There's been a new construction project underway at the CityPlace Tower just outside of downtown Dallas to increase its office capacity and add to its current commercial activities. Nobody knows for sure yet what this major redevelopment project will look like at the end of this project, but the investment of $200 million in it certainly signals major amenity upgrades and parking space additions. The main investor in this property is Highland Capital Management, one of the top private equity firms in Dallas, although they did also receive financing from New York based firm Acore Capital. Highland Chairman and CEO James Dondero has said this project is about strategically renovating that urban area and carrying out what he believes the commercial property was begun for back in 1987.

As a firm, Highland Capital Management currently has $15 billion in AUM and prides itself on being one of the "most experienced global alternative credit managers." Real estate is just one of their many investment strategies in their portfolio which has large funds in healthcare, high-yield credit, fixed income investments, and other structured products and unique business situations. Highland Capital has also entered into some global partnerships for increased funding in some of their holdings including forming a major powerhouse with South Korea's Stonebridge Capital in 2017.

James Dondero has been with Highland Capital Management for just over 25 years going all the way back to its founding. He holds several accounting and investment management certifications including being a CPA, CMA and CFA. He received his bachelor's degree in finance from the University of Virginia, and then for several years worked as a credit and corporate bonds analyst for American Express bank. Dondero's work as a portfolio manager there led Protective Life Insurance to hire him as Chief Investment Officer to oversee the founding of a subsidiary asset management firm, and in just a few years Dondero turned this subsidiary into a $2 billion AUM operation. With the help of fellow executive Mark Okada, this subsidiary grew and in 5 years spun out from its original parent company becoming known as Highland Capital. Over time Dondero was elevated to Chairman of the Board of Directors of Highland and it's affiliates which include NexBank and Nexpoint Advisors.

James Dondero has funded research, formed committees and helped host conferences at the George W. Bush Presidential Library on different business and financial topics including a recent exploration of cryptocurrency. He has also helped start other business initiatives including serving as a trustee at the SMU Cox School of Business in hopes of helping fund an atmosphere conducive to entrepreneurship. Dondero has also established the Highland Foundation and has made a commitment to giving back to the community, and that included bringing Linda Owen on as head of the firm's charitable giving division. He also has sponsored veterans events and offered up to $1 million in grants for the Family Place, a domestic violence shelter in Dallas. He was later given the ReuNight Honorary Chair award at an event hosted by the organization.

While technology enables modern businesses to achieve profound levels of success, technology comes with a price. Various innovations have enabled the use of a remote workforce, improvements in communication and data sharing, globalization, e-commerce, connectedness through Internet 2.0 and numerous other benefits. These and other benefits of technology, however, have decreased the need for human labor in some cases, have negatively affected the environment and have had other consequences.

The largest and most influential companies have the ability to make a huge impact based on how they address these problems. In addition to the direct effects, their efforts may spur change in smaller companies. With China’s population exceeding 1.4 billion people, major corporations in this country are closely watched., which is the Chinese equivalent of Amazon, had made huge strides in the right direction. Richard Liu, who is the company’s founder and current CEO, actively guides his company toward completion of incredible improvements.

The company, which is also known as JingDong, had humble beginnings with several retail locations scattered across the country. However, when the SARS epidemic broke out, Richard Liu was forced to make strategic changes to the company’s operations. He transitioned the company to an e-commerce company, and today, it serves approximately 300 million customers regularly. More than that, its total customer base exceeds a billion people.

This e-commerce giant’s business model requires it to maintain large warehouses and a massive fleet of vehicles for deliveries. Liu recognized the impact that this business model has on the environment, and he took action. For many years, JingDong has regularly published a Corporate Social Responsibility Report to communicate its efforts and goals directly to stockholders and to the public. It outlines completed projects and initiatives that are planned or are in progress. recently released a new report, which outlined the completion of a large solar panel project in its Shanghai warehouse. Because of the magnitude of this project, the company dramatically reduced its overall reliance on fossil fuels for energy and its carbon footprint. This e-commerce company is not stopping there. It intends to complete other similar projects so that it covers a total of 77 square miles of its facilities with solar panels within the next 11 years. By doing so, JingDong would have the world’s largest system of roof-mounted solar panels.

This is only one of numerous projects outlined in this year’s report. For example, is actively transitioning its fleet of delivery vehicles to green energy vehicles. It is in the midst of a rollout of approximately 5,000 green vehicles to replace outdated gas-powered vehicles. The green vehicles include tricycle delivery vehicles that are powered by solar energy as well as vans and trucks that run off of hybrid, electric or hydrogen power. Within two years, the company anticipates that its entire fleet will be comprised of green vehicles.

In addition to these efforts, the company is moving away from the use of cardboard delivery boxes, which have a one-time use functionality. These are being exchanged for green boxes that can be re-used multiple times before being recycled. The company is also making a social impact by supporting some of China’s poorest rural communities. It has created 25,000 jobs in these impoverished areas to revive local economies. At the same time, it has improved delivery service to these areas to ensure that residents there had access to all of the products they need.

Richard Liu actively guides his company in these areas, and he continues to look for new ways to innovate positive change. His efforts have an immediate impact on the local economies and environment, but they reach farther. Companies around the world are watching his efforts and are being inspired to take positive steps toward change as well.

The traditional system of annual performance reviews may have once been effective, but it’s clear that conventional performance evaluation practices have long been outdated. Only 5% of HR leaders believe that annual reviews are effective, and forward-thinking businesses have already found new ways of monitoring employee performance, regardless of whether they’re located in a traditional office setting or working out of a coworking space.

Continuous performance management is no longer an isolated trend, but rather one of the most promising answers to the problems raised by annual reviews. CPM provides a new type of evaluation that takes into account new trends in the workforce that have changed the way employees and managers approach performance.

Why Are Annual Reviews Outdated?

A number of factors have contributed to the creation of the modern workforce, and today’s workplace is very different from the one that allowed annual reviews to become a standard practice. There are now more than double the number of telecommuting employees than there were in 2005, and that trend will likely continue over time.
The relationship between employees and managers has also changed as workers are generally no longer satisfied by a simple source of income. The modern employee wants to play a larger role in his or her company and isn’t satisfied with the traditional top-down perspective embodied by an annual performance review.

How Does Continuous Performance Management Work?

Continuous performance management involves a much more hands-on approach than the traditional review system, so it requires a coordinated effort between employees and managers. It may take both sides some time to get used to the new feedback dynamic and feel comfortable with the process.

Rather than giving all feedback at the end of the year, managers should schedule regular one-on-one meetings with each employee that include discussions regarding individual performance. This allows managers to be more involved in each employee’s approach and gives them a chance to discuss performance issues before they become more serious.

The Benefits of Continuous Evaluation

CPM also enables employees to make small, incremental changes to their performance rather than being forced to take in large amounts of information all at once. They can also give other employees positive or constructive feedback on a day-to-day basis, making everyone more active in the performance evaluation process.

In an annual review, much of the information presented is outdated or no longer actionable. Continuous performance management makes opportunities for growth available every few weeks and allows them to be presented as soon as they become relevant. Roughly 90% of employees would prefer to have this feedback given in real-time.

Annual performance reviews may have once been an effective system, but that work environment is now a thing of the past. Continuous performance management is the best way for both large and small businesses to adapt their evaluation practices to the needs of the modern workplace.