When a Fortune 500 company split into two entities, leaders saw an opportunity to reinvent their organizational culture. Cultivating a spirit of innovation where everyone is encouraged to learn and grow became a top priority, both to ensure a smooth transition and to safeguard long-term success. Part of this effort included a shift to rating-less performance management.
The company envisioned a culture that favored collaboration over competition, and growth and development over rigid, arbitrary standards of measurement. Removing year-end ratings and forced employee rankings as a way of evaluating and rewarding employees made sense. But the shift for managers would be significant – they would now be accountable for having performance conversations with a much clearer focus on growth and learning as well as allocating rewards in the absence of ratings. To support the change to a more holistic, growth-mindset approach to performance management, the company turned to Blue Beyond.
The sense of urgency was high. The first stages of the new program needed to be in place within a few months to meet fiscal year deadlines. Without time to pilot key concepts and processes, there was little room for missteps. The project team had to assemble and work fast, and embrace a growth-mindset approach to the rollout. Another challenge: HR team members were accustomed to working in their own functional silos, yet this change effort was going to require significant cross-functional collaboration and insight of the global employee audience.
Supporting the Journey to Rating-less Performance Management
Blue Beyond partnered with the core project team to manage the change initiative. Over the course of five months, we collaborated with the Executive Sponsors and functional HR teams to accomplish the following:
Aligned stakeholders to enable performance management change success
We kicked off the project by facilitating a multi-day meeting to map out the change timeline, key actions required, initial core messages, and what success would look like from the stakeholder point of view. We also held meetings with various stakeholder groups to better understand their past and current states, as well as future expectations. This included supporting Executive Sponsors as they considered “big rock” questions required for long-term change success. In doing so, we built alignment and strengthened collaboration across the HR function to define the performance management strategy and process, identify risks, and track progress.
Just-in-time communications and training to equip a global audience
Our communications strategy was grounded in messaging about modeling the “growth mindset” to support the organization’s culture of innovation. Transparent, just-in-time communications and training kept that messaging concise, relevant, and easy to apply. To do this, we created a detailed change and communication plan focused on equipping and training HR, managers, and employees across geographical regions. We produced manager newsletters, intranet articles, virtual trainings, event invitations, videos, employee emails, and more; all the while keeping the diverse needs of employees in mind in order to successfully roll out the program on a global scale.
Deployed a robust, real-time feedback and measurement plan
Given the quick turnaround for the launch, piloting the program before rolling it out to the entire company was not an option. To compensate for this, we created a robust feedback and measurement plan, which included holding focus groups and conducting surveys at specific intervals throughout the rollout to determine if change efforts were on track. This also allowed for refinement of communication and training activities along the way. Additionally, we helped establish short and long-term stakeholder perception goals relative to the new approach to performance management, and developed a set of qualitative and quantitative tools for measuring long-term success.
During initial phases of the change project, more than 80% of managers agreed that the changes would support personal growth and development and drive a culture of innovation. Additionally, 80% of managers felt they received the right amount of information throughout the change process, and 77% of managers rated their experience with the new performance management process “better” or “much better” than previous years. To date, the organization and HR teams leading the change continue to receive positive feedback.
With a change strategy that aligned to culture goals and reinforced a growth-mindset, this global organization was not only able to make the shift to rating-less performance management, but they are set up to continue to support the roll-out today with plans to introduce new guiding practices and principles aligned to the new culture.