Howick Associates
HospiceCare, Inc.


Client: HospiceCare

HospiceCare is one of the leading providers of end-of-life care in south central Wisconsin providing both inpatient and in home care. Leaders of the organization wanted to re-design their performance management process in support of an on-going commitment to employee development and performance and anticipated significant growth of the organization. Employee and leader feedback on the current performance appraisal process showed a high level of dissatisfaction with several elements including 1) a lack of regular and consistent feedback, 2) unclear expectations, 3) a lack of alignment between employee performance and reward and recognition and 4) an inability of the process to support their newly adopted Balanced Scorecard approach to organizational planning.

Background: In our experience, virtually every organization struggles at some point with the process and mechanisms that align employee goals and performance with organizational strategy and results. Surveys show that neither employees nor their managers have a very high level of satisfaction with their organization’s efforts to manage performance. In approaching performance management re-design opportunities, Howick Associates brings together our expertise in leadership and performance management along with our tools in employee engagement and change management to create an approach that both builds employee commitment and buy-in while creating a process that adds real value to the organization and the individual.
Actions Taken:

From the very beginning HospiceCare leaders were very supportive of a “high engagement” approach to the re-design effort. To lead the effort, senior leaders nominated a group of ten employees to make up a design team and provided them with the following charter: Create a Performance Management Process that effectively supports HospiceCare as an organization and all employees to accomplish the following:

  • Clearly define expectations;
  • Provide good feedback;
  • Establish priorities and focus;
  • Support career and professional development; and
  • Create a fair and manageable process.

The design team’s first task was to get input from employees on the current process – what was working well, what wasn’t working and what type of changes they would recommend. This was accomplished through a series of focus groups conducted in multiple locations and at different times to access as many employees as possible. The feedback from these sessions as well as a thorough review of industry “best practices” around performance management were used to form a new set of underlying assumptions around performance management to help guide the new design. From these assumptions, the team identified key features and components of a new performance management process. The design team also identified specific outcomes and effects of a successful process re-design and created a change management plan.

The next step for the design team was to get feedback from leaders and employees on the draft design. Each team member was responsible for getting one on one feedback from staff in their area of responsibility. In addition, presentations were made and feedback gathered at several employee meetings as well as a meeting with the senior leader team. This feedback was summarized, brought back to the entire design team and used to make refinements in the draft design. The final design changes included:

  • Alignment of the performance review year with the fiscal year;
  • Alignment between the organization’s Balanced Scorecard planning process and department and individual objectives;
  • Individualized performance expectations using job descriptions and individual objective setting;
  • Three “formal” review discussions including two performance touch bases and an end of year discussion
  • A 360° leader feedback process;
  • A peer feedback process; and
  • Talent review sessions to assist leaders in reviewing overall performance of staff and ensure consistency of reviews.
Once the senior leader team signed-off on the new design the design team turned its attention to creating the implementation and communication plans for the roll-out of the new process. This included dedicated training sessions for all HospiceCare’s leaders and employees focused on the new process as well as key skills needed for successful execution.
Results from participant perspective:

The performance management re-design has been a big success for us. The use of a design team and the involvement of leaders and employees throughout the re-design process created a commitment and buy-in to the new design that would not have been possible otherwise. We now have a structure in place that aligns individual performance through team performance and up to our performance as an organization. This alignment contributed greatly to our overall success last year. Also, our leaders and employees have responded extremely well to the increased opportunities for feedback, clarity around performance expectations and the ability to see how their individual efforts impact the organization. Pam Peterson, Director of Employee and Volunteer Services, HospiceCare, Inc.

Care to learn more? Give us a call at 608-284-8416 to request more information or to discuss the best solution for your situation.


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4906 Wakanda Drive   •   Waunakee, WI 53597
Phone: 608-284-8416