Changing The HR Culture, One Coaching Session At A Time

Patriot Federal Credit Union has replaced annual reviews with quarterly coaching sessions that focus on value and values.

Patriot Federal Credit Union ($545.0M, Chambersburg, PA) has embarked on a new course in internal culture and collaboration, including changing how it evaluates employees and how employees evaluate themselves.

Starting in the second quarter of 2016, the Keystone State credit union replaced lengthy, pro forma annual reviews with quarterly, documented summations that begin with employees answering three simple questions:

  • What have I accomplished since our last coaching conversation?
  • The one thing I can do in the next quarter to bring the most value to Patriot is
  • How have I demonstrated the credit union’s core values?

There are some differences between the manager/director and staff forms, with the former focusing more on projects, long- and short-term goals, and opportunities facing their areas.

But for both, the idea is the same.

We wanted an approach to employee development that was more in line with the culture we’re building here, says Mike Dougal, a longtime HR performance appraisal system specialist who joined Patriot as chief human resource officer in 2013.

Mike Dougal, Chief Human Resource Officer, Patriot FCU

Mike Dougal, Chief Human Resource Officer, Patriot FCU

Here Dougal shares some thinking on the new endeavor at Patriot FCU.

How has the new evaluation process worked so far?

Mike Dougal:We’ve only been using the forms for one quarter, so everyone has only had one quarterly coaching session.

For some employees this is the first time they’ve been asked to document their accomplishments, so it’s definitely a learning process. However, we’re confident employees are focused on the right things, the right conversations are happening, and employees are demonstrating our core values.

We’re also pleased our management team members are more focused on what should be happening beyond the next quarter as well as the opportunities and challenges facing their areas.

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What kind of resistance did you encounter for the new process? How did you address it?

MD: Our previous system did not include any self-appraisal or self-reflection, so the new system expects more from our employees. As expected, some employees took to it seamlessly while others had to be nudged a bit.

Our employees were ready for a more collaborative approach to performance management.

Mike Dougal, Chief Human Resource Officer, Patriot FCU

However, we were clear from the beginning we did not expect perfection and the new system would take a few cycles for everyone to become comfortable with it.

How does this change your compensation structure?

MD:We implemented a spot award program prior to the quarterly coaching forms and we encourage all supervisors to reserve a portion of their merit budget for spot awards throughout the year. These can range from $50 to $1,000 and reward exemplary performance.

As for annual pay adjustments, they’ll continue to happen in the first quarter of the year based on two variables: the employee’s performance over the past year as documented on the quarterly coaching form and their compa-ratio, which is their position in the pay range.

What are some best practices/lessons you’ve learned so far?

MD:It all begins with culture. Any performance management system must integrate with the culture of the organization and the philosophy regarding employee relations.

Five years ago, Patriot was not ready for a dramatic change like this; however, we’ve been working on our culture for several years and felt our employees were ready for a more collaborative approach to performance management.

Also, support from the executive team has added to the success of the rollout. Brad Warner, our CEO, not only supports the new system, but he also visited each of our branches and departments to talk about the quarterly coaching forms, new expectations of employees moving forward, and how the new approach fits within our culture.

August 15, 2016

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