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Performance Management

Week 9

How to launch a new or improved performance management process

Over the course of our masterclass we have looked at how to measure the effectiveness of your organisation’s performance management against your overall goals, discussed the ingredients for success and the pitfalls to avoid. As a result of this, you may decide that you wish to make some changes to your performance management processes and tools, or embark on a completely new approach. In this week’s guide, we’ll be taking you through our 7 step guide for doing this successfully.

Step 1 – Create a project plan

Launching a performance management process is a significant undertaking as it’s something that will impact upon everyone in the organisation. So be sure to take time to plan it properly. If you have access to a trained project manager, see if you can get them involved in the project. If not, creating your own project plan is not too difficult. Here are some tips:

  • Break the project down into hunks, then chunks, then individual tasks
  • Prioritise the hunks, chunks and tasks
  • Estimate number of days required for each task then add dates
  • Assign responsibilities for each task
  • Capture your project plan in a suitable software tool where it can be easily updated and shared. You can use Microsoft Excel or Project for this, or use an online tool such as Tom’s Planner which makes sharing the plan with others easier than with Microsoft Project.
  • Throughout the project, ensure everyone involved has an up-to-date copy of the project plan and understands their responsibilities.

Step 2 – Involve staff in the changes and get buy-in

We’ve previously discussed the importance of engaging with staff on the issues with your existing performance management and how to improve it. This is essential for getting buy-in and it needs to start with top management. You should then involve managers and employees from different parts of the organisation via focus groups, interviews and surveys. Doing this will help to build ownership of the new process throughout the organisation.

Engaging with staff will also enable you to identify ‘champions’. These are people who demonstrate best practice when it comes to performance management and whose teams have clearly benefited as a result (e.g. through increased engagement, motivation and performance). These champions will be invaluable when it comes to the training and communication steps (see below).

Step 3 – Consider online software options

When making changes to your performance management, it is a good time to consider whether implementing a new or replacement online solution can help you to streamline the process. Whatever your new performance management approach entails, you’ll want to minimise the administrative side of it and ensure that the processes for capturing data and managing approvals don’t get in the way of meaningful performance discussions. A well-designed online performance management system (such as our own Clear Review software) can help with this. We’ll be discussing how to take your performance management online in our final masterclass guide next week.

Step 4 – Plan your skills training and support

As we discussed last week, providing training in performance management skills is essential in order to achieve genuine improvements in performance across the organisation. This training should ideally start in the run-up to the new process being launched so that people have the necessary skills to make it a success. Training needs to continue on an ongoing basis after the new process is live so that the knowledge and skills become firmly embedded over time and that new joiners and newly promoted managers are equipped with the necessary know-how to positively manage performance.

If possible, try to get your ‘champions’ involved in the training by, for example, having them helping to run workshops, appearing in videos or acting as internal performance management coaches and mentors. This approach has been used successfully by a number of organisations including AstraZeneca.

You’ll also need to consider how to manage support for the new process and any associated system or tools. No matter how good your communications are, people will inevitably have questions or concerns about the new process or system. A useful approach can be to appoint ‘super-users’ in each department who are trained on how to answer the most frequent questions that may arise from staff about the performance management process or system. HarperCollins Publishers found this particularly effective when they rolled out a new performance management process using our software. The super-users helped to ensure that HR didn’t get bogged down in everyday queries and could focus on monitoring quality and providing coaching.

Step 5 – Plan your communications

Current thinking on change management suggests that you need to communicate a message between 3 and 6 times before it is fully taken on board. Therefore you should plan a number of different communications to launch your new performance management process. Remember that different people take on information in different ways so you should plan a variety of communication methods which might include face-to-face briefings, emails, videos, webinars, intranet pages, fact sheets, newsletters and roadshows.

Your communications will be significantly more powerful if they come from top management rather than HR. An email from the CEO, for example, is likely to be read much more closely than one from the HR Director!

The key to making your communications successful is to emphasise the specific benefits for the recipients. So always keep in mind the acronym ‘WIIFM – What’s in it for me?’. Then back up your claims with evidence from around the business of how people who have followed this approach have benefited, e.g. through better results, increased employee engagement, reduced staff turnover, etc.

Once you are live, keep your communications going and reinforce the positive outcomes of performance management through success stories or case studies from around the organisation. Feature these in company newsletters or business updates so they are seen as ‘business as usual’ rather than part of an HR update.

Step 6 – Run a pilot test

Wherever possible, pilot test your new performance management process for a specified period in two or three different departments. This will give you an understanding of what employees and managers thought worked well in practice and any difficulties they faced. Their feedback will help you to hone your training and communications and further improve your processes and supporting tools before rolling them out to the wider businesses. The pilot can also identify potential performance management ‘champions’ to take part in your training, support and communication initiatives.

Step 7 – Roll-out to the whole organisation

Only when you have gone through the above steps should you launch your new process to the whole organisation. In our experience, if these steps are done well, the new process is likely to be positively received and well followed. But that’s not the end of the road. You need to ensure that your new process actually achieves the overall goals and success criteria that you laid out for your performance management. So you’ll need to measure the effectiveness of your performance management on an ongoing basis and continue to tweak your training, communications and supporting tools as necessary.

Performance management implementation checklist

Make sure you’ve got everything covered by downloading our free performance management implementation checklist.

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