Ben Dansie, CEO at Omobono: Sweat the small stuff for better performance management
Omobono was set up in 2001 to help expanding brands build stronger relationships, both externally and internally. Since then, we have built a team of over 100 experts to support an ever expanding service offering across digital, social, mobile, strategy, video and brand development. We deliver global projects from offices in London, Chicago, Cambridge, Dubai and Bristol helping our clients increase awareness and get closer to the people that matter; talent, employees, customers and prospects.
In 2012, Omobono went through a period of rapid expansion from our original office in Cambridge to London, then Chicago and finally Dubai in mid-2014.
In a creative and technology business like Omobono, people are the heart of our success. Making sure they are happy, productive, treated fairly and growing is a daily challenge. At Omobono people are a critical discussion point at every management meeting and at every board meeting. Outside of executive discussions, managers and teams stay closely aligned and connected through regular interactions and dialog.
Rapid expansion has a few key characteristics including – more locations, more customers and more people. With more locations, more customers and more people, many critical elements of running our business were put at risk – operations, infrastructure, leadership, external communications and most importantly – everything related to people – culture, values, internal communication, recruitment and performance management. To make matters more complex, in 2016, we were shifting from annual appraisals to a more continuous dialog for our business-wide performance management. This was a critical shift for a creative agency which is all about people. Making sure people are aligned, productive and happy is Mission 1 to ensure great ideas, collaboration and happy customers. This transition included process improvements in our goal setting and performance discussions.
Previous attempts at CPM
Continuous performance management is a challenging and changing part of running a high performing business. If you get it right, you can increase employee engagement, performance and productivity. If you get it wrong, you can have decreased performance, alienate employees and even have retention issues. Its usually your best employees who are the “canary in the coal mine” when things aren’t going well.
Omobono tried managing this more continuous performance management dialog on our traditional HR systems with forms and spreadsheets, but the subjectivity and lack of flexibility, bi-directional visibility and reporting made the additional interactions more work, but with no additional improvement.
In the Summer of 2017, we deployed TalTrack to support our global continuous performance management initiative. TalTrack is a flexible, intuitive, device independent, cloud-based continuous performance management solution that empowers employees and managers to have a continuous dialog with each other and gain feedback and praise from internal peers and even external peers and constituents. All of this dialog, feedback and praise is pushed into the employee record. TalTrack is full featured, but easy to configure and use by internal HR teams, managers and employees. Goals, feedback and praise can be public or private – we chose to make all praise public.
Fairness is just as important as transparency. We believe that if people know we have a company-wide performance management initiative that:
- Links individuals goals to business priorities
- Sees the company improving managers abilities to treat everyone fairly
- Rewards great performance through praise, reward and occasionally remuneration
It makes a powerful difference. McKinsey reckon if a company does all three of these, 84% of executives say it adds up to a strong performance management system.
A visual dashboard powered by rich data lies at the heart of Taltrack’s secret sauce. Through a mobile or desktop interface HR, managers and employees can see exactly how employees are doing against their goals, update performance, set new goals and employees can even find a free slot in their manager’s diary and schedule an ad-hoc check-in. This ensures goals can be adapted as often as is needed and everyone is always aligned on performance. Flexibility and ease of a continuous dialog are key.
The impact of mobile can’t be underestimated. 65% of their respondents that have launched performance related mobile technologies in the past 18 months said they had a positive effect on the performance of employees and their company.
In the same McKinsey article “The fairness factor in performance management” they say less than 30% of their respondents said their managers were good coaches. The best measure of a great manager is how far and how fast they develop their team members. We coach our managers on how to have difficult conversations and how to set better goals linked to company objectives, strengths and passions.
An app doesn’t make a manager great at supporting an employee or make an employee great at performing or driving their own career, but TalTrack can be flexibly configured to support best in breed performance management processes. This means that once we went through the pain of the culture change and process development, we had a powerful, easy-to-use platform to support our new processes. This drove our culture and process change forward and ensured high adoption by our managers and employees.
With Omobono, and quite possibly with most businesses, sweating the small stuff makes the difference on performance management. When employees know a company is bothered to acknowledge “brilliants basics” as well as a client win, or noticing good performance of a team member beyond their daily “field of vision”, they feel they are in a firm that wants everyone to grow. The advantage of a simple, powerful and collaborative tool like Taltrack is that it brings the essential focus that our fast-moving company needs.
The mobile app lets team members send each other praise which is then displayed on screens around our offices in the UK, USA and UAE, this ensures that peer recognition plays a part in everyone’s day.
Changing behaviour inside a company is incredibly hard. It is never a quick win. The majority of businesses are now making changes to their performance management systems. By focussing on the small things, by saying thank you and by having a tool that brings people together to discuss goals and growth, we’re going in the right direction.