impactnews: Kelly Mitchell on HR Compliance as a Government Contractor

The Business Monthly

The Business Monthly

impactHR’s Kelly Mitchell, in a column published in the July issue of The Business Monthly (MD), says companies that have succeeded in winning and conducting government contracting work know it’s a hard road to travel. The bottom line in doing business with the federal government means adhering to a complex and comprehensive array of rules and regulations. Chief among those are in the human resources (HR) area. While there are many HR regulations government contractors need to comply with, Mitchell details four main areas that are critical to heed if you are a federal contractor or aim to become one. Learn more.

impactHR Celebrates Ten-Year Anniversary Milestone 

Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchell, Principal, impactHR

impactHR, LLC is proud to announce it’s celebrating its tenth year in business providing strategic HR solutions to companies and organizations in the Baltimore-Washington corridor and the mid-Atlantic region. impactHR, founded in 2006, continues its focus on serving small and midsize companies and organizations in an array of industry sectors, including healthcare, engineering, construction, retail, education, IT and technology, manufacturing, hospitality and more.

“It’s hard to believe we’re celebrating our tenth year in business,” says Kelly Mitchell, Founder and Principal of impactHR. “We owe our success, without doubt, to our clients first as well as our partners and friends. It’s been our great joy to work with so many people and help them make sound decisions that empower their employees and, in turn, help drive business growth. It continues to be a true honor serving the needs of our clients and working to become their trusted HR advisors. On behalf of all of us at impactHR, we look forward to many more years of service to our clients and playing a part in helping our regional communities prosper.”

To mark impactHR’s tenth year in business, Mitchell says the company will make special donations to two Baltimore-based non-profit social services agencies: Good Shepherd Services, a non-profit residential treatment center for adolescents who suffer from emotional and behavioral problems, and Baltimore Child Abuse Center, which provides comprehensive services to victims of child sexual abuse, trauma and other adverse childhood experiences. Learn more.

impactInterview: impactHR’s Karen Walsh on new trends in performance reviews

Karen Walsh

Karen Walsh, Senior Consultant, impactHR

Goldman Sachs and several other large companies are changing their longtime methods of conducting employee performance reviews, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. The Journal notes that Goldman, for example, will begin giving employees “specific directives on improving their work rather than grading performance for the previous year.” Karen Walsh, Senior Consultant at impactHR, sat down with impactnews this month to provide perspective on this new development and on related HR issues.

impactnews: A growing number of large companies are changing their method of performance reviews from annual ratings to one in which continuous feedback is given (more informally) between co-workers and with managers. How do you interpret this trend?

KW: I’m not surprised there’s a change taking place here. I would imagine it’s in response to the fact that so many companies find performance management to be an onerous task. It takes a lot of managers’ time and if you’re doing it only once a year – and if you have a set of 20 to 30 employees and you spend hours doing each one – all of a sudden you’re spending a whole month doing performance management and nothing else.

So, that doesn’t do a lot of good. At the same time, you don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water. You don’t want to get rid of the things that are working just because there’s a new idea or philosophy on performance reviews. I think the right answer is somewhere in the middle of those two – right between the annual grade sheet and receiving continuous feedback.

What we’ve learned is that people respond to continuous feedback. We know people appreciate being told they did a great job on a project, on a document, or in a meeting. People like to know they did a good job and that that’s appreciated. So whether it’s a thank you at the end of the day or “wow, thanks for kicking in,” that goes a long way.

So, absolutely, continuous feedback makes a world of difference. And more frequent than annual feedback makes a big difference too. This doesn’t have to be a formalized evaluation – it can be a conversation about “hey, how do you think that last project went?” Or ” you really stepped up, thank you for learning this new program in order to get this process done, that was really a time-saver.” That kind of feedback is so informative for employees and it develops and solidifies that employment relationship.

I do like the idea of being prospective instead of 100% retrospective, but I do say that past performance is the best indicator of future performance. And that having concrete examples helps. So, if you can say, “gosh, when that client called and questioned your judgment on the candidates you were sending over, I heard in your voice, it seemed like you really got upset. What can we do next time so that conversation goes better?” That is both addressing the specific issue, and it’s looking back and planning ahead. It takes “in the moment” management to be able to do that. So, the more feedback you can give on regular basis – whatever that cycle is determined to be – really makes sense.

impactnews: What do you see as the path forward on this development around performance reviews for small to midsize firms?

KW: The key for small and midsize companies and organizations in regard to performance reviews today is still about documentation. When we’re looking at employment situations that ultimately don’t work out, such as a termination, it makes more sense to everyone if we have documentation that shows a performance trend. If you have your documentation and can show you shared the company’s performance expectations and behavior expectations – and if those employees failed to live up to your expectations – then you have to make sometimes difficult decisions.

If you don’t document these conversations or these facts and things escalate and then just make a termination decision at the end, that’s when you leave yourself open potentially to legal proceedings. Companies that do performance reviews well have a culture of setting expectations and goals on a corporate level. Then they funnel them down, while setting individual expectations and monitoring performance.

impactnews: Brian Kropp, who’s with the advisory firm, CEB, recently was quoted in The Washington Post: “The speed of work now just dramatically outpaces the speed of HR processes. The idea of an annual performance review . . . just doesn’t make sense any more.” Is this true in your view and how can organizations adjust to this?

KW: I would say larger companies are slower to respond in regard to making changes to their HR processes and with performance reviews. Smaller companies, just because there are so many fewer layers, can make some quick HR changes in response to issues they encounter. As an HR consulting firm, we’re able to work directly with the decision-maker, the CEO, or the president, which means change can be effected quickly when we have direct access to the senior people involved. In our case, we work very closely with business owners to customize performance reviews. This helps ensure this process of evaluating employees is relevant to the corporate culture, the needs of the company, the needs of the senior executives on an on-going basis.

Barbara Nicholson Joins impactHR as Executive Assistant and Office Manager

Barb Nicholson

Barb Nicholson, Executive Assistant & Office Manager, impactHR

impactHR has announced the hiring of Barbara A. Nicholson, who joins the company as Executive Assistant and Office Manager. Barbara brings 18 years of professional office management, accounting and human resources experience to her new position. In this role, she will be responsible for providing a wide range of office management and support to the impactHR team including accounting, HR and office facility management. Barbara’s primary focus, in addition to other duties, will focus on managing impactHR’s accounting processes and performing general executive administrative duties.

“All of us at impactHR are delighted to welcome Barbara to our growing team,” said Kelly Mitchell, Principal at impactHR. “We’re excited to have her be a key part of maximizing service to our clients and helping drive our continued business growth. Barbara’s significant business and administrative background is a perfect match for our needs. We’re grateful she’s coming on board with us.” Barbara holds a B.A. in Business Administration with a minor in Accounting from the University of Maryland University College. Learn more.

BLS Unveils Graphic Tool to View Evolution of Industry-focused Job Market, 2006-2016

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently introduced an interactive way to see the evolving picture of job openings, hires and separations in major industries in the U.S. over the last ten years. Through graphically displayed bubbles, you can view easily the health of a specific major industry’s monthly job market (covering mining-logging, construction, manufacturing, trade-transportation-utilities, information, financial activities,professional-business services,educational services, health care-social services, leisure-hospitality and government) from 2006 through 2016. Learn more.

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