Altitude, Attitude and Alignment: Dispatches from O.C. Tanner’s Annual User Conference

By Cliff Stevenson, Principal Analyst, Talent Management and Workforce Management

At O.C. Tanner’s annual summit this week in Park City, Utah, one of the big stories is the general release of their Align product.

Align is a tool to help facilitate better performance development for individuals and teams. I enjoyed listening to O.C. Tanner executives discuss the philosophies that informed the development of Align, such as the need for more personal one-on-one discussions, the value of frequent and meaningful recognition and discovery, and the culture transformation required to create a more coaching-oriented atmosphere. These are all things that have been covered in Brandon Hall Group’s larger market research (which I’ve written about once or twice…).

However, as great as it was to see a product addressing the needs of organizations in a changing world of work, having the opportunity to speak with someone who’s actually used the new product over the last year (as part of an early pilot program), was even better!

Keri Smith, Director of Human Resources for HHHunt has been using Align at a company that isn’t exactly the type of place we usually picture when we think of an organization embracing rating-less performance management. Instead of a knowledge-worker-filled, West Coast tech firm, HHHunt is an East Coast real estate development and management company with a massive blue-collar workforce that isn’t exactly the target demographic for a useless $400 juicer … if you follow my meaning here.

Even when I write about the sweeping changes happening in PM. I usually use examples of larger organizations or highly-adaptive startups. Yet despite not fitting into a neat stereotype of a forward-thinking organization, HHHunt had the support of its top leaders and line employees (something that Keri assures me is necessary for lasting, positive change in this type of project) to create something truly different and useful for their employees – a frequent check-in, rating-less model centered around employees rather than on data collection for administrators.

They even created a new marketing campaign around the initiative called Cme (which looks much cooler in its graphical representation) to emphasize the greater visibility this type of performance management brings to employees. Playing with that marketing concept, they list five main pillars of this new approach: connect, collaborate, challenge, coach, commit.

I’m assuming HHHunt had not been reading our research extensively before instituting this program (although doing so is always a good idea!), so I was very pleased to see that coaching was a major part of their program, since our most recent research revealed that most organizations have not taken that step when creating a continuous conversation-type model, but those that had were much more likely to attain success.

Seeing the organizations and vendors that support them listen to and understand the needs of their employees is encouraging and from a research perspective, validating. Personally, it gives me great pleasure to see that not only did O.C. Tanner and HHHunt do what the research suggested they should do, they also did the right thing for their employees and both companies see continued success as a result.

Perhaps it’s the mountain air, but these types of stories make me feel optimistic for the future of performance development.

Cliff Stevenson, (Twitter: @CliffordDarrell email: [email protected]) Principal Analyst, Talent Management and Workforce Management, Brandon Hall Group

For a free copy of Brandon Hall Group’s new Performance Management research summary, please click here.

For more information on Brandon Hall Group’s research, please visit

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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.

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