Performance Management and Coaching: Financial Services

Creating a Coaching Culture at a Financial Services Firm

Client Case Study

Situation

An industry leader in the real estate investment market was looking for an innovative approach to improve performance, engage employees, and reinforce the unique culture it had built over the last decade.

The company felt that the discipline of coaching exemplified the approaches, perspectives, and behaviors they wanted their managers and executives to demonstrate in their employee interactions.  They also wanted to create an intrinsically motivating work environment to drive engagement and performance.

The overall goal was to create a company-wide coaching environment and to implement effective performance management systems that would be embraced and consistently used by employees, managers and executives. There were 6 key project principles:

  1. Culture: Develop a solution that supports and fosters the company’s culture
  2. Empowerment: Empower managers to be true facilitators of employee development
  3. Support: Provide employees with information and tools to take ownership of their performance
  4. Simplify: Eradicate the dreaded, annual (bi-annual) performance review
  5. Accountability: Shift ownership for employee development from HR to executive and manager teams
  6. Learning Organization: Instill continuous learning and improvement to allow the system to evolve as needed

Complications

  • Relevance: Recognizing that investment institutions rarely have employee development as a top priority
  • Skepticism: Starting on the heels of a prior coaching development initiative that received mixed reviews while overcoming the “flavor of the month” reaction by all employees
  • Executive Support: Getting buy-in from all managers and executives

  • Change: Letting go of long-standing, traditional metrics

Approach

The overall approach of this initiative was to build a coaching, performance measurement, and evaluation system designed by and for the people that would be using it—executives, managers, and individual contributors.

People at all levels were engaged in a collaborative and iterative design process that produced a performance coaching system that would work for their specific needs and environment. The approach also focused on providing a high level of transparency in the change process and in each aspect of development for the new processes and systems. Developing and implementing the new approach included the following 6 components:

1.  Assessment: 

To ensure the initiative would be successful, we reviewed the existing performance systems, processes, and tools to determine what supported a coaching environment and the company culture and what did not. A cultural survey was used to assess employee satisfaction, values alignment, and potential barriers to success. The assessment surfaced a number of key issues that could pose potential barriers to success, including:

  • Dissatisfaction with the current performance appraisal system, the existing 360°, and the overall strategic initiative management processes
  • The perception that the current Performance Measurement and evaluation systems were subjective and unfair

Based on the assessment findings, the company expanded the initiative to encompass the following additional components: Greater focus and feedback on employee satisfaction, goal development and goal management, performance measurement and metrics, performance analysis, developing training and an automated platform to facilitate the above areas and aligning compensation with coaching and performance objectives

This broadened and integrated perspective became known as AMPS – which stands for Assessment, Motivation, and Performance System. It is a process for facilitating manager and employee interactions, setting successful goals, coaching, and motivating. AMPS focuses on ensuring that employees have clear, achievable, and understood goals while helping to facilitate conversations between managers and employees.

Approach (cont)

2. Coaching

Executive coaching started at the beginning of the project and focused on a simple and engaging process for executives to coach their direct reports and model the desired behaviors. Coaching then expanded down through the organization to both Directors and Managers to create alignment and pull-through.

3. AMPS System

AMPS also spawned a server-based technology platform that manages a 360° assessment, goal development, and a simple performance management process. The system uses a dashboard that both managers and employees access to track goal progress and completion. The dashboard design was based on input from management regarding use and functionality. The final version only contains features used and valued by management. The AMPS system provides the ability to:

  • Create, track, edit, and evaluate goals on a weekly basis
  • Build performance evaluation consistency for employees through detailed expectations
  • Drive regularly scheduled conversations between managers and employees
  • Track AMPS Conversations (what we call coaching conversations) between manager and employee
  • Use a dashboard to access all aspects of the performance system
  • Have users maintain the system

4. 360 Evaluation

  1. The company collaboratively worked together to create a new set of values and cultural standards that best represented the organization both in reality and aspiration
  2. A Values 360 Assessment was created using the values definitions created with the management team and employees
  3. A widely validated motivation model was incorporated into the 360
  4. A company-specific coaching model was developed to use with the 360 assessment

5. Training

From a development perspective, we focused on two key areas to ensure adoption.

  1. We worked one-on-one with the executive team and management to help them to better coach and support their employees
  2. We created AMPS Tools and techniques to help employees and managers effectively use the AMPS System and fully integrate it into their company culture

6. Compensation

To ensure accountability and reinforcement, we tightly tied AMPS performance measurement to individual performance bonuses. The weighting was follows.

  • 40% for performance goals (day-to-day responsibilities)
  • 30% from personal development goals (reflecting career paths, gaps in skills, or growth opportunities)
  • 30% from the Values 360 Assessment delivered twice a year

Results

In twenty four months:

  • 100% adoption of new process and tools
  • 80% high quality goals
  • 85% of employees hit their goals
  • 95% of employees are now performing above standard on the Values 360 Assessment

Related Information

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LSA’s approach has certainly brought value to Knight Ridder Digital. They were laser focused on our goal and determined to meet all of our Leadership development program needs. Their flexibility and commitment were keys in making our program successful.

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The customized leadership styles and coaching program was the best training that I have ever attended. The facilitators were phenomenal. They have a wealth of experience and knowledge coupled with compassionate and caring styles. I’d highly recommend this leadership training program to any manager, director, or executive looking for a life changing leadership program.

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Rob Sturgeon
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We have had a very beneficial partnership with LSA for over 2 years. The recent Leadership Development Program that they designed and customized with us to help us identify, develop, and retain top leaders in the organization was a huge success. It was instrumental in helping take our company and our key people to the next level. I would recommend their training and consulting services to anyone looking to develop and retain top talent.

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