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5 Key Ingredients of a Performance Culture

Image of Audrey Ganey
Audrey Ganey

A well-thought out performance management program is a critical component of any organization’s HR Department, especially those that value feedback, growth, and overall employee development. Elements of such programs allow for the individual and supervisor to evaluate the employee against the company’s values and performance metrics, as well as set goals and discuss career tracking.  

At their worst, traditional performance management programs have consisted solely of the Annual Performance Review: a summary of the employee’s performance over the past 12 months, written from the perspective of the supervisor. More modern performance management programs have evolved to include peer input and self-evaluations, and some programs have abandoned the annual ceremony altogether.  

Verys’ approach to performance management is ever-evolving. Some elements are more progressive, while others are tried-and-true. Included below are the five elements of the Verys Performance Management System that we believe allow us to provide regular and real-time feedback to our people, with the ultimate goal of helping them to develop as professionals and provide an exceptional experience for our clients. 

  1. Ongoing Dialogue 

We believe feedback should be provided in real-time, as well as at regular intervals. If there is an opportunity to coach an employee through a challenging situation, or provide positive reinforcement to an observed behavior, the employee should be informed at the soonest appropriate moment. Feedback that influences employee performance should not be limited to a formal performance review meeting or confined to a document that lives in the employee’s personnel file. By providing a space for an ongoing dialogue between each employee and their supervisor, there is no question in the employee’s mind as to how they are performing at any point in the year.  

  1. 360 Feedback 

As in most organizations, Verys employees engage with a variety of stakeholders as they do their work. This includes colleagues and direct reports, a team lead or manager, company leadership, clients, prospective clients, and more. To provide our people with an accurate picture of their performance, we elicit feedback from the various groups each employee touches. Additionally, we ask each employee to complete a self-evaluation as part of the annual review and project roll-off process. It can be a useful exercise to compare one’s selfevaluation with that of their peers, supervisor, or client. In many scenarios the feedback is consistent across each group, however, there are times this is not the case and areas for growth are illuminated.  

  1. Performance & Attitude Competencies 

How performance is measured, and the qualities the company values, varies by organization. Ideally, employee and employer should have a shared understanding of expectations and what exceptional performance looks like at the start of the relationship. At Verys, we have defined both performance and attitude competencies that serve as benchmarks for feedback. • Performance Competencies are role specific. They’re the qualities we measure for any group of individuals performing the same type of job (e.g. Software Engineer, Designer, etc.). • Attitude Competencies are role agnostic. These are the qualities we value in our employees regardless of the type of position they hold or job they perform. A well-defined set of attitude competencies allows us to engage in feedback conversations surrounding an employee’s “fit” within our company values and culture.  

  1. Actionable 

A good performance management program should inspire action, both on the part of the employee and the employer. Reviewing an employee’s performance should give all parties involved actionable items that are intended to foster the employee’s professional growth. Our annual reviews include reviewing last year’s goals (met or not?... why or why not?); setting new goals (and identifying what needs to be done in order for this goal to be achieved); and identifying training or other professional supports that will set the employee up for success. Investing the time with each employee to set and track goals, and providing the necessary resources to support each goal, increases employee retention and adds value to the services being provided to the client. Action leads to wins all around.  

  1. Honest

Kim Scott, former Google and then Apple Exec, coined the term “radical candor” when she was developing a course on how to be a good boss. Radical candor is the simple idea that in order to be a good boss, you have to “care personally and challenge directly.” Another way to put it: care enough to be honest. A ceremonious performance review process that lacks meaningful, honest feedback is a waste of everyone’s time. As professionals who value quality and craftsmanship, we want to know how we can be better. We crave candid feedback. Likewise, feedback delivered without compassion or care risks stripping people of their dignity. At Verys, we are committed to delivering honest feedback because we care deeply about our people. 


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