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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5 HR Habits To Ditch This Year

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To close out 2016, we asked HR expert Jason Lauritsen to contribute five posts spotlighting bad habits HR professionals should ditch. Let’s make it a 2017 resolution for HR departments.

Jason pulled no punches and spoke truth to an industry in a state of flux. In order for HR to establish its role within an organization, Jason suggests looking at other departments for innovation and rethinking how to approach classic HR situations.

If you have the time, we highly recommend reading through each guest post because those learnings will prove invaluable going into the new year.

For those in a time crunch, we summarized his work to highlight some particularly important points. Continue reading