Moving towards employee-led performance conversations

px limited is a leading provider of services in the process, energy, and highly complex industrial sectors. HR Director, Katie Woods-Ruddick discusses the journey she’s been on with px and Appraisd to embed a fresh approach to performance management, which is far more employee-driven.

Changing the look of performance reviews in the industry sector
feedback through regular good conversations
approach, where px and Appraisd worked to evolve and improve together
of employee's career aspirations and goals

In an interview with Katie Woods-Ruddick, Chief People Officer at px Limited, we uncover the reasons behind implementing Appraisd, the main challenges that drove the team to look for a new performance management solution and what has changed after implementing the system.

[fs-toc-omit]What system did you use before Appraisd?

“We used an in-house system, built by our ICT department. We wanted to make reviews much more interactive and employee-led which was in line with the vision, values, and behaviours that we had developed. We wanted something that was more than just a housing for reviews; we wanted a tool that would help shape the process and bring managers and employees together in a smooth, collaborative way.”

<h2 class="hide">Looking for a solution</h2>

[fs-toc-omit]What were the drivers for looking for an external provider?

“There were two really. Firstly, we wanted to move quickly, and our ICT team already had an extensive project list.

Secondly and most importantly, we wanted to work with an external company that would have a wide range of clients that would all have different requirements and ideas. Their requests for new functions and features would drive innovations that we could take advantage of. When you’re working in an organisation, it can become increasingly difficult to lift your head up and see what the rest of the world is doing. We know we can’t be the best at everything, so working with someone like Appraisd gives us a link to the latest thinking.”

[fs-toc-omit]How did you decide which system to go with?

“After having a number of demos, we narrowed it down to three contenders, who we asked how they would help us reach our goals in order to gauge whether they were the right partner to go on the journey with us. For us, this was a much bigger change than just implementing a new system. It was about a far more fundamental shift in manager and employee behaviour, so we knew it would take at least three years to embed within the business. For me, it was really, really important that we worked with an organisation that understood this would take time and would be there to help us get to our destination.”

[fs-toc-omit]Why did you choose Appraisd?

“One of the defining factors was that I believed those building Appraisd understand what a good performance review looks like. When I described things like the importance of transparent feedback, it felt like I was pushing at an open door. I knew I was talking to people who understand the importance of having really good conversations within a business and those good conversations are the key that unlocks engagement, motivation and so much more. I felt we were talking the same language.

The other thing that attracted me was their desire to keep improving the system. Early on in our dealings with them, I got the feeling that Appraisd was looking for a partnership, where each of us would bring something to the party, that meant we’d evolve and improve together. I also knew they would be willing to listen to us and try and deliver what we wanted, not just what the system could do.”

[fs-toc-omit]Can you expand more on why you thought the process would take three years?

“Change is difficult, especially a major one like the one we planned. Moving to a performance review approach which focused strongly on collaboration and discussion takes time to implement. In year one we got a lot of questions asking why we were making the change. While there were pockets of support for those who really got it, there was still some convincing to do with regard to the changes. In year two people began to get comfortable and started seeing the benefits of the change, and how it was helping their development and progression. Now moving into year three this approach is becoming like second nature, just what we do. We can begin to think about moving even further, for example introducing more regular check-ins.

<h2 class="hide">Changing into a feedback culture</h2>

[fs-toc-omit]What changes have you seen over the last two years?

“I’m really pleased about the fundamental changes we’ve managed to make. One area that has been successfully reformed is feedback. In the previous approach employees never saw their actual feedback, just a summary of it, so they never saw the full picture. I wanted to change this and be as transparent as possible. For me, this was a vital part of the new approach. If our employees were going to reach their full potential, they had to know what they were doing well or where they could improve.

px Limited

<h2 class="hide">Key benefits of working with Appraisd</h2>

[fs-toc-omit]What have the benefits been of using Appraisd?

“We know we have improved our performance review conversations. We know this because of positive feedback from both managers and individuals. Areas of the business have also told me that their teams are more engaged because of the revised approach to reviews.

People now recognise that having a good performance conversation means that something happens as a result. For example, we now run a report which identifies employees’ career aspirations and goals. By integrating this, we can approach managers and check to see what is happening with these. This makes us far more proactive and allows us to help employees meet their goals, which is what effective performance management should be all about.

The data we can get from Appraisd is just so useful for us as a team. It helps us to identify trends and spot areas of strength and things that need attention. We feel that this new approach helps us really make a difference for our people.”

[fs-toc-omit]What are you focusing on this year?

“Employee development is a key priority, especially making the most of our best-performing employees. The reports from Appraisd help us to identify these and have a conversation with their line managers to see how they plan to harness this talent effectively. We know that if outstanding employees aren’t pushed, they may become demotivated or leave the organisation to seek a fresh challenge outside the business.”

[fs-toc-omit]How do you find yourself working with the customer success team at Appraisd?

“Rosalind, our dedicated account manager, is just fabulous. I’ve never worked with a company that responds as quickly as Appraisd. I’ll give Rosalind the outline of the report we’d like in the morning and by the afternoon she’ll have got back to me with an answer. I feel like whatever I ask, she’ll do her very best to deliver an answer that works for us.”

Employee performance