PerfectHome case study

How a business going through big changes found energy and purpose in performance management

With Kevin Hollingsworth, Head of People and Engagement, PerfectHome

Company info

PerfectHome is a rent-to-own retailer with a mixture of office-based and on-the-road employees.

  • Industry

    Retail

  • Headquarters

    Birmingham, UK

  • Company Size

    250

Per­fec­tHome start­ed out in 2006 as a store-based retail busi­ness sell­ing prod­ucts via week­ly pay­ments. In 2017, the orga­ni­za­tion went through a com­plete piv­ot and switched entire­ly to an online mod­el. There were a lot of changes to the way we were staffed. The busi­ness worked very hard to retain as many peo­ple as it could. Lots of peo­ple need­ed to reskill, to switch from a store mod­el to a dig­i­tal one. At the same time, ongo­ing per­for­mance man­age­ment became less of a pri­or­i­ty as we worked to adapt. 

In 2018 we were acquired by a new own­er, we had a new lead­er­ship team. I joined in April 2019 and imme­di­ate­ly start­ed to look at the HR func­tions, how we could improve people’s expe­ri­ence at work, how we could make sure we were devel­op­ing peo­ple as well as we could.

I ran a pro­cure­ment process and looked at four ven­dors. I thought Clear Review stood out from the begin­ning but I realised how impor­tant it was for every­one to buy into it, so I involved 15 senior man­agers in the process and cap­tured their feed­back too. I want­ed to make sure that peo­ple were bought into the plat­form from the start. The man­agers’ feed­back was very pos­i­tive and we made the deci­sion to go ahead. 

My phi­los­o­phy is always let’s com­mu­ni­cate more”. We launched at our quar­ter­ly road­show, and we real­ly explained the vision of the busi­ness: how we want­ed peo­ple to grow and develop. 

Fol­low­ing on from that, I iden­ti­fied a list of peo­ple across the orga­ni­za­tion. I rep­re­sent­ed pret­ty much every depart­ment, at every lev­el. I want­ed 15 advo­cates that would help me lead this with­in their teams. 

It’s tempt­ing to go for the peo­ple who you think will embrace some­thing like this, but I want­ed to get the cyn­ics on board as well. I delib­er­ate­ly chose peo­ple who I thought might be scep­ti­cal of check-ins and con­tin­u­ous feed­back. We did three ses­sions with those 15 peo­ple: two hours per ses­sion, giv­ing peo­ple the chance to play with the sys­tem, ask ques­tions, get a feel for how it works. I want­ed them to under­stand that this isn’t an HR ini­tia­tive, this is a way we want to oper­ate as a business. 

Those ambas­sadors are now hold­ing ses­sions of their own where they walk peo­ple through Clear Review. It was hard work get­ting that advo­ca­cy set up, but the fact that it’s now work­ing in this way has real­ly shown me the val­ue of the pre­lim­i­nary work. 

But orga­ni­za­tion-wide, the biggest change so far has been in goal-set­ting. In the past, peo­ple might have used objec­tives as a sort of to-do list. We’ve done a lot of work to show peo­ple how their objec­tives apply to orga­ni­za­tion­al goals. How can we cut costs? How can we do things more effi­cient­ly? If you’re real­ly clear on those goals, every­one can see how the jobs they do, every day, are a part of that. 

We send out a com­pa­ny-wide email reg­u­lar­ly and, for the first time, peo­ple are adding likes and com­ments to it in Share­Point. It’s ener­gis­ing people. 

The board are doing ses­sions on Clear Review with their own teams, not the HR team. They love that con­nec­tiv­i­ty between strate­gic goals and everyone’s objec­tives. Hav­ing them in those ses­sions — not run­ning them, nec­es­sar­i­ly, just being a part of the team — com­mu­ni­cates to every­one how seri­ous­ly we’re tak­ing this. Like I said, it’s not an HR thing: it’s how we work now. 

Some peo­ple find that hard­er than oth­ers, but if you take the time to explain where they fit into the wider scheme of things, you see the benefits. 

We had advice from the Cus­tomer Suc­cess team to launch the feed­back func­tion by ask­ing for feed­back about the Clear Review sys­tem. We had already launched a recog­ni­tion tool ear­li­er in the year and that went well, so peo­ple quick­ly embraced the pos­i­tive feed­back func­tion. The chal­lenge now is now to teach and embed the con­struc­tive feed­back cul­ture, to help peo­ple under­stand its impor­tance and what they need to do to get the most from it. It’s not about neg­a­tiv­i­ty, it’s about sug­ges­tions and grad­ual improvement. 

His­tor­i­cal­ly our com­mu­ni­ca­tion wasn’t always good, we didn’t talk enough as a busi­ness, and those ambas­sadors have worked incred­i­bly well for us. Nor­mal­ly I’d deploy the HR team to do this but those advo­cates have done that job for us. 

The truth is that this project comes down to a bina­ry choice. Is it bet­ter or worse to talk to employ­ees more often?”. When you put it like that, it’s simple.