How This Digital Agency Created a Global Culture of Performance

It’s no secret that the old performance management process is out. Ratings, annual reviews, and clunky software systems are no longer practical or functional for the modern organization.

Although the performance management revolution is well off the ground, organizations are still struggling to find ways to make the switch to a more agile, aligned system all while keeping their mission and goals in place.

Steve Boese from HR Happy Hour recently interviewed Marie-Claire Barker, chief talent officer at Wavemaker (formerly MEC), a global media agency with more than 8,500 employees.

This episode of Boese’s talk show tackled topics around creating a culture of performance based on feedback, specifically from a global perspective. The two discussed ways in which Wavemaker was able to make the smooth switch to continuous performance management and what positive effects that switch has had on the business so far. Here are our takeaways.

1. Appraisals and traditional performance management doesn’t work

At the end of the day, nobody wants to be a number, Barker said. In traditional performance appraisal systems, employees are ranked and given a number, but they are rarely given the reasoning behind the number. Appraisals create a toxic culture of competition and comparison, which are never good for an organization’s bottom line.

“Rating scales are in place for the organization and not for the individual,” Barker said. In 2018, the employee to employer relationship is shifting and the power is more often falling to the employee. This means we will see a shift in how employers change their systems to better reflect the needs of their workforce.

Rating scales are in place for the organization and not for the individual. Click To Tweet

2. Organizational alignment is key

Before making the switch to a more agile performance management system, Barker and her leadership team at Wavemaker asked themselves, “What are we trying to achieve for the organization and the people within it?”

After establishing that they did not want a cumbersome system, senior leadership took to their employees to find out what they wanted. The overwhelming answer? More feedback. By aligning themselves with what their employees needed, Wavemaker was able to align their employees goals with their business objectives.

3. Ultimately, a tool is just a tool

Of course, a new tool or system will not replace all of an organization’s existing systems. At Wavemaker, global teams use Reflektive to help facilitate performance conversations.

Barker discussed how important transparency was in her organization: “The CEO’s goals are transparent to help employees align their goals.” By setting public goals, the leadership team at Wavemaker is able to ensure that employees can align their goals to the company’s mission, particularly when it comes to client interactions and engagement.

“The CEO’s goals are transparent to help employees align their goals.”

After a successful implementation, Barker saw incredible results from Wavemaker’s transition. Not only did employees and company leadership embrace the new tools, but Barker explained that quieter employees became more engaged because they were recognized for their contributions to the organization.

Barker’s final advice to listeners looking to launch a new performance management process was to “be bold.” By letting go of the safety net of an old system, Wavemaker was able to modernize its performance management and feedback process while maintaining goal alignment across the globe.

Listen to the full podcast here.

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