Looking Forward to Performance Conversations: An OpaConnect® Success Story

One of OpaConnect®’s clients, Kids’ Country, effused they finally look forward to performance conversations. OpaConnect® is a progressive performance management platform that brings company conversations to life while everyone in the organization feels connected to the overall mission.

Kids’ Country has been engaging their employees on OpaConnect® for a year now. Executive Director, Stacy Litteral, shared their success and dramatic results with us.  They have learned how much an organization can be transformed by implementing OpaConnect®.

Kids’ Country is a nonprofit organization that provides enriching programs for kids and families that are both educational and fun. The organization’s spirit, leadership style and culture at Kids’ Country calls for an open,  transparent and empowered work environment. Stacy and her team turned to OpaConnect® for a strategic performance management solution, and the results have been “a dream come true.”

Your Product is Your People

“In a service-based business, your product is your people,” Stacy says. Quality of service translates to the quality of your people. Kids’ Country has boosted engagement since using OpaConnect®, offering what Stacy describes as “a way to give regular and consistent feedback in a supported way.”

“Staff are more engaged, happier and fulfilled. They now clearly understand their impact and their worth. Those are happier employees that in turn have happier programs for happier kids. With 200 staff at 15 locations, it’s a challenge to get everyone on the same train going in the same direction, and OpaConnect® has made a huge impact on that.”

TRUST – a Golden Ticket for Strong Company Culture

For Stacy, transparency = trust. The culture of trust at Kids’ Country is built on mutual respect and open communication. “It’s important to me that all levels of the organization understand where and why decisions are made, and that’s how we build trust,” she says.

In an operational culture of collaboration and accountability, everybody’s voice and feedback matters. “It’s not uncommon for a teacher assistant in a first job to come up with an idea that ends up on my desk and gets adopted. We’re proud that we value every voice and every good idea.”

Building that trust is really important, and the best way to do that is through transparency where everyone has a voice and voices are shared,  A key point made by Stacy for those organizations with millennial staff:  “Young workers appreciate the collaborative two-way dialogue. Our younger staff are loving OpaConnect®.

Performance Conversations to Look Forward To

At Kids’ Country they look forward to performance conversations. Their culture of transparency has demystified the performance evaluation process. Compared to the old paper process, Stacy explains, “It’s efficient, it’s fun, it’s a time for people to boast about what they’re doing. Feedback is given with an eye on helping that person improve and identifying opportunities for growth on an ongoing basis. As a supervisor, I find myself asking ‘how can I support you in achieving this goal?’”

OpaConnect® eliminates number rating and uses simple references, of “Behind, On Track or Ahead”.   It’s a perfect solution for the Kids’ Country culture, where Stacy says “for us, behind doesn’t necessarily mean you’re failing, it just means you’re not there yet. We use this tool to drive professional growth and development, not to drive discipline.”


The Kids’ Country strategic plan focuses on retention, employee morale and engagement. “Recruiting and retaining quality staff is a challenge in any company.” says Stacy. To help with retention, they’re implementing a pay-for-performance model this fiscal year – something that was a 5-year goal just a year ago. The paperless efficiency of OpaConnect® provided the systematic performance tracking that made that possible.

“I think that this tool is going to drastically reduce our turnover. Moving to a pay-for-performance structure, with regular conversations and informal feedback – those are going to affect our employee morale. It already has, and I only see it getting better. And that’s money: not having to recruit, rehire and retrain is money savings.”

Options4Growth & OpaConnect®





Calling All CEOs: A Case Study in Transparency

Posted on the walls of their Dubai offices, the consulting and training firm Biz Group, hangs decorative signs that say, “Supporting People’s Personal Growth,” “Believe in Your Dreams,” and “Then Make It Happen.” With interactive art spaces and an open-minded culture of transparency and curiosity, employees are vigorously encouraged to dream, think big, support each other’s visions, and celebrate the successes in their personal lives.

When I visited their offices last month, I was enchanted by their culture and their workplace. Biz Group calls their people “Bizzers,” and the central open area and meeting rooms are colorful, inquisitive spaces that looks more like a kids’ playground than a corporate office. The atmosphere of play reflects The Biz Groups’ style of using game-based strategies to help businesses grow and thrive.

Their reputation speaks for itself – Biz Group has been named a Great Place to Work in the UAE 2 years in a row, the #1 SME Human Capital company in Dubai the last 4 years, and they’ve got an amazing 86% repeat / referral ratio. How do they get such incredible customer satisfaction, and what do they do to earn such accolades?

A Culture of Positive Change

It starts with living their values. At Biz Group, they have incorporated the company’s core values into everything they do. Their values reflect a belief that when people come first, business success will follow. Breaking from stoic business traditions, Biz Group works in a way that’s vibrant, whimsical and inspirational.

Their values speak to the importance they place on people:

  • Act with “Biz” Energy
  • Genuinely care about delivering results
  • Combining strengths
  • Supporting people’s personal growth
  • Tell what you need to hear
  • Believe anything is possible

With a culture that places such importance on the humanity of business, Biz Group takes a bold approach to Learning & Development. In a sense, they reverse-engineer from desired business outcomes. They believe that a company’s key focus should be to hire the right talent and support those employees to reach their goals and full potential. That means smart hires and a dedication to good training.

A people-focused business still needs to meet its objectives. Biz Group believes that L&D should have a measurable impact on business success and profitability. To that end, they’re very deliberate in how training is designed, making sure that learning can be directly linked to measurable business benefits. L&D should be seen as an investment with a measurable ROI.

CEO – Leading with Integrity

Biz Group CEO Hazel Jackson has her “Expectations from CEO” statement posted outside of her office. It’s a concise list of what her team can expect from her in her role as CEO. It’s also a powerful statement on accountability, and sets a tone throughout the organization that transparency and clarity help the company succeed.

The first bullet is “hold relevant ‘management team’ members accountable for the delivery of their expectations”. It’s her job to make sure her team delivers. It’s also her job to make sure everyone in the organization is clear on their own responsibilities and goals. Another one of her CEO expectations is to “deliver … billable hours to help maintain CEO salary as cost neutral to the business”. I love that Hazel is ultimately clear that even she is focused on the bottom line, and what it takes to make the company successful.

People Success Leads to Business Success

Biz Group inspired me. I think back on the huge erasable wall titled “Believe in Your Dreams.” Below the title, there are notes written by employees about their dreams. Their dreams range from “go on a safari in Africa” to “have kids” and “have my own company”.  And right next to the wall of dreams is the wall of “Then Make it Happen” – covered with photos of employees living their dreams.

Bizzers are reminded every day that they provide real value to the company. Together, they’ve created an environment where transparency is the norm – everyone knows what their roles are, how the work they do makes a difference to the bottom line, and how they can support each other to achieve even greater success. Biz Group is a model for how organizations can be profitable, thriving, and a great place to work.

If you have a great example of how your company or team is living out your values, please connect with me at Kirsti@Options4Growth.net.