New Navigation now available

The Small Improvements sidebar navigation has been overhauled and is now ready for prime time. As of today admins may test the new navigation for themselves, and then enable it for their companies. Starting May 24 we’ll enable the new navigation everyone.

Beyond the May 24 there will be a grace period during which admins can opt out of the new nav. Anyone in the middle of a review cycle, or not able to update internal documentation in time, can decide to postpone rolling out the new navigation for a few more weeks.  We will however start updating our own documentation in the next couple of days, and we encourage everyone to give the improved navigation a spin!

As posted before, here’s an overview of what is new and improved:

Dedicated “your content” section

Until now the sidebar was split up strictly by module, showing submenus depending on the user’s role. An individual contributor would see their own review in the Performance Review menu, while a manager also saw their team’s reviews in an additional menu item.

We’re now dropping these role-specific menus, moving to a much cleaner and simpler layout: Independent of role every use immediately sees their own content – 1:1 meetings, objectives, 360s, reviews — in one section:

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New “Team” and “Company” sections

All team- and company-wide content is now located in dedicated “Team” and “Company” pages. These new pages provide immediate insight into what happened in the person’s team and in the company by defaulting to an Activity tab. Both pages are available to all users. Inside these pages, the Activity and Objectives tabs are available to everyone, while additional tabs for reviews and 360s are displayed to managers and HR only. This makes it much easier for managers to think of their team as a whole.

Also, the staff directory is now available (and a bit streamlined) via the Company screen as well.

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Clearer access to cycles

Once you select a tab for Reviews, 360s or Objectives, we’re now listing all cycles, rather than immediately diving into the most recent one. This allows users to make a conscious decison what cycle to focus on. New or casual users will find the cycle overview approach much more natural to work with. Experienced SI Power users (who want to keep jumping straight into a cycle) can skip this new screen by using the “Jump to..” shortcut on the top-right of the screen.

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Objective browser repositioned

The Objectives browser becomes far more prominent in the new navigation. When selecting the Objectives tab on either the Team or Company view, non-managers are shown the Objectives browser immediately. Managers and HR default to the cycle list, but can easily toggle the display to “Browse” mode at the top of the screen. This makes objectives of peers and managers much more visible than before, further strengthening our Objectives feature.

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Take it for a ride

We’re inviting admins to either test the feature for their own account, or to enable it for their entire company.  To test it for yourself, head to “Your Settings” and enable new Navigation:Screen_Shot_2017-04-24_at_13_49_33

To enable it for the entire company, go to the Admin -> Features screen, and tick “New Navigation”.

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Once you enable it for the entire company, everyone will get to see a welcome-screen that explains the changes:

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We’d love to hear your feedback!

We’ve conducted plenty of in-depth user tests and several beta customers have used the  new navigation as well, but we’re always keen to learn on how to become even better. Do you like the new approach? Are you keen to roll it out to your entire company? Or do you have concerns or reservations? Let us know your thoughts at product@small-improvements.com.

Introducing 1:1 Meetings In Small Improvements

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We believe the secret to flourishing employees is a culture of consistent, honest, open communication.

That’s why we’re thrilled to introduce you to our newest update: 1:1 Meetings. Starting now, you can schedule 1:1s directly in the Small Improvements main navigation window. 

Define your meeting agenda with Talking Points, and then add Meeting Notes following the 1:1. We’ve made it easy to maintain a clear line of communication throughout your working relationships. That’s because we feel regular meetings are one of the most crucial components of successful performance management. Our lightweight calendar integration helps ensure 1:1s occur with regularity. Each 1:1 Meeting page has its own permanent link that can then be copied into a calendar appointment.

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4 Steps To Curing Performance Headaches

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Management has its ups and downs. When everything goes well, it’s a great job. Your team is happy. Your boss is happy. That usually means you are happy.  

But it’s not always like that. It’s when things don’t go well that we earn our money as managers.

The down times for most managers are often tied to an underperforming employee. Poor individual performance can quickly become a drag on the team’s performance, morale, and your time if it’s not handled quickly and effectively.

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You’re Not Too Busy For 1:1 Meetings

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Getting that first promotion to management is a big day.

It represents a new title, a raise (hopefully), and more influence. You are now part of “management.”

That excitement can quickly fade once you realize that as a manager, you have a lot more to do, but the same amount of time to do it. It’s easy to get consumed by the busyness of being a manager.

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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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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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