As leading experts in Employee Engagement, WSA is keen on ensuring that we do not just talk the talk, but that we walk the walk. So, when we listened to the employee voice through our annual engagement survey and heard that our employees were yearning for growth and development opportunities, which also happens to be the #1 driver of retention in our massive WSA data database, we took action.
The first thing we did was evaluate what growth and development would look like in 2022. We are all familiar with annual performance evaluations/reviews and their typical execution: A manager will use a form and rank an employee’s performance on a scale from” the employee does not meet expectations” to “the employee exceeds expectations. The manager’s assessment is then shared via a feedback meeting with the employee.” In some cases, a salary increase or a job title change can be tied to the overall score of that employee’s evaluation. Both parties sign the evaluation, and then work-life resumes – often resulting in little or no tangible results from the efforts.
This is precisely what we wanted to avoid at WSA. We wanted to take the annual performance review process and adapt it to be a real, tangible, and most-of-all exciting opportunity for all employees. We want to talk about an employee’s growth and how they can take personal ownership of their individual development in a way that becomes exciting for everyone and – do we dare say – adventurous. Thus, we deployed what we refer to as GDA – an employee’s personal Growth and Development Adventure.
As we began to implement our vision, we wanted to ensure that we could answer four essential questions.
- What is it?
- What’s the goal?
- What resources align to it?
- How does it go into action?
What is it?
We defined it as an individualized approach that allows each WSA employee to discuss their individual strengths, areas of personal interest, personal growth and development opportunities, and goal setting with their Direct Manager. There was emphasis put on GDA being a conversation – even more specifically, an ongoing conversation, with this being a starting point.
What is the goal?
The outcome goals are widespread. We want to enable and equip WSA employees for their own personal development and future growth so that they remain engaged and feel valued as employees for their unique contributions. We also want to foster an environment for open, honest, two-way communication. In addition, we wish to continue fostering a sense of belonging at the company, team, and individual levels of the WSA.
What resources align to it?
Multiple resources were identified as being necessary to aid in the conversations. First and foremost, were questions for Managers to use as conversation starters. We outlined an initial roll-out plan, as well as an ongoing implementation plan and follow-up plan – all to ensure that the intention was not a one-and-done meeting that would stymy any intended outcomes.
How does it go into action?
Last, we really dove into how to launch the adventures. It was imperative that everyone has not only a clear understanding of WSA’s GDA but also that managers were well-equipped. As a part of our initial roll-out, there was a manager training to help prepare and understand how to navigate these conversations.
As we communicated to our employees what GDA was and what they could expect from it, we emphasized their individual ownership of their own GDA. This means that they will drive the frequency of follow-up conversations, as well as their desired path toward achieving their personal goals.
The knowledge and experiences that we gained as a result of launching GDA conversations could be described as nothing short of outstanding. In the course of these conversations, it became unveiled how specific employees felt personally recognized and valued for their contributions. They brought to light areas of interest that directly fit within opportunities for the growth of the company. They also revealed the areas in which employees felt hurt or lost, which provided a window into the areas in which improvements could be made. The conversations left both the employees and their managers feeling energized, excited, and engaged!
While WSA’s GDA is a more casual approach to the annual performance review, we learned that its value was priceless!!
Karrie Rosa, Implementation Service Leader, WSA