Human resource pros have come up with a host of methods for integrating HR functions with the participative-management approach. Check out the following tools and techniques for something you can use:

  • Smart hiring. Gary Brown of Springfield ReManufacturing Corp. recommends adding one question to the job application form: Do you know anyone who works here? It's a great reference check, says Brown -- plus the person mentioned knows he or she will be partly responsible for helping the newcomer get up to speed in SRC's demanding environment. Payoff: 5% to 7% reduction in turnover.
  • Peer review. Using special software, employees at TriNet Employer Group rate their team members on 20 or so behaviors, from "work product is complete and accurate" to "radiates a positive attitude toward change and challenge." A peer review results scorecard shows each employee's score compared to company averages. Managers discuss the results with individual employees, teams, or both.
  • Quarterly evaluations (with forecasting). The new evaluation system at one insurance company asks employees to set goals for each quarter, and asks managers to spell out what they'll do to assist people in meeting their goals. The objective: teaching people to forecast and to see the relationship between what they do and what the company does. "People sometimes think that forecasting and evaluations are two different things," explains consultant Suzanne Kreitzberg. "They fail to realize that individual performance is the direct link between what you're doing now as a company and what you hope to do."
  • Skill-based pay. "We were looking for a way to communicate to our employees that increases in compensation depend on increased value to the company," says Bill Friedman of Cascade Bookkeeping. The route to a raise at Cascade: mastering new skills. Employees can ask to be tested and evaluated in a particular competency, typically over a period of six months. If they pass, they get a certificate of mastery and more money.
  • Shift work. Forget assigning people to unpopular shifts; Specialty Blades "moved the first shift earlier and earlier until half the people said, 'I want the second shift," says founder Martin Lightsey. The company's first shift now runs from 4 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., while the second shift starts at noon. "There's a half-hour overlap built in so that we don't have a 'forgotten shift."
  • Surveys. Springfield ReManufacturing Corp. runs regular employee surveys to assess overall morale. One key question: Does your supervisor care about you as a person? "I can relate that one directly to the changes I see in labor turnover," says Brown. "I look at the answers to that one and I compare it to the question, Are you seeking employment elsewhere? It's all right there."

Copyright © 1999 Open-Book Management Inc.