Nicky Welch

At the end of February, KPMG People Powered Performance and Michael Page Human Resources co-hosted a breakfast seminar for HR Directors/Managers/Business Partners focusing on how performance development can drive continuous success. In this article, Nicky Welch of KPMG takes us through the key takeaways from the session.
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Performance development is about helping people to understand how they contribute to the strategic goals of an organisation and ensuring that the right skills and efforts are focused on the things that really matter and make an impact on the organisation’s performance. It is about ensuring that everyone, every day, does their job efficiently and effectively, and is simply about people knowing: how they are performing; how they can perform better; what is needed to perform better; and what is needed for the future. 
It is important to get it right because it can help an individual understand why their job is important and give them a sense of purpose. In turn, from the businesses’ perspective it contributes to improved performance and productivity.
Performance development is based on three key principles: Vision, Inputs and Business Outputs. An organisation’s strategy and initiatives should clearly define values that support a high performance culture, this can be demonstrated through the organisation’s leadership and integrity. The inputs define what your people need to demonstrate which then feed through to the business outputs, where employees understand how they contribute to the bottom line. 
Recent feedback into employees’ views of performance development showed that only 21% of those surveyed had had a performance review in the previous year and 33% thought the process was a tick box exercise. When you consider how closely performance development is linked to business performance the results can be worrying and show that work is needed to improve employees’ perspective of the process.
The traditional model is based on a four step process: goal setting, mid-year review, year-end review and calibration. However, some organisations are moving away from this and from using ratings to rank their employees. The focus has moved to frequency with feedback  being obtained continuously, rather than at mid and year end. Organisations are also focussing on development as core, with managers being rewarded for “talent production” rather than “talent hoarding”; and the development of all staff not just those considered “high potential”. Career planning is also important with a focus on moving laterally around the business, rather than just up or out.
Performance development is a key enabler towards employee engagement and motivation and ultimately achieving organisational success, however it can be challenging. We’ve put together a list of practical tips below to help get it right: 
  • Ensure the right stakeholders are engaged and ‘walking the talk’
  • Ensure key milestones are communicated, feedback from the business is received, and that the business takes ownership.
  • Keep tools and systems simple, user friendly, and easily accessible.
  • Training of HR and managers on any changes to process and more importantly in people skills. 
  • Decide on clear principles that underpin the performance development approach.
  • Look within your business to find examples of “what good looks like”– use symbolisms and leaders.
  • PM is all about managers and employees engaging in conversations about performance and being open.
  • Ensure performance development is adapted to include diverse workforces.
For further advice on performance development please contact Nicky Welch at KPMG. For insight and advice on other HR topics visit our Michael Page Human Resources section.