position many times in my career and have never found it (and still don’t find it) easy.

Although it can be tough to come up with objectives, it’s probably best not to spend three days scratching your head wondering what on Earth you want to achieve.

Let’s dive in!

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Spring Cleaning 2017: 3 Design Improvements You’ll Like

We’ve decided it’s time for a spring cleaning at Small Improvements. Gloves on, brushes out. But instead of tackling the growing pile of dishes in the kitchen, we’ve turned our attention to improving three design aspects of the SI software.

Improved “Your Reviews” Overview

You might notice some changes to the page where your Performance Reviews are listed. Before, we tried to make some assumptions about where to direct you when you clicked “Your Reviews”  – if a review was in process, we’d send you to edit mode; if none was in progress, we’d send you to the archive.  But this didn’t work well for those who had two or three existing reviews, and the archive was not well-presented either.

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Why We Give Back: Our 2016 Donations

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While 2016 was our best year financially at Small Improvements, we don’t believe that our success operates in a vacuum. A cornerstone of our operating philosophy is that we donate 2% of our license revenue to charity.

This year we gave each employee at Small Improvements $3,500 (US) for up to three charities of their choosing. For our employees this is an opportunity to support global and local causes they identify with, such as women’s rights, animal rights, cancer research, or the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe.

“We’ve always believed in supporting non-profits, and we encourage our employees to make a small difference wherever they can,” said CEO Per Fragemann. “Our annual team-wide charity donation has become one of the company traditions of which I’m most proud.”

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Improvements To Performance Review Signature Quirk

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We set ourselves a goal in early 2017 to fix some annoying bugs and functionality issues associated with some of our features.

One of those pesky UI/UX flaws had to do with the “editable until” field for performance reviews within Small Improvements, and how its relationship to the “sign by” field. The problem appeared when admins would set an earlier date for edits than for the signature.

When the “editable until” deadline passed, the review would lock, meaning it was impossible for both manager and reviewee to sign the review.

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Mark the Manager can now sign off on a Performance Review, regardless of whether it’s been locked down.

We needed to take action. So we made some tweaks and now it’s possible for both the manager and reviewee to sign off on a review, even after it’s been locked down.

We understood more flexibility and clarity was needed here, and appreciate everyone who provided feedback.

Improvements To Secondary Reviewer

The fluid nature of modern work environments means we sometimes find ourselves outside of traditional team structures, working in flat hierarchies or lending our skill sets to ad-hoc projects.

We have a host of features supporting feedback reviews from anyone to anyone, but the performance review is still generally between one employee and their direct manager. The secondary reviewer concept allows admins to add a second person to contribute to a manager review, thereby making it a more complete review. 

We’ve been wanting to improve our current secondary review feature for a while – in particular, to incorporate feedback from some of our customers. While a full overhaul is still planned, here’s what we’ve tweaked to enhance your experience:

  • We increased visibility for the administrator. Admins now have a clear overview of who within the organization is participating as secondary reviewers.
  • We increased visibility for the secondary reviewer. In the past, the secondary reviewer had to implicitly know that a review was happening, i.e., we didn’t notify them of their status. Now, the secondary reviewer receives both an action item and an email – at the start of a cycle as well as during (in the form of a nudge).
  • Notification for the manager. A hint at the top of the review screen will inform managers that a secondary reviewer is also participating.

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5 Ways To Take Your 1:1 Meetings To The Next Level

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Over the course of 2016, we traversed the USA and Europe to moderate our “Helping Managers” panel discussions in five different cities. One commonality we noticed among our panelists was how strongly they advocated for regular check-ins, or 1:1s, with their employees. These open, honest conversations have proven to be beneficial for both parties, but for managers they’re particularly advantageous because they help identify problems early within a team.

There’s a clear difference, however, between simply scheduling regular 1:1s and building a culture of successful 1:1s within your team or organization. So how can you revamp individual meetings within your own company? Below are the five key approaches that top HR leaders recommend.

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New in Small Improvements: Instant Notifications

We’re excited to announce a new way to get all your Small Improvements updates: instant notifications, right in your header.

The new notifications menu provides an at-a-glance way to keep tabs on your account activity. Whether it’s a significant update (like new 360 Feedback) or a minor one (like a reply to your objective), you’ll receive an alert on your SI header.

All notifications will appear in the upper right-hand corner of the header. New notifications show up in red.

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When you click on the notification, you’ll see an overview of recent events.

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We love how it highlights even small events that don’t trigger an email or Slack notification, such as “Someone liked the praise you sent.” That’s not only gratifying, but it encourages further positive feedback.

It’s a small tweak, but it has an impact – we’ve been testing it within our own Small Improvements’ account and have seen a clear boost in engagement. We’re betting you’ll notice a difference, too.