Australia - Effective feedback is a vital part of any performance management system. Find out how professional services firm KPMG has benefited from implementing an "upward feedback" system.
One of HR's initiatives in KPMG focused on helping the firm's 400 partners seek and act on feedback to drive continual improvements in performance. In order to achieve this, partners needed feedback on what results are achieved and how those results are achieved.
In order to effectively provide this information, KPMG needed a simple but flexible system that could easily collect and report this to the partners via an upward feedback system. The feedback needed to be used as an input into assessment, to help formulate goals for the coming year and to aid development planning. The system also had to be very easy to use, minimise email traffic and enable real conversations, rather than allowing people to hide behind systems.
KPMG opted for an "upward feedback" system, which allows partners to receive direct feedback from any person in the organisation on their behavioural and leadership strengths and weaknesses. "Any person can provide upward feedback to any of our partners and executive directors at any point in time," says Nicole Makin, project leader - strategic people initiatives, in the people, performance and culture division of KPMG.
Likewise, the take-up by the firm's partnership has been very strong, she adds. "They were engaged and really encouraged their staff to provide feedback, with the expectation that the feedback provided will be funnelled into their performance assessment."
KPMG's audit group, for example, was particularly responsive to this process. Makin explains that they placed it as an agenda item at every meeting, developed a set of metrics and provided weekly measurement updates against those metrics.
This year, the feedback will be used to help partners and executive directors at KPMG set their development plans, says Makin. The feedback collected will ultimately assist decision making and training within the firm as well. "And we have noticed an increase in the number of partners asking for help with their development plans since we launched upward feedback," she says. "On the other side of the coin, our employees feel that the feedback provided is important and valued."
KPMG originally ran a pilot with a select partner group, and Makin says this pilot was integral to the decision to implement it throughout the firm. "In hindsight, we could have done more testing to ensure the process was as smooth for the whole of the group, but we were eager to do a full rollout," she says.
Tips on rolling out a system successfully
- Have a thorough idea of your system requirements and guiding principles, and partner with a vendor from the beginning in the design process.
- Take time to do a test run with a pilot. This mitigates risk, reduces debate on design and creates an opportunity to iron out any potential problems before the system is rolled out company-wide. Really focus on wording of questions, keeping in mind the wide audience who will be responding and the impact of this on future leadership behaviours.
- Engage people after the pilot, and conduct workshops with participants. An unexpected bonus of this process was that despite the fact the focus of the initiative was on partners, employees felt really valued at being asked for their feedback on leaders, and were therefore engaged.
Source: Human Resources Leader
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