If you’re an executive, you’ve no doubt heard many peers and publications detailing ongoing performance management and objectives and key results. Over the past few years, leading companies, small businesses and startups alike have all ditched the annual performance review in favor of frequent check-ins, continuous feedback and strategic goal setting. Despite the buzz, you may still have concerns about overhauling your company’s performance management strategy. Changing things at a company-wide level is a huge investment – especially if you don’t think anything is wrong with your current process.
“Ongoing performance management is the way of the future.”
Yet, ongoing performance management is the way of the future, and not changing your review strategy costs your business in terms of low productivity and squandered talent. During the Betterworks Goal Summit this past April, attendees got to listen to several OKR and ongoing performance management success stories. Business leaders and human resource representatives shared their tips and tricks for successful implementation. If you’re still conflicted about making the switch, here are four of their insights to keep in mind:
1. Review Big-Name Case Studies
Google, Adobe, Oracle, Intel, Twitter and LinkedIn are some of the biggest names in their respective industries, and they’ve all successfully transitioned to ongoing performance management and strategic goal setting. Reading case studies of companies like these – which have offices and employees throughout the world – can reassure you that updating your performance management strategy is worth the struggle.
For instance, in an interview with Lillian Cunningham of The Washington Post, Accenture CEO Pierre Nanterme explained how and why his company changed the way it conducts performance reviews. At the time, Accenture employed over 300,000 people, and Nanterme knew the change would be difficult. Yet, because of the success of other companies, he also realized it was the best way forward. Reviewing other businesses will leave you similarly convinced.
2. Attend Conferences
Adobe, Google and Oracle are great companies to model yourselves after, but if you don’t have their resources, implementing OKRs and ongoing performance management can still seem like too much. In this case, you’ll need success stories from smaller businesses. The best way to find these stories is by attending conferences focused on performance management, goal setting, productivity and employee engagement.
The Betterworks Goal Summit saw attendees from across the entire realm of business. Seasoned executives mingled with single-person startups, and human resource managers of global workforces chatted with those working for organizations with less than 100 people. Almost everyone had a story to tell about how OKRs revolutionized their company. Attending these conferences gives you a wide variety of perspectives and helps you see that OKRs and ongoing performance management are for everyone, not just the big shots.
3. Listen to Employee Feedback
Listening to employees was Adobe’s strategy, and it worked out well for that company. In an interview with Fortune, Donna Morris, Adobe’s senior vice president of people and places, discussed how she realized her company’s rank-and-yank system wasn’t cutting it, but she didn’t know what to use instead. To figure out the way to proceed, Morris crowdsourced ideas directly from employees. They confirmed her suspicious that annual reviews were a waste of time and convinced her to implement a system called Check-In. As a result, Adobe retained more valuable talent and saw its employees’ performance increase.
“Ask your employees how they want to be evaluated.”
Asking your employees how they want to be evaluated offers similar benefits. Once you’ve started the transition, continue listening to employees and responding to their needs to ensure success. According to Gallup, over 70 percent of the change initiatives fail. The issue isn’t that change is flawed. Rather, executives take the wrong approach when trying to roll things out. They don’t focus enough on the front-line managers who are responsible for implementing whatever new strategy they designed. Avoid this pitfall and regularly ask employees and managers what they need.
4. Don’t Expect Immediate Perfection
Every business leader wants to get things right on the first try, but the top executives will tell you that any new strategy takes constant revisions before you find something that works. The same is true of switching to ongoing performance management. A month or two in, you may find your goals don’t align with the needs of your business or employees. Alternatively, you might find that you’re having your staff set too many goals, preventing them from focusing and giving their all on the ones the matter.
Most of the speakers at the Betterworks Goal Summit had been working on their ongoing performance management strategies for at least a year. Things weren’t perfect from the outset, but they all persisted because they knew frequent check-ins and OKRs were the key to better business. If you don’t see results immediately, don’t panic. Survey your employees and see if they want to continue with the new strategy. The answer will more than likely be yes.