Save Money Cut Carbon is a seven-year-old scale-up business. Jennifer Baker, now Chief of Staff, and leading the People and Engagement Process, came into the organisation in a coaching role. She soon realised that, with the organisation maturing and the head count growing, they were ready to replace their legacy HR procedures with some more structured policies. Performance management was a key area.
“This is a fast-moving business. As we grew, job roles were changing. People had to adapt and develop their responsibilities in a changing environment. What I found was that people were starting to lose clarity on what their objectives were. They weren’t sure where best to spend their effort. And this concern came from both the team members and the management team.”
SMCC had no formal performance management process in place. Jennifer began to look for a system to help the business put some structure around PM. From the outset, she was focussed on improving performance. Her research led her to Clear Review.
“We knew we wanted this to be about performance. And I had a strong idea of how we should do that, but I didn’t want it to be grounded in paper work. I didn’t want us to be wrestling with version control across documents and getting bogged down with admin. We’re not a huge company, our resources are limited and I didn’t want this to make tons more work for everyone.”
“As soon as I saw Clear Review, I knew this was going to be simple for people.”
Jennifer compared Clear Review with other vendors, but kept coming back to one point: the Clear Review offering was simpler and more intuitive. She conducted training for each level of the business — leadership team, manager layer and employees — over the course of several days. The training was, first and foremost, aimed at helping the business to understand the purpose of good performance management.
“Clear Review provided a lot of materials that I used in the training process. That was really helpful. It allowed me to focus on the messaging: that this is about getting everyone aligned, about understanding what our goals are and what we all need to do to get there.”
Jennifer had real confidence in the simplicity of the system. She conducted some short sessions on navigating the system, but her main advice was “Just click, you won’t break it.” She was reassured to see how quickly the business took to Clear Review: it let her spend her time setting up half-day sessions with each user group to talk about how to provide quality feedback and explore the sort of culture that they wanted.
Although the team has embraced Clear Review and is developing a more consistent and productive feedback culture, it’s the clarity of goal-setting that the organisation is finding most valuable. The senior leadership has been encouraged to be far clearer with their objectives.
“Clear Review is a fantastic way of helping us focus on the right things. We’re very driven by ideas, we often have great conversations about how we could shake things up or move the business on, but those objectives are a vital anchor to bring it back to reality. Language is very important: when we set goals for individuals, we try to use language that reflects the importance of bringing things back to the objective.”
SMCC advises that employees set their own check-in meetings, and Jennifer is delighted with the way that the CEO has set the example for the rest of the organisation.
“He loves the tool and gives feedback regularly. It shows the managers and teams that this is the way we want to do things. We’re committed to improving performance through those clear objectives and feedback, and he shows everyone how it’s done.
SMCC’s Jennifer Baker — What we in HR can learn
“You will need more of a behavioural change with some people than others. Be patient. Some people will need you to take the time, sit down with them and show them the benefit. You need to help them understand how it will make things easier and more effective for them.”