It’s the start of the year, which means its time to evaluate what went well, and where you or your team can improve. Whether you are a department of one or many reviewing your strengths and weakness is a critical component for setting yourself up for future success. While companies tend to have a general format for yearly evaluations, CI departments present an interesting challenge. Most CI functions work with multiple departments, and often rely on these departments assisting in providing valuable information. This means that CI professionals must assess not only how they function but how effective they are when working with other departments. When assessing your CI functions capabilities there are three main areas you should focus on; role, involvement, and accountability.
Since CI often fulfills multiple roles within a company, we find that it helps to start evaluations by defining the various roles. Evaluating who is part of your team, and that various roles and function’s each person fulfills. Starting by defining each person’s role, lays out the framework of the current department and how gives you a road map for how it currently functions.
Knowing how your department currently functions (not just how you think its functioning) enables you to identify inefficiencies, overlaps, and gaps. Some questions to ask:
- What need does the CI function fulfill at your company?
- How is your function defined currently, and how should it be defined in the future?
- How effective is the departments current structure, and where is there room for improvement?
- What roles are currently held by team members, and what gaps are there?
Involvement refers specifically to your stake holders, who you consider to be part of your department, and identifying departments/people the CI team works closely with. These people are the ones you collaborate most often with, and while you are not evaluating their performance, you can evaluate how effective you are at working with these key players. This is also a great time to look at where CI has the biggest impact when it comes to providing insight to departments, and when results should loop in higher management. In this phase it important to think about:
- Who is part of your department, and who should be part of your department?
- When working with another department, who are the key players that should be involved in a project?
- What is the optimal team size for collaborative projects?
- How effective are we with defining people’s roles in these projects?
- Are there other people we should be working with to help us achieve our goals, and help other departments achieve their goals?
- What departments or teams does CI work provide the most value to?
- Are we focusing our time in the most effective spaces?
- When should higher management be looped into projects? And how effective is our communication with them?
The accountability stage is where everything comes together to create a course of action. In this stage you will help team members set personal goals, and curate a short list of team goals for the year (no more than 5 big picture goals). Setting team and personal goals helps to focus and guide decisions throughout the year. Once you set personal and team goals, its time to decide on how often you should check-in. An easy schedule to remember is 30-60-90. What should happen in the next 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 6 months, and 9 months?
- What check point checkpoints should we have throughout the year?
- What is our plan of action for bringing about change?
- What are our goals for the year?
These three areas of evaluation can be used as a framework, or within a process you already have in place. In either situation the focus of the evaluation should remain on the person/team’s role, involvement, and accountability. An evaluation that is focused will allow for consistency with questions asked, and forces one to keep the conversations going in a productive and meaningful direction.
Author: Aimee Boivin, Marketing Specialist Fletcher/CSI