My Experience

When I heard that HR would be exploring changes to our employee review process, I made a mental note to follow up on that later in the year. I’d only ever been an end user of this process. I didn’t know what an annual review should look like, but I could see the same room for improvement that Red Hatters voiced on internal mailing lists and at the water cooler. I work in IT, not HR, but am passionate about building up people, morale, and community in my workspace. I’d even poked around HR and considered transferring departments. So, you can imagine how excited I felt when I was offered a spot on this project team out of the blue. I got to step into the world of HR full-time for three months and have a greater impact on the 11,000+ people of this company on a larger scale than I ever imagined.

I had a lot to learn

We all did. That was the beauty of it for all of us. It was like a sudden baptism into a completely new field. I didn’t know a 9-box from a shoebox. We researched best practices from trusted resources like Gallup, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, etc. We interviewed people from other companies known as pioneers in this space. Trends have shifted from one daunting annual performance review to a series of ongoing conversations.  Rather than a two-way channel between the boss and employee, companies are moving to a 360 feedback model with input from peers and customers.

The underground was busy- with best practices

What’s awesome is that this is already happening at Red Hat. Throughout our real life crash course in HR, we were talking with Red Hatters. Many had enhanced our existing process with additional conversation points and documentation. Peer feedback loops were already in place. One interviewee told us he wouldn’t need our prototype because his peers are already fully committed to their peer feedback system.  What an awesome challenge for my project team! We learned that groups across the company are already bought into industry best practices and that we just needed to align them with a process, which supports that energy.

Our motley crew rocked

Our team came from three different departments, and all of us had very different roles. We each brought a unique perspective to our conversations and decisions. My specialty was UX.  Others were software development, marketing, and employment branding. Whether it was corporate impact or reporting, our backgrounds were apparent during the discussion. The group was stronger because of the different lenses we brought into our analysis of each decision. We learned how engineers commonly like to receive feedback. We learned what managers do behind the scenes to use our reviews in their strategic workforce planning. We learned about prototype software. This kind of cross-discipline approach to a challenge is rare but wonderful. It’s an effective way to approach well-rounded problem-solving. Had any one of these departments solely owned this Innovators Project, the product would have been limited to the vision of our disciplines. By coming together with open minds, we understood the people of our company on a completely new level and made a better solution as a result.

It is clear why each of us was chosen for this project. We have been through the current process and experienced its challenges. We know Red Hat’s employees and culture.  Each person chosen for this team was insightful, hard working, and cared deeply about the problem we were solving. We are the kind of people who lose sleep over a merely passable job; we have to do a great job. We differed personally and professionally. From hedgehogs to trendsetters to toddlers, we probably wouldn’t have bonded if we’d met as strangers at a party. Yet, we quickly became a tight group where we were free to be our individual selves.

I digress

Our part of the project has ended (ideation and socialization). Efforts are underway in HR to bring our new process to life. I can’t wait to see the official implementation of this work and know that I made a difference in the well-being of people across Red Hat.

This project was an amazing opportunity for me. I am grateful to have been chosen to work at the corporate level to have such a direct impact on every person at this company. The Google Ventures Five-Day Sprint Process was revolutionary to me. I see how this approach generates depth and creative thinking that we can’t replicate on our own. For more on this topic you can read my previous article(s) in the series:

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Last updated: April 24, 2017