The majority of organisations agree on what best practice in performance management looks like. Despite this, many are struggling to change their approach. Why? New performance management research from Cirrus highlights the major challenges facing organisations today, and suggests some solutions.
Performance management is a pertinent issue for pretty much every organisation today. At Cirrus, we work with a wide range of clients, and the majority of them have either changed their approach to performance management in recent years, or are currently exploring how to improve it. For many, the change is part of an overall business transformation.
Our new performance management research report, Redefining Performance Management: Making the shift towards a more agile, dialogue-focused approach, finds a widespread desire to move away from rigid systems towards more flexible models that encourage more regular performance conversations.
A key issue our research highlighted is a gap in line manager capability. In order to move towards a more fluid, dialogue-based approach, line managers need to have the skills to hold regular performance management conversations. Many organisations also need to develop greater agility in order to manage performance in a climate of constant change.
Agility was a key area highlighted in Cirrus and Ipsos LEAD’s Leadership Connections 2016 research. When C-suite leaders from major UK organisations were asked where HR teams contributed most to the business, 46% cited performance management. This finding was widely discussed with HR professionals, many of whom felt this represented a great opportunity for them to influence the culture of their organisations. There was an overwhelming desire to move away from traditional performance management systems towards a more holistic approach to improving individual and organisational performance. We thought it would be very interesting to explore this further, which is one of the reasons why we decided to carry out this latest research.
This new report is based on in-depth interviews with HR, talent and L&D leaders from a wide range of industries including banking and finance, technology, retail, property, food, transport, recruitment, logistics and charities. Many of the participants are quoted in the report. We would like to thank everyone who gave us their time and shared their fascinating insights.
“The most important part of performance management remains the conversation between employee and line manager, so employees are getting and giving good feedback and feeling that they’re being stretched in a way that’s constructive,” says Judith Everett, Chief Operating Officer, The Crown Estate. “We want to give people a chance to really challenge themselves to continue improving their performance.”
Simon Mills, head of performance at The Co-operative Group, commented: “We’ve recently reset what it means to work at the Co-op, through our new ways of ‘being Co-op’, integrating these to our performance conversations. We’ve also been investing in our manager capabilities over the past year, focusing on the core skills such as storytelling, coaching and feedback that will lead to great conversations and great performance for colleagues and the Co-op.”
Nadine Smart, head of talent at Cirrus, who co-authored the report with talent consultant Alicia Leon-Lovelady, said: “Most organisations have embraced the concept of a more holistic approach to performance management for many years. However, many have struggled to move on from entrenched systems and to genuinely change their approach. This performance management research aims to highlight some of the reasons why, and offers some suggestions to help more organisations make a sustainable, cultural shift – towards a more ‘connected’ approach.”
We hope this report will cast some light on many widespread challenges and goals, and offer some helpful advice on how to make the shift towards a more connected, fluid approach.
We’d love to hear your views. Get in touch any time or tweet @CirrusConnect using the hashtag #PerformanceManagement.