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Author's profile photo Lara Albert

Are Continuous Performance Conversations in Your Future?

Last week I had the pleasure of attending my first-ever SuccessConnect.

As I headed to Las Vegas I must admit – I was uber excited about the chance to meet with a host of customers across many industries. After three action-packed days at The Venetian, I’m happy to say that the event did not disappoint.

SAP SuccessFactors president, Mike Ettling delivered an incredibly inspiring keynote that was full of exciting announcements and awards.

Two SuccessFactors product execs unveiled a host of breakthrough innovations along with astonishing demonstrations of new solution features and functionality.

NBA legend Magic Johnson fascinated attendees with a brilliant story of his rise to the top both on the court and in the business world highlighting the many challenges he’s overcome.

Esteemed author, HuffPost founder and CEO of Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington provoked entirely new thinking around the need for sleep and how to achieve the work life balance our culture so desperately needs.

And last but not least, there was the opportunity to connect with customer visionaries to gain unique perspective on how HR – and in particular performance management – is changing and what’s most critical when it comes to defining and ensuring a winning strategy.

Cloud and mobile make new approaches possible

Indeed last week’s event provided an active forum for insightful panel discussions to shed light on the performance management revolution that’s taking place. What was interesting was hearing customers share their performance management journeys and how they are making use of cloud and mobile technology innovations to enable entirely new approaches.

What was also exciting was seeing customers’ interest in Continuous Performance Management, which we launched earlier this year as part of SAP SuccessFactors Performance & Goals. Attendees packed the rooms of breakout sessions to hear customers talk about their experience using the technology to shift to a culture of more open and continuous performance oriented dialogue and feedback.

One company discussed how they are using the technology to transform the effectiveness of their field sales teams by enabling managers who accompany sales representatives on customer visits to provide just-in-time feedback and coaching and then capture it so it can be referred to in future conversations.

Another company talked about finally being able to track who is having one-on-one conversations, when they are occurring and how often.  They have a unique culture that’s based on year-round manager-employee dialogue about performance and career development. Managers at the company are expected to have regular coaching sessions with employees but in many cases could not be held accountable. The tool also helps them remind managers and employees to have check-ins when they’re not occurring. 

Enhancing your existing performance management process

So how does Continuous Performance Management fit in the context of existing performance management processes? It’s a question we get a lot and what I tell organizations is that there is no single or best approach. Companies across healthcare, hospitality, financial services, high tech, retail, etc. are all embracing Continuous Performance Management but not necessarily in the same way.

Today most companies follow a traditional performance process that looks like this:


Yet we hear a lot about the “performance gap” between the time employees establish goals and when they discuss performance outcomes with their managers. Because of this, moving forward we expect to see the majority of companies using continuous performance conversations in conjunction with goals management and a performance assessment, essentially to bridge the gap.  This will mean that companies establish goals and then maintain performance focused dialogue and feedback between managers and employees throughout the year. With this approach, they still retain the formal review to meet legal and record keeping requirements, but it’s more of a “lightweight” performance assessment.


Then there are some companies moving toward no assessment at all. This makes sense for companies that want to eliminate the performance review, but still want be able to benchmark employee performance for legal and record keeping purposes. In this scenario, organizations use the aggregated data from Continuous Performance Management to perform collaborative calibration sessions prior to making performance-based compensation decisions.


Finally, there are companies that want to eliminate reviews, ratings, and calibration, and use performance conversations throughout the year to direct compensation decisions. It’s certainly a more radical approach and unlikely to become mainstream but works well for companies that want to eliminate all formalities of the performance management process as well as the linear workflow.


Webinar! Tune in for continuous performance management best practices

Everyone agrees that reaping the benefits of Continuous Performance Management is not as easy as flipping on a switch. For more discussion around best practices, don’t miss our VIP Webinar: Designing Your Continuous Performance Management Process featuring Geoff Fetner and Jackie Ato from our Product Management and Solution Adoption teams, respectively. They will deep dive into our current Continuous Performance Management capabilities as well as our vision and roadmap. You will also learn practical design options to consider when building a culture of continuous performance management.

To register, click here. Please note that this is a customer-only event so you must be a SuccessFactors customer and be logged into the Customer Community (link here) in order to register. The session will be recorded for on-demand access from the VIP section of the Customer Community. Hope you can make it!

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