Virgin Money Customer Story

How Virgin Money has shifted mindsets to steer performance success

With Francis Lake Head of Organisational Development at Virgin Money

Company info

Virgin Money have created a business which delivers our unique approach to banking and financial services to our customers through our online services, customer contact centres, Stores and in our fantastic Lounges.

  • Industry

    Banking and Finance

  • Headquarters

    Leeds

  • Company Size

    10,000

Francis Lake

Head of Organisational Development at Virgin Money

Accord­ing to Fran­cis, it was clear that every­one with­in Vir­gin Mon­ey 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 Vir­gin Money’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.”

Fran­cis continued:

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.” 
Sign up for a free trial of Clear Review!
Sign me up to the trial!

Whilst Vir­gin Money’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 Vir­gin Mon­ey 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 Vir­gin Mon­ey 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 Vir­gin Mon­ey 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 Vir­gin Money’s pos­i­tive per­for­mance transformation.

In March 2019 Vir­gin Mon­ey decid­ed to imple­ment Clear Review across the busi­ness to bring to life one of their key ini­tia­tives — pur­pose led feed­back. Our Per­for­mance is the inter­nal name they have giv­en Clear Review, and as you’ve read they want­ed to use this to encour­age more con­ver­sa­tions and strate­gic objec­tive set­ting. Vir­gin Mon­ey want­ed there to be more con­struc­tive feed­back, by cre­at­ing a cul­ture where giv­ing and receiv­ing feed­back becomes a key part in the devel­op­ment of everyone. 

In just one year, Vir­gin Mon­ey — through Our Per­for­mance — has: 

  • Had 52,227 check-ins — that’s an aver­age of 5 check-ins per per­son in 2019
  • Giv­en over a quar­ter of a mil­lion pieces of feed­back through Our Performance. 
  • Fed-back heart­felt ser­vice 65,000 times.

Check-out this info-graph­ic we cre­at­ed to celebrate: 

Find out more about Clear Review

If you want to see all the benefits of Clear Review, sign up for a free trial.

I want a free trial!

Read similar case studies

Wesleyan

Wesleyan performance management with a principle-led approach

Kristy Rowlett, Head of People Development tells us how Wesleyan moved away from a prescriptive performance management strategy to a principle-led approach.

Read their story
Jose alejandro cuffia TC5 P6 Z Rx Db I unsplash

AQA delivers feel-good factor with good listening and hard data

The examination and awarding body AQA used Clear Review to transform performance management and prove its business value to the board.

Read their story