As part of its transformation programme, The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) identified that its performance management system was not capable of supporting the organisational change that formed an integral part of the overall business strategy. Staff surveys had indicated that employees were also unhappy with the existing scheme and wanted more regular input into their performance and development. CIM introduced a plan of regular one-to-ones and feedback in 2016 but were unable to measure progress or ensure a consistent approach that was aligned to the business objectives. The system was paper based, admin heavy and did not seem to be inspiring managers to really engage with their teams.
CIM’s Associate Director of People, Sarah Lee-Boone, recognised that it is only regular and meaningful performance conversations that truly move the dial. Specifically, CIM needed a higher level of communication and frequent feedback in order to facilitate an organisational shift to a more agile and continually evolving entity.
Sarah knew that this would be a big change for managers and team leaders and was keen that this didn’t become another ‘HR initiative’ – ownership and empowerment were key to success. At the same time as developing a new management behavioural framework and organisational vision and values, it seemed the right time to launch this new way of working, aligned to a new vision for the organisation. It had to be something that people really understood, bought into and was embedded into CIM’s culture.
Sarah had been aware of Clear Review for a while and researched the product thoroughly. From a methodological point of view, the alignment was perfect. After years of experience as an HR director and performance management consultant, Clear Review founder and CEO Stuart Hearn has strong views about that the core elements of good performance. He believes these are threefold: quality conversations; real-time feedback; and near-term performance and personal development goals. These are the three elements that the Clear Review system was built upon, so when seeing the software in action Sarah quickly concluded that it was the right product for CIM; a light and simple digital framework to support and enable the new approach.
Discussing Clear Review as a product, Sarah said:
Clear Review is a really effective product. Its creator, Stuart Hearn, had experience within a senior HR role so understood the challenges, and this really shows in the product, in terms of ease of use. It’s extremely simple, which means we can focus on helping people focus on the personal development aspect, rather than training people on the system itself. It’s also extremely cost effective for the value we get from it. That’s largely because the system has the core of what we need, without loads of extras that are not relevant to us, and often result in giving the end user a more confused experience. Finally, it’s incredibly easy to implement and manage from an administration perspective.”
The impact of the change has been huge, with the new approach empowering managers to have meaningful relationships with their teams in a more open, one to one way. 77% of CIM people have had a quarterly check-in and in Sarah’s words:
The organisation has been through a significant period of transition and I can honestly say that without our new performance coaching model, aided by Clear Review, we would not have been able to achieve what we have. Clear Review has become integral to our people management strategy and has become the central place for manager/employee conversation, feedback and performance focus. It’s about building trust and empowering employees, and we’ve really managing to achieve that. Managers don’t feel like they’re being policed, and we’ve got more purpose and alignment than we’ve ever had before.”
Discussing some of the previous challenges, Sarah said:
Previously, we had introduced the concept of CPM with a paper supported system. However, whilst it meant that many meaningful discussions were taking place, we could not extract data to demonstrate this.”
With the core project of engagement and alignment going well, the next issue to tackle was data generation and visibility of what is happening from a performance perspective. Clear Review reports provide real time information on who is and isn’t having performance conversations, where feedback is and isn’t being provided and the split between positive vs constructive, as well as the ability to see the how many goals are being set, broken down by team and division. This data has allowed for a simple but insightful KPI dashboard to be built, which is regularly viewed by senior management, right up to Board level.
We’re excited about how far we’ve come. However, it’s important to remember that building a high-performance coaching culture is an ever-evolving project, not a final destination.”
- It’s important to focus on the ‘Why’ as much as the ‘How’. The system is very intuitive and the need for system training is minimal. However, this is a big shift in culture for many people and it is important have a clear purpose about where you’re aiming to get to – this affects the way you articulate and influence to bring about meaningful, long-term change.
- Align to the business strategy and the key stakeholders’ agendas. Focus on where the business is going and show clear links between how a more agile and focused approach to performance management will help deliver on the organisational goals.
- Talk to people. Senior stakeholders, your HR team, but most importantly the management and employee population. Ask questions, understand, ask more questions. You can then summarise the core themes, speak them back, and build your methodological platform. Engagement surveys are also a great way to gather insight.
- Managers want details. A great way of articulating the ‘how’ is by getting a free trial from Clear Review and showing them what the new model looks like in reality. This demystifies the process and proves that you’re looking to make things easier, not demanding more administrative effort.
- I wanted to move away from performance development being an HR initiative and Clear Review provided lots of support in terms of a comms & training. We are a relatively small organisation with limited resource, so for us this support was vital in getting us up and running. Clear Review is extremely simple to use, so you can arrange some brief sessions or drop-in clinics, supported by the Clear Review user guides, which are concise and informative. I can’t stress enough though, focus on the on the cultural aspects of why you’re doing what you’re doing, and the technology will work out.