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How to get stakeholder buy-in for changing your performance management process

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The mod­ern world of work requires a new and equal­ly mod­ern approach to per­for­mance man­age­ment. With the rate at which things are con­stant­ly chang­ing, orga­ni­za­tions have to adapt and have a more agile approach. This means, end of year appraisals and reviews are not the most prac­ti­cal approach to man­ag­ing per­for­mance any­more. How­ev­er, chang­ing a per­for­mance man­age­ment process that has been at the core of many orga­ni­za­tions for years is a chal­lenge, and requires a much greater cul­tur­al shift. Stake­hold­er buy-in is cru­cial for this change because it doesn’t just require a tech­ni­cal shift, nor is it as sim­ple as imple­ment­ing a new process. It requires a change in mind­set, and most of all, buy in from every­one, includ­ing senior lead­ers and employees. 

Change per­spec­tive on how a suc­cess­ful per­for­mance man­age­ment process is measured

There is a pres­sure and expec­ta­tion to get high com­ple­tion rates with annu­al appraisal forms. It’s pos­si­ble that as you switch to more reg­u­lar per­for­mance con­ver­sa­tions, that you are still putting your­self under the same pres­sure. How­ev­er there needs to be a shift in the type of met­rics you mea­sure and that will come from get­ting the senior man­age­ment team to under­stand which met­rics actu­al­ly have more value. 

For exam­ple, with annu­al appraisals, you might mea­sure suc­cess” by the com­ple­tion rate of forms. Although you might have a 90% com­ple­tion rate, do these appraisals real­ly lead to more mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sion to improve per­for­mance? Prob­a­bly not. Once annu­al appraisals are over, it’s a relief for most peo­ple—they just want it over and done with and get back to what they were doing. 

How­ev­er, if you have more reg­u­lar per­for­mance con­ver­sa­tions under a con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance mod­el, although you might not get a 90% form com­ple­tion rate, you may get 50% of employ­ees hav­ing reg­u­lar mean­ing­ful per­for­mance con­ver­sa­tions in the first few months. This already is a much bet­ter result and more impact­ful than the 90% com­ple­tion rate” that didn’t mean any­thing at all. 

Although the met­ric is low­er in val­ue, it’s a much big­ger win because a high­er per­cent­age of your work­force will improve per­for­mance and feel engaged through reg­u­lar feed­back and per­for­mance conversations. 

What’s in it for them?

High­er pro­duc­tiv­i­ty with reli­able met­rics and real attribution

Employ­ee per­for­mance and engage­ment no longer becomes a fluffy” top­ic at the head table if you have real met­rics to back it. Tra­di­tion­al­ly, employ­ee per­for­mance has been mea­sured through annu­al appraisals, and employ­ee engage­ment through long unen­gag­ing engage­ment sur­veys—often result­ing in unre­li­able data and failed ini­tia­tives. As a result, per­for­mance man­age­ment and employ­ee engage­ment nev­er becomes a priority. 

But, it’s a whole oth­er ball game if you have a sys­tem that cap­tures met­rics from a new per­for­mance man­age­ment process. A sys­tem that cap­tures new data can give you a whole new set of met­rics that senior lead­ers didn’t know exist­ed, and so you have a new set of suc­cess mea­sures from per­for­mance metrics.

For exam­ple, by set­ting goals on a sys­tem like Clear Review, you can track com­ple­tion of objec­tives which can be used as a pro­duc­tiv­i­ty indi­ca­tor across the orga­ni­za­tion. Through data from the Clear Review sys­tem, we found that orga­ni­za­tions that set goals had a high­er goal com­ple­tion rate and thus increased their pro­duc­tiv­i­ty by 33%.

You can also gath­er quan­ti­ta­tive data from mea­sures such as the fre­quen­cy of con­ver­sa­tion­s/check-ins across teams and the amount of feed­back giv­en across the orga­ni­za­tion. You can then use all these dif­fer­ent data points to make cor­re­la­tions and com­pare how pro­duc­tive and engaged your work­force are. The fact that you would be hav­ing more fre­quent con­ver­sa­tions, reg­u­lar feed­back and short­er term goals means that you can get data more fre­quent­ly to under­stand per­for­mance across the orga­ni­za­tion, rather than rely on annu­al or bian­nu­al reviews. Data from goals, feed­back and con­ver­sa­tions can also help you dis­tin­guish between teams that are doing well vs those they may require fur­ther sup­port and training. 

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Improve the bot­tom line by:

Increas­ing job sat­is­fac­tion and productivity

Orga­ni­za­tions often think that to improve employ­ee per­for­mance and engage­ment, you need to give pay ris­es and bonus­es. How­ev­er, research has revealed that only 15% of the effect of a salary increase sur­vives longer term. So, rewards have to be giv­en fre­quent­ly in order to con­tin­ue to have an effect. If employ­ees are offered a pay rise else­where, they will most like­ly take it and leave. So we can­not sole­ly rely on extrin­sic moti­va­tors and must look at intrin­sic moti­va­tors such as auton­o­my, mas­tery, pur­pose and feedback. 

Con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment focus­es on intrin­sic fac­tors such as moti­va­tion, engage­ment at work and recog­ni­tion — this does­n’t cost an orga­ni­za­tion any­thing. Accord­ing to research by Deloitte, employ­ee engage­ment, pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and per­for­mance are 14% high­er in orga­ni­za­tions that proac­tive­ly fos­ter recog­ni­tion. By mak­ing a cul­tur­al shift to where employ­ees are recog­nised, and under­stand their pur­pose, you can do a lot to improve pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, per­for­mance and engage­ment, all of which will have a pos­i­tive impact on your organization’s bot­tom line.

Cut­ting staff turnover

Los­ing your employ­ees and try­ing to find their replace­ments is cost­ly. A cost which can be eas­i­ly avoid­ed by pri­ori­tis­ing employ­ee engage­ment and per­for­mance. As men­tioned pre­vi­ous­ly, intrin­sic moti­va­tors have a much more sig­nif­i­cant pos­i­tive impact on per­for­mance than extrin­sic moti­va­tors like pay. For exam­ple, when Adobe switched to con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment, they found a 30% decrease in the num­ber of employ­ees quit­ting.

There are costs asso­ci­at­ed with train­ing new employ­ees rather than retain­ing and sup­port­ing exist­ing ones. Time and resources have to go into train­ing new employ­ees. With this approach, it is hard to see an imme­di­ate ROI because you have to wait a few months until they are ful­ly geared up to do the job that your ex-employ­ee did. One study revealed that employ­ers will need to spend the equiv­a­lent of six to nine months of an employee’s salary to find and train their replace­ments. For exam­ple, if an employ­ee has a salary of £60,000, it will cost the com­pa­ny between £30,000 to £45,000 to hire and train a replace­ment. Plus, if your new employ­ees are not yet up to speed, this could affect their per­for­mance and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty ini­tial­ly, caus­ing a lag in meet­ing team objectives.

By focus­ing on the per­for­mance and engage­ment of your exist­ing employ­ees, you are giv­ing them val­ue and sat­is­fac­tion in their job that they won’t find from an incre­men­tal pay rise in anoth­er job. 

More time effi­cient than annu­al appraisals

Reg­u­lar per­for­mance con­ver­sa­tions are much more time effi­cient than annu­al appraisals. When Deloitte analysed their appraisal process, they found that employ­ees spent near­ly 2 mil­lion hours a year on per­for­mance reviews! Adobe had also changed their approach to per­for­mance man­age­ment and switched from year­ly reviews to reg­u­lar catchips and recov­ered thou­sands of hours that would have oth­er­wise been spent on reviews. And if the per­for­mance process doesn’t bring any real val­ue, that’s hours wast­ed that could have been spent on some­thing much more pro­duc­tive for the orga­ni­za­tion. Switch­ing to reg­u­lar per­for­mance con­ver­sa­tions removes the need to gath­er a year’s worth of evi­dence of your per­for­mance, removes paper­work, and elim­i­nates the need to con­stant­ly email and nag every­one to com­plete their forms. Instead, you have rich­er data, that’s more rel­e­vant and reli­able and cap­tured often on a sys­tem so it’s not lost. This allows you to act in the moment rather than a year down the line when issues and pri­or­i­ties have changed.

Use inter­nal advo­cate team as exam­ples of success

You need an inter­nal team who per­haps already do some ele­ments of good per­for­mance man­age­ment and gath­er them togeth­er to form an advo­cate team. They can act as a tried and test­ed exam­ple of a high per­form­ing team to the stake­hold­ers. Once your stake­hold­ers are con­vinced, they can also in turn become advo­cates, and help cham­pi­on any new changes in the orga­ni­za­tion, to help bring man­agers and employ­ees on board with the new way of man­ag­ing performance. 

Iden­ti­fy the skeptics

The skep­tics are one of the most impor­tant stake­hold­ers in your orga­ni­za­tion. They exist in every organ­i­sa­tion and often they have seen ini­tia­tives” in the past that have failed. Your skep­tics are the ones that resist the most. But if you can get your skep­tics on board with the new per­for­mance man­age­ment process, it can be a huge win. The ben­e­fit of speak­ing to your skep­tics is that they can help you find mis­takes or areas of con­cern that need to be addressed when rolling out a new process. This also gives them a voice and helps them feel like they have con­tributed to a wider pos­i­tive change. So if your skep­tics are on board, every­one else will be too. They can in turn, become your advo­cates too and shout out about the ben­e­fits of con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance management. 


Learn more about trans­form­ing per­for­mance man­age­ment in your organization

Join our FREE Per­for­mance Man­age­ment Acad­e­my to learn the every­thing you need to know about con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment, and how to man­age the change in per­for­mance. We have a range of free cours­es that you can take, as well as mul­ti­ple com­mu­ni­ties where you can learn con­nect with HR pro­fes­sion­als, share your insight, and learn from indus­try experts. 

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