Head of Organisational Development at CYBG
According to Francis, it was clear that everyone within CYBG recognised a need for change when it came to performance management. He explained: “Virtually every one of our employees had had a bad performance management experience – maybe not in the previous year, or even the year before that, but at some point everyone had been scarred by poor performance practices.”
Detailing some of the flaws with CYBG’s existing performance model, Francis pointed to a weighted focus on process over purpose, leading to futile performance scorecards, ratings and appraisals being forced upon both employees and managers, creating resentment and demotivation. Needless to say, the impact on performance improvement outcomes was not a positive one.
For managers, this resentment was compounded by the fact that the existing performance system was failing them as employees, whilst at a managerial level, the same system was also proving to be a huge source of frustration, creating mountains of never-ending – and ultimately pointless – admin. A plan for positive performance change had to be put in place.
Despite the obvious need for a ‘better way of doing things’, Francis recounts that the initial – and perhaps greatest – challenge he and his colleagues faced involved allaying a long-engrained fear of change which had arisen as a result of several failed performance improvement initiatives. He explained:
“We had to change people’s mindset in this regard. This time we were determined to get it right. In particular, switching managers away from viewing performance management as a list of tasks to be completed, and instead, encouraging them to think about how they could help people to perform better. That was a fundamental challenge for us.”
“Before we went anywhere near a new performance management system, we knew that we needed to improve the capabilities of our line managers – both for their benefit, and the benefit of those being supervised by them. We invested heavily in a new management framework, which involved training our managers to get the best out of people. As part of this, we also spent time educating our people as to why frequent feedback and continuous conversations lead to significantly better performance outcomes – a key element that we needed everyone to understand and show a commitment to.”
Whilst CYBG’s new management framework was being constructed and strides were being made to create a more positive performance-focused culture, Francis and his team were working on their sourcing a new performance technology partner.
“Our vision was for a very different, much more simple model, explained Francis. We wanted to do away with individual scorecards, instead focusing on team goals that would foster a culture of teamwork and continual improvement. Within this, our specification was for each employee to have two personal goals – one that they would set themselves, and one that would be set by their manager. We felt this was the best way to include employees and enable them to better manage their own performance and improvement. This employee and manager approach was also key to us fostering the sense of partnership we needed to make this a success.”
As outlined above, the CYBG team was very keen to increase frequency of performance feedback, something that formed a key stipulation in the company’s search for a better performance management system. Building upon this increased frequency, the team at CYBG also wanted feedback to be more simple and concise – both in ongoing ‘check-in’ conversations and quarterly employee-manager feedback meetings. Specifically, employees were asked to cite one thing they like and are happy with, and one thing that could be done better. Francis continued: “This has not only actively encouraged ongoing performance conversations, but ensured they are centred around positivity, encouragement, and incremental improvement.”
With the CYBG team very much focused on creating the right performance framework and investing their time in training managers to optimise its eventual success, Francis knew that the company required a performance system that delivered a simply yet powerful end user experience. One that would not create further complexity and distract people away from what was important: building the right nature of high quality, meaningful conversations. After meeting with Clear Review’s Stuart Hearn and seeing immediate synergies in performance philosophy, Francis and his team decided to adopt Clear Review’s “clean, simple and genuinely intuitive” platform to support CYBG’s positive performance transformation.
Three months after going live, CYBG’s performance data makes for impressive reading with +50,000 goals set, +17,000 pieces of feedback given, and +2,000 ‘check-in’ conversations already having taken place. This demonstrates a very high adoption rate amongst the Group’s employee base – a fact that, combined with internal feedback, indicates people have embraced the new system because they genuinely like it and see value in it. Delighted with the achievements to date, Francis says: “For the first time, everyone is working towards the same goals for the year ahead and that’s a massive step forward.”
The large amount of valuable data now being gleaned by CYBG has also been a welcome means of putting some real metrics to performance management. Managers and employees alike can access this data in real-time and draw very actionable insights from it. Furthermore, these metrics are already being fed upwards to inform better business decision making at the top table, and feedback from CYBG’s senior leadership team has been wholly positive. According to Francis, the level of detail now available to them is improving performance visibility tenfold: “Clear Review’s system can deliver a large volume and variety of high quality, up-to-date information. We can now see overarching trends and patterns across teams, but we can also drill down to an individual level to identify who has got feedback, who hasn’t, who’s got goals and who hasn’t. This empowers us to take corrective action with employees at an early stage, thus limiting the risk of performance dips. On the flip side, this is also enabling us to identify which supervisors may need extra support and training to help them improve as managers and ensure they remain happy with, and committed to, our new performance culture.”
Feedback from managers themselves has also been highly positive to date. Elissa McKinlay, CYBG Area Manager, says that Clear Review is “a fantastic system that is transforming performance discussions. A really positive step forward [for CYBG]”. Francis also notes that because managers are pleased with the new system, they have readily embraced it and are actually proving to be important advocates for it: “They can see the results for themselves in the data and that is helping to further embed the value of the new approach in their minds.”
Citing other benefits so far, the CYBG team points to the flexibility of Clear Review’s system. Francis adds: “The beauty of the new platform is that we can keeping changing and adapting to ensure our continual progress. We can be much more fleet of foot now, which affords us huge competitive gains, and also goes hand in hand with our evolution as an organisation.”
Francis and his team have also been very impressed with the simplicity of Clear Review’s model – a key factor that they saw as crucial to adoption and the success of overall outcomes. According to Francis: “The new model is infinitely simpler than before. With our old process we had 7,000 individual scorecards that sat in people’s drawers gathering dust. We now have 1,000 sets of team goals that are much more concise and have direct actions. The approach, the system, and the language we now have is wonderfully simple yet highly intuitive.”
CYBG’s strong commitment to positively transforming performance culture has also received industry recognition, with the company winning ‘Organisational Development of the Year’ at this year’s HR Network Awards. Indeed, Clear Review has also recently enjoyed some industry recognition of its own via CYBG, after being named the ‘Be Ambitious’ supplier at this year’s Clydesdale Bank Supplier Awards.