We spent a great couple of days at the CIPD Performance Management conference recently, which included facilitating a workshop with Sean and Laura, for HR and business leaders interested in enabling higher performance in their organisations. It’s clearly a hot topic, evidenced by a Deloitte survey which suggests that 79% of executives see changing the approach in their organisation as a high priority. It’s fair to say the high energy levels and the critical dialogue during the workshop also reflected this, and I sensed a strong commitment from participants to make a real difference in their organisations. I took a lot away from the event, but thought I’d share a few personal reflections.


  1. There’s a very positive shift towards simplifying performance management processes, and focussing on improving the quality and frequency of discussions between supervisors and employees. Nothing new in the theory, but it’s clear that many organisations are recognising that their existing processes are getting in the way, and hindering employee trust and engagement. Some organisations were also doing a good job in involving employees in helping shape process changes. So, some great examples of new and innovative approaches being taken, but……………….


  1. …………Don’t just focus on your performance management process. The overall performance of any organisation will be dependent on so many others factors – the quality of leadership, the organisation design, the culture, the policies and processes, the talent you attract and retain, and the way you deploy their skills. All these things should reflect what your organisation needs to achieve, and they should align to enable employees to make the best contribution they can. Holistic systemic change will be more challenging than deciding whether to have performance ratings or not, but it will be needed if you genuinely want to sustain a step-change in performance through your people.


  1. It’s time for many organisations to fundamentally revisit their reward philosophy and practices. In some organisations, this seemed to be an afterthought, and incongruence between new performance processes and legacy reward practices hadn’t been addressed. Moving away from guided or forced distributions of performance ratings might be a good thing, but somewhat academic if you’re still distributing a fixed merit allocation according to performance and requiring variation in awards. Inevitably more of these arrangements will be subject to Equal Pay scrutiny, and I’d be encouraging HR leaders to address any equity issues, and while they’re at it, ensure their reward practices effectively align with their performance philosophy and goals.


I really do wish all the participants well as they seek to make changes, and enable sustained performance improvement in their organisations during 2018.