Integrated Human Resources Management Workshop

Integrated Human Resources Management Workshop – Dubai, UAE

Birches Group is pleased to announce it will continue to run its Integrated Human Resources Management Workshop for the Development Community, which focuses on Job Design and Evaluation, Compensation Management, and Recognition and Reward.  The 4-day session will be held on October 27-30, in Dubai, UAE.

This course is designed for professionals in the development community who wish to emerge as strategic partners of their organization. In the span of four intensive days, workshop participants will learn the fundamentals of how to link four critical areas of Human Resources:

  • Evaluation of Jobs
  • Design of Salary Scales
  • Assessment of Skills
  • Measurement of Performance

The workshop is built on Birches Group’s integrated Human Resource platform – Community™. The Community™ application will be used across the job evaluation, skills assessment, and performance evaluation exercises. Practical exercises and diagnostic activities are also included.

Participants will not only know more about each of these components, but how they can be integrated to accomplish the organization mission. Join us and learn from the experience and expertise of our facilitators and from other participants. 

To know more about the course, please view our training prospectus here.

Just Three Things: How Purpose, Engagement, & Delivery Can be Used to Understand Your Organization and Support Your HR Programs

In our work with hundreds of organizations, many apply long-standing, well-accepted approaches for the management of human resources. The HR function is steeped in traditional methods and so-called best practices for everything from job evaluation and compensation management to performance management. At Birches Group, we believe for organizations to innovate and thrive, they must be willing to try new things. Our Community™ Jobs approach provides a fresh perspective on one of the most misunderstood areas of human resources – job design and evaluation. Good job design and clear job evaluation are critical to fully support all other programs in HR.

How Community™ Jobs is Different

Job evaluation is traditionally a highly technical area of HR, reserved for the “job evaluation high priests” to compile results and share with the organization. Usually job evaluation systems are complex and hard to understand, using many different factors to determine results. 

Birches Group built Community™ Jobs to be simple and transparent, and easily understood by HR, managers and yes, even staff.  We also believe that job evaluation forms the fundamental underpinning of everything HR does – from compensation and recruitment to development and performance.  Every area of HR is impacted by job evaluation and job levels.

Just Three Things

Community™ uses three factors to assess work: Purpose, Engagement, and Delivery, across fourteen job levels, as shown in the diagram below:

The primary factor is Purpose, which answers the most critical question: why does this job exist in the organization? Purpose enables us to examine each role within the organization and determine its primary objectives and how it supports the overall mission of the organization.

The second factor of Community™ Jobs is Engagement, identifying how each job interacts and collaborates with internal and external stakeholders to carry out its function.

Delivery, the third factor of Community™ Jobs, examines how each role plans, organizes and delivers work to fulfill the organization’s mission. It focuses on how a job manages tasks, transactions, services, projects, or programs under its purview.

The three Community™ factors taken together allow us to understand how an organization conducts business across all levels of work, starting with defining the purpose of its jobs, determining their level of engagement, and examining how each of its roles organizes and delivers service.

The Six Indicators

For each of the three job evaluation factors, we have identified two indicators to connect the job directly to the skills and knowledge required for success:

Each of these indicators is used in applying the Community™ Jobs evaluation methodology.  But importantly, the same criteria are also used to develop standards in the other modules of Community™.  Community™ Skills allows organizations to measure experience explicitly by evaluating an employee’s accumulation of skills and knowledge over time.  Community™ Performance provides a standard for measuring achievement by considering how employees have performed against the standard established for their job level.

Job Evaluation in Action

What are some examples of how job evaluation results (job grades or levels) can be used in other areas of human resources?  Here are just a few:

  • Job descriptions.  One of the most unstructured and tedious task managers face is writing job descriptions.  And most of the time, they are just a listing of tasks and inputs.  Birches Group believes job descriptions should be purpose-driven, output-focused and written from the perspective of what the job must deliver.  Our approach for job description writing uses the job evaluation factors and indicators as a basis to describe duties and responsibilities.  Best of all, no job description will ever exceed one page!
  • Salary bench-marking.  We use Community™ Jobs as the job evaluation methodology when conducting our salary surveys in over 150 countries.  Every employer’s jobs are matched to a Birches Group level, enabling a consistent and fair comparison to jobs in the market with similar levels of contribution to the organization.
  • Salary management.  Organizations use job grades to build salary structures, which in turn provide managers with tools to optimize the organization’s competitive position and ensure high levels of employee engagement.
  • Skills assessment.  Managers will often say that employees with more experience should be paid more. But there is no standard for measuring experience other than time, until now.  Using the Birches Group Community™ job levels, we have developed explicit measures for each job evaluation indicator, arrayed over five separate skill levels.  This skills assessment tool can be used for multiple purposes, including pay management, learning and development planning, succession planning, promotion readiness, and ensuring unbiased application of starting salaries, to name a few.

  • Performance management.  The same three factors used for job evaluation – purpose, engagement, and delivery – can be used to measure achievement.  For example:

Purpose – Does the employee have good ideas?

Engagement – Did they listen and adapt to customer feedback?

Delivery – Did they deliver on time with high levels of quality?

Community™ Performance has a structured approach to measuring achievement by linking back to the job evaluation factors.

By focusing on the Community™ Jobs factors — Purpose, Engagement, and Delivery — managing all areas of HR is now possible using a simple, consistent, and integrated approach.

Contact us to learn more about our Community™ approach and platform.

The Road to Virtual – A Blog Series: I – Valuing Performance in a Time of Pandemics

Written by Gary McGillicuddy, Birches Group Managing Partner


There is an old expression: Man Plans, God Laughs. COVID-19 has brought into stark relief the true meaning of unpredictability. While some public health experts tried to warn us, most of us did not see this coming and despite our best efforts do not really know where this is going, at least for now. One area which is directly impacted is performance management.

Frustration with the traditional approach on performance management has been percolating through companies now for several years. Our general reticence over change often keeps us pursuing a course of action well past its true utility.  Now that we have been given a pretty good jolt from our everyday reality, it is a good time to take a step back and ask: how should we value performance through both the predictable life in the office and now the uncharted world of virtual work?

There is an underlying arrogance in the design of classic approaches to performance management that presumes we can articulate a structure of cascading objectives across the corporation linking everyone. Invariably, shortly into the performance year, these objectives must be tweaked and adjusted, and in many instances, ultimately set aside as the business encounters unanticipated challenges and opportunities. 

It is the Birches Group’s view that the weakness of traditional performance management is it has always missed a fundamental truth: It is not possible to have objectives detached from the purpose of the job. With a focus on purpose, the achievements in a job become readily apparent. I may not know what will happen next, certainly very true today, but I do know the purpose of my job, and with that knowledge I should be able to perform and support the broader activities of my unit and my company. It is as simple as that.

Work planning has its value but only against clearly understood purpose.  When inevitable bumps in the road are encountered, focusing on the purpose of the job is the compass that can steer us ahead. Take the case of the HR Director who every year has a different tactical mandate and different projects to oversee. The purpose of the job of the Director is to lead the function in securing talent to the organization’s mission and to safeguard the integrity of human resource management. This focus, this purpose, remains constant.

By focusing on purpose, issues related to how and where I work begin to fade in importance. This is true for jobs across all levels and especially important for ensuring coordination within a team and integration across teams. 

Another fundamental weakness in the more conventional approaches to examining performance is poorly articulated job design. Job descriptions start as little more than blank pieces of paper and managers, with little or no guidance, are asked to set down the reason a job exists. The results are usually vague, focused on inputs rather than outputs, and do not provide a transcending view across the unit let alone the company. The fact is, most managers and staff cannot articulate what distinguishes a job at one level from another. Is there any wonder why managers struggle to assess performance consistently, let alone have a clear understanding of purpose?

In our Community™ approach, we have tried to clearly highlight the milestones of purpose across all levels found in an organization. This framework not only provides a clear foundation for establishing equivalent worth across a multi-disciplinary workforce, it also answers, as applied to a work context, the most important of all questions: Why am I here?

The COVID-19 challenge provides a true moment for reflection. We would like to believe that in a few short weeks, maybe a month or two, we will get back to the way things were.  If so, we would have missed out on a watershed moment in how we approach work and the organization of teams, and how organizations can move from what are essentially workplace and workforce practices from the last century.  Instead, we should all be focusing on how we will continue operating in a new reality, leveraging the benefits of virtual work in place of our historical habits.

The pressure to enable virtual work forces us to be clear about purpose, to free our teams from classic command structures. It forces us to become better at communications since our teams will no longer just be sitting outside our door.  And yes, it forces us to focus on outcomes over inputs since work can no longer be defined as time spent in a particular place. 

Without a crystal ball, at Birches Group, we have been preparing for the world of virtual work for some time. In fact, we had a very robust work from home policy in place covering almost all staff when the impact of the virus began.  When we decided very early on in the crisis to go fully virtual, there were few hurdles to overcome. That is not to say there hasn’t been some nervousness over what the future may hold, but this nervousness has much less to do with our ability to deliver our services but rather, whether our clients will be able to adapt to these challenges.

In future blog posts we will share our understanding about this new virtual world in which we all now find ourselves. It does demand above all else a change in mindset about what we understand as value in the workplace.  The challenge we face is great, but the opportunity is even greater.


Read the next blog here: Because Now, We Can


Gary is the founding and managing Partner of Birches Group.  He has worked in the areas of organization design and compensation management for over forty years.  Following a career with the United Nations, Gary has led the Birches Group consulting practice working with many leading international organizations in over 100 countries.  Gary has pioneered a new simpler way to integrate job design with skills and performance through Birches Group’s Community™ platform.  He is recognized as a global expert on job theory and design delivering workshops and lectures around the world

Integrated Human Resources Management Workshop

Integrated Human Resources Management Workshop – Dubai, UAE
October 14-18, 2019

Birches Group is pleased to announce it will continue to run its Integrated Human Resources Management Workshop for the Development Community, which focuses on Job Design and Evaluation, Compensation Management, and Recognition and Reward.  The 5-day session will be held on October 14-18, in Dubai, UAE.

This course is designed for professionals in the development community who wish to emerge as strategic partners of their organization. In the span of five intensive days, workshop participants will learn the fundamentals of how to link four critical areas of Human Resources:

  • Evaluation of Jobs
  • Design of Salary Scales
  • Assessment of Skills
  • Measurement of Performance

The workshop is built on Birches Group’s integrated Human Resource platform – Community™. The Community™ application will be used across the job evaluation, skills assessment, and performance evaluation exercises. Practical exercises and diagnostic activities are also included.

Participants will not only know more about each of these components, but how they can be integrated to accomplish the organization mission. Join us and learn from the experience and expertise of our facilitators and from other participants. 

To know more about the course, please view our training prospectus here.

Integrated Human Resources Management Workshop

Integrated Human Resources Management Workshop – Nairobi, Kenya
July 29-August 2, 2019

Birches Group is pleased to announce it will continue to run its Integrated Human Resources Management Workshop for the Development Community, which focuses on Job Design and Evaluation, Compensation Management, and Recognition and Reward.  The 5-day session will be held on July 29-August 2, in Nairobi, Kenya.

This course is designed for professionals in the development community who wish to emerge as strategic partners of their organization. In the span of five intensive days, workshop participants will learn the fundamentals of how to link four critical areas of Human Resources:

  • Evaluation of Jobs
  • Design of Salary Scales
  • Assessment of Skills
  • Measurement of Performance

The workshop is built on Birches Group’s integrated Human Resource platform – Community™. The Community™ application will be used across the job evaluation, skills assessment, and performance evaluation exercises. Practical exercises and diagnostic activities are also included.

Participants will not only know more about each of these components, but how they can be integrated to accomplish the organization mission. Join us and learn from the experience and expertise of our facilitators and from other participants.

To know more about the course, please view our training prospectus here

Integrated Human Resources Management Workshop

Integrated Human Resources Management Workshop – Johannesburg, South Africa
May 20-24, 2019

Birches Group is pleased to announce it will continue to run its Integrated Human Resources Management Workshop for the Development Community, which focuses on Job Design and Evaluation, Compensation Management, and Recognition and Reward.  The 5-day session will be held on May 20-24, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

This course is designed for professionals in the development community who wish to emerge as strategic partners of their organization. In the span of five intensive days, workshop participants will learn the fundamentals of how to link four critical areas of Human Resources:

  • Evaluation of Jobs
  • Design of Salary Scales
  • Assessment of Skills
  • Measurement of Performance

The workshop is built on Birches Group’s integrated Human Resource platform – Community™. The Community™ application will be used across the job evaluation, skills assessment, and performance evaluation exercises. Practical exercises and diagnostic activities are also included.

Participants will not only know more about each of these components, but how they can be integrated to accomplish the organization mission. Join us and learn from the experience and expertise of our facilitators and from other participants. 

To know more about the course, please view our training prospectus here.

Introducing the Community™ Platform for Integrated Workforce Management

Most of you know us for our compensation and benefits surveys covering over 150 labor markets in the developing world.  But there is more to Birches Group than just data.

Our Community™ Platform includes four components:

  • Community™ Jobs – A simple and straightforward job evaluation system based on just three factors
  • Community™ Market – A linkage to our existing labor market data
  • Community™ Skills – A tool to measure employee skill levels, linked to job levels
  • Community™ Performance – A 360-degree performance management system, anchored in the Community™ job levels

All the Community™ modules are based on the same three factors which define work:

and make use of fourteen standard job levels (which can be broad-banded):

The application of Community™ job levels provides an organizational framework to examine job relationships both internally and externally and provides a means to determine appropriate compensation levels through Community™ Market.

Community™ Skills enables an organization to assess employee skills with respect to their current job and develop an overall capacity measure for the organization. Community™ Performance measures the achievements of the organization in a given performance year and captures individual contributions towards those achievements.

By extending the factors which establish levels of work through to a definition of corresponding skills and the measures against which performance is assessed, the Community™ platform integrates all human resource management functions from organization design and compensation to recruitment, development, training and recognition in the Skills module and finally reward through the Performance module.

By keeping the structure simple, resting on three factors, it empowers managers and provides transparency to staff.  It removes the opaque nature of job evaluation that has existed in the past, strengthens the utility in setting market comparisons and provides a practical guide to staff skills development and reward.

Birches Group will be rolling out the new integrated Community™ platform to our clients very soon! Keep subscribed to our newsletter for more updates or contact us for more information.

NEW! Integrating HR Workshop- October 1-5, 2018

Birches Group is pleased to announce our first 5-day workshop: Integrating HR. The course combines all three current workshop offerings- Job Design and Evaluation, Compensation Management, and Recognition and Reward, featuring comprehensive discussions around 4 main topics in Human Resources, namely: jobs, markets, skills, and performance.

The curriculum focuses on an integrated approach towards these four areas because we recognize that HR professionals in any sector could only truly emerge as strategic partners within their organizations if they are not only able to overcome challenges in each of these areas, but also be able to link them together.

The workshop is built on Birches Group’s integrated Human Resource platform – Community™. The Community™ application will be used across the job evaluation, skills assessment, and performance evaluation exercises. Participants will also be exposed to a number of practical exercises that are designed to allow attendees to quickly apply their learnings. Diagnostic exercises will also help participants examine their own based on the practices raised for each module of the workshop.

Lastly, a case study of a fictional international NGO country office, has been developed based on Birches Group’s extensive work in this sector. This fictional organization, WeHelp, will serve as a common reference for the different practical exercises.

Join the workshop and learn from the expertise and experience of our facilitators and from fellow participants.

Click here to learn more about the course.

View our training brochure here.

Why Jobs, Not Objectives, Matter When Measuring Performance

There is a lot being written about these days about the ineffectiveness of performance management.  Some writers suggest that we just give up, throw in the towel and get rid of performance appraisals entirely.  Others claim to have a better way.  Many focus on the fact that performance discussions and feedback are actually more useful and more critical than the appraisal itself.

Of course, we also all know that even though appraisals can be difficult or tedious, they are necessary.  All people need to know how they are doing, and they need to know this in a qualitative manner measured against well-understood, objective standards.  Staff usually put great effort into their work.  They need to know how their employer values this effort.  To paraphrase New York’s famous ex-mayor, the late Ed Koch, they need to know “how they’re doing.”

The reason performance management is such a mess is because we are assessing the wrong things!  We have made it into a pseudo-science, artificially dense and hopelessly complex.

In classic performance management, the employee develops a set of objectives, often aligned with corporate initiatives that are set at the top of the organization and cascaded down to all levels.  Through these cascading objectives, employees focus on the critical activities which management believes will deliver the business results desired during that year. This approach fails to recognize that work is dynamic.  Objectives change, become superseded, and new priorities emerge.  Using cascading objectives for work planning has value, but as part of performance management it is highly flawed.

So how can the employee get a fair and useful evaluation?  In many organizations, there will be some negotiation to remove unmet objectives and to substitute with tasks that actually got done.  Companies spend inordinate amounts of time “calibrating” ratings in an attempt to promote some uniformity which in the end further undermines transparency and management accountability.

So what is the alternative?

Assess Performance Based on the Job

We think performance can be effectively measured by considering the job instead of the cascading objectives.  Think about it.  The context of the job defines expectations.  These expectations remain constant through various operational challenges and changing priorities.  You always expect your finance officer to ensure integrity in managing financial transactions.  You always expect your brand manager to be seeking opportunities to promote your products and bring you market insights.  These expectations have been designed into the job role.  In each and every interaction, staff are judged against three simple measures:

  • Does this individual know what they are talking about?
  • Is this person listening to me and understanding my needs?
  • Can I count on this person to deliver to my expectations?

From the lowest position in the company through senior management, each and every day we are individually judged against these three basic parameters, which are informed by the job roles we encumber.

Here is a simple example:

Remember the last time you ate at a restaurant?  There was a server who took your order, brought your food and looked after you from the moment you were seated until you finished your meal.  You have no idea what objectives were agreed upon between the server and his or her manager.  But I bet you have a very good idea of the server’s performance for your meal!

For example:

  • Were you greeting politely when seated?
  • Were the daily specials explained and were all of your questions about the menu choices answered efficiently and effectively?
  • Was you meal well-prepared and delivered promptly?

You get the idea. You can easily answer the above questions about your server at a restaurant.  And if the answers were all yes, I think you’d agree that the server’s performance was excellent (be sure to leave a nice tip!).

We’ve assessed performance in this example based on our expectations of the job – the things good servers in restaurants are expected to do .  Objectives are not needed because we know how to assess performance based on our expectations of performance for the job.

Performance can be measured against three factors – Purpose, Engagement and Delivery.

Click to Enlarge

Think about our restaurant server again.  The purpose of the job is to take your order, serve your food and maintain a high level of satisfaction through excellent customer service.  For engagement, the server must communicate effectively with each customer, as well as the kitchen, busboys, and other restaurant staff, to ensure that everything goes well for your meal.  Delivery is probably the easiest to understand – was the order delivered on a timely basis, accurately and in a way that makes the dining experience a pleasure for the customer?

The Birches Group Solution

At Birches Group, we’ve built our Community™ suite of applications around the three core factors of job evaluation – Purpose, Engagement and Delivery – mentioned above.  Our Community™ Performance Management (PM) module uses the underlying job levels to create a consistent, graduated scale on which to rate performance based on the expectations of the job, rather than the completion of specific objectives.  It’s a 360° approach which includes self-evaluation, manager assessment and feedback from peers and customers (internal and/or external to the organization).

The best part about Community™ PM is its simplicity.  It is easy to use and takes just a few minutes to complete a review, but provides both employees and managers with robust feedback suitable for a meaningful performance discussion.

Let’s not give up so fast on performance appraisals.  Instead, let’s try managing them differently.

We have — and it works!  Contact us to learn more.