Performance reviews as key lever for culture change

Jerome Parisse-Brassens

An increasing number of organisations are replacing the old-style staff performance reviews with ongoing manager feedback to employees. They require managers to hold regular reviews with their team members during the year. The idea is to make the necessary changes when they are needed and on an ongoing basis. This replaces the annual review and goal setting typically used in organisation, which have sometimes turned into a tick-in-the-box exercise.

Regardless of the way performance management is done in your business, it is one of the most effective levers for culture change. “What gets measured gets done”. If you measure someone’s performance using a set of KPIs, in most cases this person will try to meet their KPIs and in many cases improve them. The goal-setting, along with KPIs, creates clarity for people about what to focus their efforts on. Therefore, if you need people to behave a certain way to achieve your business results, spend time realigning your performance system with your target culture, and you will experience faster change. Some organisations only do this to create the culture they need.

When you realign the performance management system, make sure you stay very specific. One way to do this is to focus on behaviours rather than values. Clarify for people the behaviours you need them to role model and build KPIs around it. Without the KPIs, you lose impact and you allow people to get away from adopting the behaviours if they don’t want to.

Let’s take the example of customer-centricity. We often find that businesses that want to become more externally focussed do not have an aligned KPI system around the customer. Build customer KPIs for everyone to see change. For people who are not directly facing customers, give them KPIs linked to how well they are servicing people who are customer-facing. You might also build in some collaboration KPIs when working together is required for a seamless customer experience. And remember to ensure that all KPIs are aligned and sending the same message to your workforce.

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