Through the course of this eBook, we’ve established why annual appraisals don’t work, explored the concept of Continuous Performance Management as a practical alternative, addressed some of the common concerns with moving away from appraisals and understood why software is a vital component of effective Continuous Performance Management. In this final part of our eBook, we’ll look at how to successfully make the transition from traditional annual appraisals to Continuous Performance Management through 7 practical steps.
Step 1. Start now, don’t wait for the culture to change
It may be tempting to wait until you have undertaken a culture change programme before moving away from annual appraisals. However, with research showing that 95% of managers are dissatisfied with their organisation’s existing performance management system, why continue doing something that just isn’t working? As the HR Director of Adobe commented on their transition to Check-ins, “this is a journey and not a destination”, so the sooner you start taking action, the further and faster you will progress on that journey.
Step 2. Find out who is already having regular performance discussions
You might feel that implementing Continuous Performance Management will require a significant shift in attitude from your managers. Whilst this will no doubt be the case for some of your managers, virtually every organisation has certain managers who are already having regular one-to-ones with their team members and are good at giving feedback. So find out who these people are within your organisation, consult with them on your new approach, involve them in rolling out the new processes and get them to champion your cause.
Step 3. Engage your senior leadership
To make continuous performance management a success, you will need to get buy-in from top management and have them to lead by example. Whilst most senior leaders dislike doing annual appraisals, they may be nervous about the implications of stopping them, particularly if you are planning to get rid of ratings as well. They are likely to have questions about how you will identify high and low performers and how pay and promotion decisions will be handled. So make sure you support your case for continuous performance management with research-based evidence and have answers to these questions readily available. This eBook should provide most of the information you need. To help you further, you might wish to:
- Share this 5 minute video with them which outlines the business benefits of continuous performance management.
- Ask us to present to them on the concepts and benefits of Continuous Performance Management and the organisations who are already successfully doing it. We’ll do this at no cost – simply contact us to arrange a date.
Step 4. Sell the benefits to your staff
If managers and their team members are going to actively engage in having regular Check-ins and giving frequent feedback, you’ll need to ensure that they understand “what’s in it for me?”. For managers, the benefits include having a better performing, more productive and motivated team, reduced staff turnover, ability to delegate more and spending less time fixing mistakes. Make it clear that it will ultimately save them time.
Some organisations who have made Continuous Performance Management a success have put the onus on team members to ensure that their Check-ins happen, rather than on managers. Therefore you’ll need to sell the benefits to team members too. Emphasise that they will have more ownership over their work, they will get more timely feedback and more one-to-one time and support from their manager. But they will need to be proactive to get these benefits.
There is plenty of research evidence throughout this eBook that you can draw on when selling the benefits to staff. However, it’s even more powerful to draw on successes from within your own organisation. So where you have found teams that have already been having regular one-to-ones and giving feedback on an informal basis (see step 2 above), make sure you share these success stories and communicate the benefits that they have achieved.
Step 5. Provide training and guidance
Good quality performance conversations and feedback rely on the participants having the necessary skills. So re-invest the time you currently spend administering annual appraisals on training and coaching staff on how to have effective one-to-one conversations, how to give and receive feedback, how to near-term SMART goals, and the fundamentals of coaching. Should you end up becoming a Clear Review customer, we will provide you with training materials that you can use for this at no cost.
Support your training with quick fact sheets, eLearning and short videos – the more interesting and interactive the better. Our Clear Review performance management software comes with integrated animated ‘whiteboard’ videos on the key skills required for Continuous Performance Management.
Step 6. Communicate, communicate…and listen
It’s well recognised within change management that you need to communicate a message between 3 and 6 times before it is understood and internalised. Plus, it will take time for your staff to build the necessary new habits of giving in-the-moment feedback and having regular performance and development conversations.
So support your journey to Continuous Performance Management by building a 12 month communication plan that addresses your three main audiences: senior leaders, managers and employees. Use a variety of communication methods in your plan such as face-to-face briefings, videos, webinars, intranet pages, fact sheets, newsletters, posters, desk-drops and roadshows. Don’t make the mistake of relying just on email. You could even get creative and have some coasters or mouse mats made up to remind people to give and request feedback regularly. We recognise that not everyone is experienced in designing communication plans, so we provide our Clear Review customers with a full communications guide and template 12 month plan.
Communication should not all be one-way. Make sure you regularly seek feedback from team members about how they are finding the new process using surveys, interviews and focus groups. Regularly share the successes and the benefits that staff have achieved in order to build momentum. Use any constructive feedback on the new approach to hone your processes and your communication and training materials.
Step 7. Use Continuous Performance Management software
As we outlined in Part 6 of this eBook, using purpose-built Continuous Performance Management software will significantly improve the adoption of the new approach as it minimises the administration and saves time for everyone involved. Specifically, it will:
- Enable employees to update their progress against their objectives in real-time, making one-to-one discussions more focused
- Provide online agendas for Check-in meetings and enable action points to be captured and followed up on
- Give HR and senior management visibility of how frequently one-to-ones are taking place across the organisation, as well as other key performance and development data
- Enable ‘in-the-moment’ feedback to be given and shared with individuals immediately
- Automatically chase up people who are not having regular one-to-ones, setting objectives or giving feedback
- Allow you to capture performance data or ratings from managers to feed into your reward and talent management decisions
Take the Next Step
This is the end of our eBook and we sincerely hope that you’ve found it interesting and useful. If you have, don’t stop here. Take the next step towards making Continuous Performance Management a reality in your organisation. Here are two no-obligation next steps: