Aster Group provide a wide range of housing services across south west England. They have over 1000 employees working from home or office locations across the south west, as well as trade operatives who work remotely.
Aster could no longer cope with paper-based performance review processes.
With no link between monthly one-to-ones and the employee annual appraisals, time would be wasted copying and pasting information from their monthly forms on to their annual appraisal forms.
Teams were unable to collate the necessary training needs, it was impossible to centralise employee requirements and the whole process was ineffective and inefficient.
There was a desire to implement a clear and robust performance management process to support Aster’s organisational culture.
Overall, there were four key goals:
- To provide a tool to support colleagues and managers in their regular reviews
- To enable managers to track individual performance and requirements.
- To produce reports easily when objectives and training needs were recorded
- To know the training needs of their employees
It was widely appreciated across the business that the process was not fit for purpose and there was a very real risk that different parts of the business would begin implementing their own solutions.
Getting buy-in from key stakeholders
By creating a working group made up of key representatives of the different parts of the business, new ideas were explored. The working group took part in a six-month pilot of a new digital tool. During the pilot representatives were encouraged to feedback their experiences and the tool was customized further in this time. This pilot phase enabled further changes to be made in the whole approach, shifting away from the annual appraisal model to a regular check-in. Senior stakeholders also had the opportunity to get involved in the pilot process, which helped to ensure they were fully engaged and backed the broader changes to a more fluid model for performance management.
Implementing the system
Effective communication was at heart of this stage. Preparation started pre-launch and involved intensive consultation via focus groups. They were introduced to the new platform and how it would work. Annual reviews were widely recognised not to be effective in the organisation, so there was enthusiasm to replace them with a simple, fluid and ongoing one-to-one process and the change was welcomed and embraced.
It was crucial that senior decision makers were given time to get on board with the process and become engaged.
As changes and tweaks to the system were so easy to implement, these leaders became ambassadors within the business, and advocated the new systems user-friendly nature to their peers and teams. This was borne out by the fact that the only on-boarding and training required was an on-boarding video. The whole thing was swift and seamless, both saving time and highlighting the benefits of the platform.
From the beginning feedback was very positive, especially from the line managers. They are able to track their 1-2-1s which is a huge benefit to them and their staff
By the end of Aster’s first quarter of using the new tool, managers could see how high the uptake was, as well as how many objectives and personal development plan actions had been set. This instantly demonstrated that employees had embraced the change and new way of working.
One year later
Aster achieved the following after one year following implementation:
88% of colleagues using the online tool for 1-2-1s
70% of employees using the new tool to track their work objectives
50% of employees using the new tool to track their personal objectives
The L&D team were excited about the reporting they were able to do – viewing the training needs for the whole organisation.
For line managers, being able to view objectives and other activities for the whole team is a huge advantage that has never been possible before. This will help them identify needs and put plans in placed to address them in a much speedier and effective way.
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