How Chargebee, a $3Bn SaaS Unicorn, Designed Its Performance Management System

Let’s learn from the experts. In this article, we dive deep into Chargebee’s performance management practices — from goals to reviews to rewards and policies

7

min read

10 second summary

  • OKRs are an effective goal setting practice to build an effective  performance management system
  • A performance management system should focus on uncovering strengths as well as weaknesses
  • Written feedback constitutes an important part of performance management, which the leaders must guide the managers to undertake
  • An effective goal management system should focus on clearly communicating the top priorities
  • Having a contribution-driven rating scale over expectation-driven rating scale is important
  • It is important to de-link compensation and review conversations

Continuing our focus on performance management, we recently had a discussion with the Chargebee team to learn what performance management practices they followed to build a $3Bn SaaS unicorn. In our 3rd episode of The Talent Talks, we were thrilled to be joined by Rajaraman Santhanam, Co-Founder & COO and Lavanya Gopinath, Director, Ops, Chargebee. 

For those of you who aren’t aware of Chargebee’s name, it’s a financial services company that rose to unicorn status in record time. With 1300 employees and despite having a steady emphasis on high performance, Chargebee is known for its employee-centric people management practices. 

Let’s get into the details of how Chargebee creates a high performance culture all year round and see what we can adopt to scale faster.

Performance management system at Chargebee

What was the context when you designed your performance management system?

When we started in 2011, there were not a lot of startups and the biggest source of revenue was from Europe. Sitting in Chennai, India, the only way to acquire knowledge about selling to customers in Europe was by talking to people and learning. Thus, learning continuously and building a network to learn from became important, which overtime evolved into a culture of continuous learning. After 4-5 years, we decided to build the core values or tenets for Chargeebee, by gathering a lot of team members together and brainstorming on what values do they identify with Chargbee. Four core values came to the forefront, Curiosity, Customer Centricity, Empathy and Bias for Action. 

Four core values at Chargebee — Curiosity, Customer Centricity, Empathy and Bias for Action

Eventually, these have become the basis for how we operate across all verticals, including our  performance management system. 

What are the constituents of the performance management system at Chargebee?

With performance being at the center of the performance management system, we look at it from a team and an individual perspective. 

Components of team performance management system

  • Adopted the OKR framework about 2 years ago, which became the big rock for team performance within the performance management system
  • Each team has specific KPIs which add to their performance management

Components of individual performance management system

  • Created our own evolution of the OKR framework, which we call Individual OKRs or IOKRs, which is still evolving
  • IOKRs also bring in learning and development into setting goals at the individual level. 

Process of our performance management system

  • Annual performance rating, review conversations and a rating cycle 
  • Quarterly review conversations aligned to the quarterly goal setting cycle 
  • Bi-weekly one-on-one conversations, also focusing on review and feedback 

Thus, formal performance review as a part of our performance management system is annual in nature, but is supported organically by continuous interventions. 

Also Read: How to successfully run weekly, quarterly and annual OKR reviews

Philosophy of the performance management 

  • Focus on uncovering strengths to value team members for what they bring to the table and delegate work accordingly
  • Focus on weaknesses to understand the gaps and facilitate hiring for the skills gap
  • Strengths and weaknesses are uncovered by review and self reflection from team members on areas of non-clarity, knowledge sharing, etc. 

Recognition for performance at Chargebee

  • Focus on a culture of recognizing each other. Rolled out a program called Rewards by Bonusly which allows team members to celebrate those who help them become successful or achieve an accomplishment, i.e. celebrating help by others
  • Decentralized recognition efforts with flexibility for teams to decide which are the best and the right practices for effective recognition that they are most convinced about
  • Supported by other efforts like spot bonuses in the form of cash, eSOPs, etc.
Chargebee has decentralized recognition efforts with flexibility for teams to decide which are the best and the right practices for effective recognition that they are most convinced about

Also Read: How manager can help employees write a great self assessment

How can organizations drive a strengths based performance management culture?

We started by creating a culture of written feedback to identify strengths. Our focus towards strengths based performance management involves:

  • Giving feedback in writing, be it bi-weekly, quarterly or annually which becomes a frame of reference and the next feedback comes on top of that which enables everyone to reflect on their progress every now and then
  • Capturing 360 degree feedback in writing to identify behavioral patterns and to highlight strengths and areas of improvement
  • Adopting the right communication frameworks to share the feedback so others are able to receive it openly
  • Encouraging our team members to share feedback directly
  • Being specific in feedback that others can relate to and absorb and form action items 
  • Getting in the habit of sharing feedback 1-o-1 and in real time
To become a part of such conversations and learn from the top HR leaders directly, sign up for The Talent Tribe, the best online community for HR and talent management professionals

Goal management with OKRs at Chargebee

What is the context behind the goal management system chosen by Chargebee? 

We adopted the OKR framework as our goal management system about two years back. Our goal management system is based on the philosophy that we need to:

  • Focus on fewer things, but go deep into the focus items
  • Clearly communicate the top priorities for the organization
  • Reinforce the top priorities among team members

For instance, last year we acquired a few companies and our goal for this year is to unleash the multi-product motion by learning as much as possible about those companies to increase revenue from direct selling, cross selling and upselling. For Chargebee, the goal management system is essentially about clearly communicating the goals. 

How did you introduce and roll out OKRs at Chargebee?

Before adopting OKRs, teams used to set their own goals, which were not visible on a single dashboard and leaders used share goals, which was often conversational. However, in the growth phase, making the goals visible became really important to enable people to align and prioritize. Thus, we built the habit of setting goals quarterly and making them visible for everyone. This led to what we called the ‘Quarterly Commits’ and the idea was to keep them focused and visible to everybody. 

In the growth phase, making the goals visible became really important to enable people to align and prioritize. Thus, we built the habit of setting goals quarterly and making them visible for everyone

We put these Quarterly Commits on sheets, which facilitated visibility, gentle nudges, checking other’s commits, getting an understanding of what others are doing and how one can add value to prioritize one's own commits.  This set the stage for OKRs because they were simple, focused on big rocks with measurable outcomes. We started it as a pilot project for a few teams for a quarter and then finally rolled it out for the entire organization. 

How do you apply OKRs for goal setting and performance management system?

Today, the OKRs exist at three levels and focus on setting and reviewing.

Setting OKRs

  • Between october-november, there are a lot of conversations at the executive levels, focused on questions to craft the company OKRs. This is an annual exercise which is reviewed every quarter to ensure relevance. They are made visible to everyone by mid-december.
  • This gives the directional impetus to create quarterly priorities and OKRs at the functional level. The focus is also on alignment between functions to facilitate cross collaborations. Thus, there is a sharing of functional OKRs at a quarterly level. 

Reviewing OKRs

  • Organizational level reviews to gauge OKR progress happens on a monthly basis.
  • Within teams, it might be even more rigorous, which has been left for the teams to decide, depending upon what their key results are. Sometimes it makes sense to do it on a weekly basis, sometimes bi-weekly and sometimes monthly. 

Furthermore, on a quarterly basis, the CEO goes and shares progress, thoughts on where we are, as well as what we need to correct and what can be done better with an open presentation with the entire organization. Using a specific OKR tool provided a hierarchical view to help us understand what maps to what. 

On a quarterly basis, the CEO goes and shares progress, thoughts on where we are, as well as what we need to correct and what can be done better with an open presentation with the entire organization

How do organizational and team goals translate to individual goals at Chargebee?

It's a collaborative process. This also happens at the quarterly level

  • Once the team OKRs are set, the manager is able to give some level of visibility into the priority for the team. This enables the individuals to set their own development goals and their specific contribution goals to a team OKR. 
  • There is a specific conversation on the goal setting itself which works in tandem with the quarterly review and expectation setting cycle. 
  • There are inputs from the manager, but there is also an input from the individual which are captured in the IOKRs.
  • Focus is on asking a lot of questions in order to take a key result and make it really quantifiable to augment clarity. 
  • We emphasize on the importance of building the habit. While creating a goal setting system is not an easy task, we focus on building perseverance to adhere to it and breaking out of the inertia to build this as a habit and organization. 
  • We have evolved into the place where people have started thinking about clearly articulated outcomes as OKRs.  
  • To avoid the confusion of KPIs or KRAs, we decided to evolve with IOKRs. 
Without building a habit and knowledge about the OKRs, any efforts towards OKRs will not work out really well. Thus, it is important to invest time in the beginning to bring the knowledge level of OKRs up and build the habit for the first 2-3 quarters to break the inertia, post which stabilization and perseverance begins

Thus, OKRs start from the CEO and stop at the team level, while IOKRs are for all team members, individually. Building a habit and knowledge about the OKRs are extremely important and without handling these two, any efforts towards OKRs will not work out really well. Thus, it is important to invest time in the beginning to bring the knowledge level of OKRs up and build the habit for the first 2-3 quarters, post which stabilization begins. 

Performance review and assessment at Chargebee

What is the frequency of performance assessment for the performance management system?

  • At an organizational level, performance assessment as a part of the performance management system is a quarterly practice to capture performance reviews and notes into the HRMS system
  • Some teams capture notes monthly which feed into the quarterly conversation, to make the process simpler
  • The annual level conversation partly focuses on the performance that went by, but also is an opportunity to frame the opportunities for an individual in the upcoming year, along with goals 
  • The annual performance assessment is a two-part conversation where we also share the rating of how the individual has contributed to the organization 

Also Read: How often should you conduct a performance review

How did you decide on the right rating scale?

We looked at the three-point scale, the five-point scale and questioned if we needed a point scale. Furthermore, there were questions whether ratings mattered at all. Then, we decided to apply them to our context and see what would be meaningful. 

We transitioned performance rating from an understanding of meeting expectations to reflecting the contributions of an individual, vis-à-vis reflecting the expectations of the manager or the team. 

That was the pivot, a contribution based rating:

  • It is a four-point scale
  • The two middle options are solid contributors who are really good at their job in the middle and strong contributors who probably take it up a notch and go beyond the contributions of that role. You can see their contributions visibly in other parts of the organization and other teams
  • The outlier on one end of the spectrum are the exceptional contributors 
  • The other end of the spectrum has limited contributors who are newer and are trying to get their feet wet and trying to figure out how they can grow into a solid contributor 
  • The frame is to show people where they are now and maybe where they can feel help in order to perhaps contribute better

Where is this rating scale used? 

Most rating scales focus on performance of the past, however, as a part of our performance management system, we believe that any appraisal or promotion is for what they will do in the future. Thus, our performance rating scale seeks to capture the philosophy of focusing on the future. 

For instance, if someone has a bad performance in a quarter and if you're still excited about that person because they have continuously performed well, and believe that they are a strong contributor, you need to give them a rating that reflects that. Our rating scale brings this change into the conversation between the manager and the team member. For us, every performance review is a hiring decision. 

For us, every performance review is a hiring decision

We also request the manager and team member to mutually align on the rating for the performance management system. We expect there is no ambiguity on the rating and the areas of improvement as part of the performance review. 

Finally, the contributor rating plays an important role in awarding the compensation revision. The onus of this performance review for performance management system is put on the individuals instead of the managers so that the individuals take ownership of blocking a time, writing it down and ensuring that their manager also writes it down and then owns its own outcome for that. 

Also read: 100+ self review comments and phrases for performance assessment

How do you de-link compensation and ratings for team members?

Compensation is a function of the market as well. Thus, if someone who is a solid contributor has some issues with compensation, we review it on a case to case basis. Furthermore, these two conversations, compensation and recency, happen at least with a gap of thirty days, to ensure there is no recency bias. The compensation is driven by a strong recommendation from the HR around the range and each team also has a budget which they can allocate as they see fit. 

What principles should organizations follow while designing their performance management system? 

Try and understand what sort of an organization you want to build i.e. what are you really looking for in your people or what is that thing that needs to be in your DNA

At Chargebee, the hunger to learn and grow is something that you can see is what we look for, and that is probably an identifiable trait that you can notice. 

  • Write down the traits you are looking for 
  • Keep your performance management system simple
  • Articulate the why and share it with the team
  • Keep iterating as you scale

Is there a bell curve which you follow?

No, there is not really a bell curve that we follow at Chargebee, yet. We personally don't believe in the bell curve but we need to see as we scale through our own journey and how it evolves in the next one or two years. 

How do you train managers to deliver feedback effectively?

  • Showing managers how to write feedback is an important exercise that organizations have to go through from the top
  • Adopting the coaching methodology and then demand from managers to do it for their 1-o-1 team members 
  • Running and a lot of office hours leading up to the final date of the closing the performance review conversation, having the managers come to the HR team to walk them through some of the samples written down and how they could use the framework
  • Rolling out a proper manager program focused only on effectively giving written feedback

Wrapping up

To conclude, it is clear that effective goal setting with OKRs, performance review and written feedback collectively contribute to a robust performance management program. It is important to have a clear vision in mind when designing a performance management system, both on what you seek to achieve and the DNA of the organization you're trying to build. Finally, it is important to keep iterating on the go, to adapt to new realities and dynamic priorities

Suggested Reading

150+ useful performance review phrases for managers

8 best performance management software in 2022

How to strategically align compensation and performance management

Stay updated with talent and performance management best practices. Register for The Talent Tribe today

Sudeshna Roy

Marketing, SuperBeings

Hi There! I am Sudeshna. At SuperBeings, I lead our content strategy to bring you the best and latest on everything related to people management

Latest posts

Engagement
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Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS): How to Use eNPS for Better Engagement

“Every employee can affect your company’s brand”- Tony Hseih, Former CEO, Zappos

TL:DR

Employee NPS is a key component for your organization if you wish to create a culture which engages, motivates and inspires employees and encourages them to recommend it to their friends. Here are a few quick points that you should not forget:

  • It helps organizations gauge the level of engagement and experience for employees by segmenting employees into promoters, passives and detractors (discussed later)
  • eNPS is important as it helps in employee retention as well as facilitate fast and effective hiring by ensuring a winning employer brand
  • It is best to conduct eNPS surveys on a regular basis to gauge trends over cycles and address fluctuations in real time
  • To improve your eNPS, you must focus on understanding each segment of employees and taking appropriate action
  • You must acknowledge that passives have a great potential of changing your eNPS and you should focus your efforts on bringing them up the score spectrum
  • Finally, you must use eNPS as a means to boost employee morale and track level and reasons for disengagement

Now let’s get into the nitty-gritties of employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) and how you can use them effectively.

What is employee Net Promoter Score?

eNPS is or employee NPS is a measure of employee loyalty and how they feel about your organization. It is a scoring mechanism that employees can use to share their satisfaction/ dissatisfaction with the company culture, which in turn helps leaders to gauge the impact it will have on the organization. 

The advent of eNPS came as a result of realizing that employees have an equal impact on an organization as the customers

For instance, if any employee leaves a bad review or reports a bad experience about your organization, it might act as a deterrent for other high performing candidates from applying to your organization.

In a nutshell, eNPS is one of the top tools you can use to gauge how satisfied your employees are with your company culture and measure whether or not your employee engagement and other efforts are actually bearing fruits. 

How to calculate eNPS?

You can calculate the eNPS for your organization by subtracting the percentage of promoters from the percentage of detractors. Let’s quickly understand what this means. 

You will start by asking your employees to rate their experience on a rating scale of 0-10. You can have questions like ‘How likely are you to recommend the organization to your peers or friends, on a scale of 0-10’. We will talk more about potential questions in subsequent sections. Depending on their experience, your employees will share their rating. Based on the rating, you can segment your employees into three categories:

  • Promoters: With a rating of 9-10; they are highly loyal, motivated and inspired and show full commitment to the organization
  • Passives: With a rating of 7-8; they are generally neutral, while they are happy with the experience, their level of loyalty and commitment may not be as high as the promoters
  • Detractors: With a rating of 0-6; they are generally dissatisfied, lack loyalty, inspiration and motivation and may not recommend the organization to others
eNPS= %of promoters - %of detractors

For instance, if your organization has a total of 100 employees and 61 are promoters, 18 are detractors and 21 are passives, then your eNPS= 61%-18% = 43

The higher the eNPS, the more advocates you have. This suggests you will have an ecosystem of high percentage of employees that are loyal, inspired, motivated and committed. 

enps

Why does eNPS matter?

For growing organizations like yours there are several reasons why eNPS matters to create a sustainable workplace. Such as —

1. Get a picture of your employer branding

Research shows that the majority of candidates read six reviews before forming an opinion about a company and 70% of people look to reviews before they make career decisions

With employee NPS, you will know how likely your employees are to recommend your organization to others outside. This ensures employer branding which determines the quality of talent you will be able to attract. 

By ensuring a good Net Promoter Score from employees, you will be able to manage the reviews effectively. 

2, Identify your advocates in a simple and quick manner

Employee NPS is very easy to execute, fast and cost-effective. At the same time, it gives you a clear picture of who are the advocates for your organization vs those who are disengaged and are unlikely to make recommendations. This information has two-fold benefits:

  • You can create personalized plans to engage the different employee segments based on results
  • You can leverage the reasons your promoters or advocates list for high level of loyalty and focus on enhancing the same

3. Reduce employee turnover

It is very rare that an employee will one day decide to leave your organization out of nowhere. Often, the decision to quit starts in advance and can be attributed to several factors including disengagement and dissatisfaction. eNPS, conducted regularly, can help you anticipate potential turnover in advance, when the employee rates low on the eNPS survey. You can use this data to fine tune your engagement plan and identify and address specific challenges. 

🚀 Predict and prevent turnover with employee experience surveys by SuperBeings. Learn more 

4. Hire faster

As stated above, eNPS directly impacts the quality of the talent you attract. Similarly, it also impacts how fast you are able to close an open position. If you have a high eNPS, you will receive a higher inflow of applications because your organization will be branded as a preferred place to work. This higher number of applications will translate to faster interviews and closures. Invariably, this will prevent the loss of work hours between transitions. 

5. Gauge employee trends over time

Finally, eNPS can help you track employee loyalty and engagement over time. If individual and overall employee NPS increases, it reflects that your interventions are moving the needle. However, if the score drops, you may need to relook at your practices and understand the root cause. 

Employee NPS cycles

As mentioned before, employee NPS is generally measured with eNPS surveys. Therefore, like any other feedback cycle, your eNPS surveys should also follow a structured and cyclical approach. Here are to create an effective eNPS survey process —

1. Ensure anonymity

Make your eNPS ratings confidential and anonymous. Do not force your employees to give names along with ratings or do not disclose ratings of one to another even if you know who it is from. One of the easiest ways is to use a platform that doesn’t capture respondent data, except the rating. Anonymity will help build employee trust and ensure honesty in the rating received

2. Keep it short

Refrain from adding too many questions in your eNPS rating. A maximum of 2-3 questions is more than enough. While most organizations use 1 central or core question, you can supplement it with another one to augment impact. For instance, one question can be about probability to recommend, while the other could be on motivation, inspiration.

3. Make it frequent

Having an eNPS rating at regular intervals is important. Ideally, as a growing organization, you should have a monthly cadence. However, if that seems overwhelming, you can start with a quarterly rating, and gradually increase the frequency. 

4. Use a 10 point rating scale or open ended questions

While a 2 or 5 point rating scale can also capture data, a 10 point scale and open ended questions enable employees to be more specific about their answer by giving them more options to choose from. The deeper your eNPS survey insights are, the more accurate actions you can take to improve your score.

5. Follow up

Just because responding to an eNPS question requires one click, you cannot assume that you’ll receive 100% participation. You must follow up a couple of times. Using employee survey tools to increase survey participation rate can be useful here. For example, SuperBeings sends reminders and follow up nudges at preset intervals via existing chat tools (Slack, Teams, Gchat etc) directly in the flow of work to maximize response rate. 

6. Encourage authentic answers

Finally, you must encourage your employees to be honest in their rating. Anonymity will help you achieve this. Additionally, explain to your employees that the answers will not have an impact on their appraisal and their negative rating will not land them in a backlash. 

eNPS survey questions

As a best practice, you can start your employee NPS survey with a core question and then you could follow it up with a few open ended questions. Your first question must follow a rating pattern to get your employee Net Promoter Score. Some of the questions can be:

  • How likely are you to recommend your organization as a workplace to your friends/ peers?
  • On a scale of 0-10, how inspired do you feel to work at this organization?
  • What is the primary reason for the score you gave?
  • What can the organization do better to get a higher score?
  • What is one reason that is preventing you from recommending the organization to your friends?
  • What is one reason why you enjoy working here?

Here are a few best practices you can use while preparing your follow up questions:

  • Don’t be too vague with your questions
  • Try to keep your questions open ended to get support for your core questions
  • Try to get specific answers with 1 or 2 instances

What is a good employee NPS score?

While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact score which can be considered good, there are a few ways to measure how well your performance has been on eNPS. 

If you look closely, by formula, your score can range from -100 to +100, depending on the ratio of your promoters and detractors. Generally, any positive score, that is, a score above 0 is considered to be a good starting point. This indicates that there are more promoters in your organization than detractors. This translates to the fact that more employees are likely to recommend your organization than those who will not. 

However, only a positive score is not the end of the story. While a positive score represents retention and recommendation, the higher the score, the greater will be propensity and impact.

Use eNPS benchmarks

Furthermore, you must also align your eNPS with other organizations in your industry. For instance, while 60 might be a great score, if all organizations in your industry have an eNPS of 70+, then you may need to relook at your numbers. 

Here, studying industry benchmarks can help. However, eNPS is not a data point that is publicly available that you can consume. 

At the same time, your own eNPS can also be a benchmark for you over time with an aim to increase every time. The idea is to track your own company’s fluctuation, positive or negative, to identify the reasons or interventions behind the same. 

Unlock top engagement survey question templates and advanced employee analytics. See SuperBeings in Action

How to improve employee NPS?

eNPS surveys can disillusion even the most people friendly organizations. It is not rare to have a survey score below expectations. But improving eNPS is easier than you think:

1. Capture eNPS regularly

You must have heard that what gets measured, gets improved. The same is true for eNPS. When you capture employee NPS on a regular basis, you can track fluctuations and gauge whether or not the needle is moving. You can get a real time picture of whether the promoters or the detractors are increasing. Furthermore, the fluctuations can help you identify how specific interventions or regular organizational activities impact eNPS. 

2. Share the results

No matter what the results say, share it with your team members. Even if you have a negative score, share it with the team to facilitate collaborative thinking on what is going wrong. This will help you create an image that you are truly listening to your employees and are taking action. After sharing results, follow up and communicate the next action steps so your employees know that their voices are being heard and impact is being created. 

3. Understand the rationale

To improve eNPS, you need to understand the rationale or the reason behind each rating. Here, you should ask follow up questions to your employees on what contributed to this particular rating. On one hand, it will help you understand the motivation or the inspiration for promoters as well as you will be able to identify what is stopping detractors from recommending the organization to others. 

Put simply, the factors mentioned by promoters can be augmented and focused on, while those from detractors must be addressed or resolved 

4. Take action 

Once you share the results and engage in collective brainstorming, you must take action. 

  • Example 1: If the major reason behind low eNPS is lack of work-life balance, your focus should be on addressing the same, by facilitating workplace boundaries. 
  • Example 2: If lack of career growth is stopping your employees from recommending the companies to others, investing in mentorship, learning and development, career coaching, etc. can be extremely helpful.

5. Communicate with all segments

If you think that you only need to focus on detractors to improve your eNPS, you are mistaken. While you definitely need to pay attention to them, the other two segments, i.e. promoters and passives must not be left attended. 

  • When it comes to detractors, your focus should be on their pain points, how it translates to a poor experience and what you can do to reverse the same. 
  • For promoters, while you may think they are happy, engaged and don’t require any intervention, you must not lose attention on them and focus on keeping their rating high. Furthermore, when you communicate with them, you will be able to get insights for long term strategies. 
  • For passives, focus on understanding what would make their experience within the organization and the role even better and more meaningful.

6. Improve continuously

When it comes to improving your eNPS, there is no stopping point. Just because you improve your eNPS by 20 points, doesn’t mean you have reached the pinnacle, even if you are above the industry average. 

  • While in the first few years of your employees’ lifecycle, you will focus on retention and loyalty by ensuring a positive score,
  • In the later years, your focus should be on making the employees feel inspired, motivated and committed to unleashing high levels of innovation and productivity. 

7. Follow up with more comprehensive feedback

Employee Net Promoter Score must be a part of a more comprehensive employee feedback framework. The idea is to get more qualitative feedback and insights to compliment the score. You can use open-ended survey comments for this purpose. Such feedback will help you understand where the score came from and how you can take steps to move in the right direction. 

8. Understand the passives

Finally, to improve your eNPS, you need to focus on the passives. Based on the formula, you might think that passives have no role to play in eNPS. However, you must understand that they are just one point away from falling in the detractor or the promoter category. Here, your focus should be on moving them up the spectrum. Getting qualitative inputs from them is very important as they have some level of commitment and positive regard towards the organization already. 

How to use employee NPS for better engagement

With eNPS, you can turn employee feedback into a growth strategy both as a business and as an employer. Here’s how:

1. Boosts morale

First, employee NPS boosts the morale of employees who believe that their voice has value and is being heard. It makes employees feel included in the process of building the right culture. Employees who participate in eNPS come with a sense of pride as being a contributor to building the overall experience in the organization. It also comes with a sense of respect when an organization asks the employees for their perception.

2. Understand level of disengagement

Low or negative eNPS is a clear indicator of the level of disengagement. It shares an inverse relationship.

Lower the eNPS, higher will be the disengagement

Obviously, only when employees feel disengaged at work, will they not recommend it to others in their network. This can act as initial information for your organization to create strategic plans to reverse the trend. Furthermore, fluctuations in eNPS can be useful when it comes to sudden disengagement which may not be very apparent, but can lead to mass turnover. 

3. Gauge factors contributing to engagement

A deep dive into the qualitative aspects of eNPS can help you understand the factors contributing to engagement or disengagement. For instance, if a promoter claims that they gave a high score because of the focus on wellness, it becomes clear that wellness programs can augment engagement. Similarly, if the reason for a detractor is high workload, effective distribution can help improve engagement levels. 

Increase employee NPS with SuperBeings

Creating, communicating and analyzing employee surveys can be intimidating and time taking. To conduct eNPS in a comprehensive and hassle free manner, you can partner with SuperBeings. Here’s what you get with our employee engagement survey feature —

  • Built-in survey templates: Reduce the time to create survey questionnaires by using science backed, best practices pre-built survey templates. You can customize them as you need.
  • Choose the most suitable rating scale: You get full flexibility to customize each question by choosing from a wide array of rating scale options — 2, 5, 7 or 10 point scale, multiple choice and open-ended.
  • Filter options for better comparison: For each question you can filter the responses at manager, department or org level and compare them on a single dashboard. Also, you get deeper insights into each question on the Insights tab
  • Use comments for qualitative feedback: Understand the sentiments behind each response by looking into open-ended comments left by participants
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what you can do with our engagement survey tool. At SuperBeings, we are constantly trying to improve the engagement processes and make it easier for the people leaders. 

Need a helping hand? Talk to our product expert. 💡

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Performance
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min read

7 Steps to Effective Performance Management You Need to Know

“Most organizations fail to manage performance effectively because they fail to look into the system holistically.” - Pearl Zhu, Author of Performance Master

The impact of having an effective performance management system goes way beyond hitting quarterly targets, it also facilitates employee development, high levels of retention and a high performance culture. 

Yet sadly, most organizations do not spend nearly as much time and resources into planning and developing a wholesome performance management process as they do chasing goals.

In this article, we break down the components of an efficient performance management system and how you can achieve them in 7 easy steps.

7 tips for effective performance management

We spoke with several HR practitioners and below are the 7 steps they recommend to build a super effective performance management system.

But before that, it’s important to understand that — 

Improving performance is a collective responsibility. And it starts with shifting the mindset around performance — from appraisal to improvement, from annual to continuous. 

As HR leader and author of Nothing About Business says —

“Performance management is so tightly integrated with the business that Business has no option but to do it on its own.” 

1. Adopt a continuous approach

First, you need to start with a continuous approach to make your performance management effective. Simply relying on traditional approaches of annual check-ins, feedbacks and reviews will have limited impact considering the dynamic and volatile market ecosystem. To adopt a continuous approach for effective performance management, you should:

  • Promote regular check-ins and employee pulse surveys
  • Facilitate consistent and dynamic goal setting
  • Foster a culture of constant appreciation and recognition
  • Ensure frequent feedback, evaluation and interventions
  • Set regular cadence to reflect on diverse aspects of performance management

Read our detailed article on Continuous Performance Management to learn more.

2. Capture performance feedback regularly

Next, a major component of strategic performance management is capturing and analyzing performance feedback. You need to ensure that your employees are offered adequate and comprehensive feedback on their performance and areas of development are worked on. 

You can use our Performance Review Phrases template for such performance feedback recommendations.

At the same time, there should be focus on seeking feedback from your employees for self evaluation and to understand what they feel about their work and the organizational culture as a whole. 

Here adopting an employee feedback tool can enable you to find success easily. It can help you to not only capture feedback, but also generate insights and share heatmaps on how certain areas of performance can be improved, which is essential for finding success with your performance management initiatives. 

3. Facilitate meaningful 1:1 conversations

A good performance management goes way beyond just reviews and evaluations on how the performance of an employee has been. You need to equip all your line managers and leaders within the organization to conduct powerful and meaningful 1:1 conversations with their team members. 

The right conversations have the potential to preempt any potential risk of turnover, drop in productivity, low levels of motivation etc.

Once you have been able to identify any potential challenge, you need to ensure that the conversations take a new avatar. The idea is to have conversations that can address the surfacing risks. 

However, conducting directed conversations on different challenges can be overwhelming at times. Therefore, you may want to leverage a guided 1:1/ Meetings tool to train and equip your managers.

4. Identify learning opportunities

Based on the feedback, conversations, reviews, surveys that you conduct, you will have a clear picture of what factors are promoting high performance and which ones are deterrents. The latter ones form the areas of development and learning opportunities. You need to identify these areas of intervention and provide your employees with adequate resources and support to hone the skills and competencies that are needed for effective performance. 

Pulse surveys can be an effective way to gauge employee sentiment on a regular basis. 

Frequent pulse surveys are excellent for understanding how employees feel about their current capabilities vis-a-vis their role and the external support they need.

Ideally, you can also look at industry benchmarks to understand the types of learning opportunities available for different roles and provide them to your employees. 

Thus, to make the most of your performance management, you need to identify and acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of your organization as a collective measure of your employees and work towards them.

5. Promote coaching and mentoring

While effective performance management requires learning and development interventions, it is equally important to focus on guidance via mentoring and coaching. Your employees need the right mentorship to help them navigate through professional challenges that may not require upskilling but a change in mindset. Here setting up a formal mentorship program can contribute to effective performance management. 

Read: How to use employee coaching to unlock performance

You can also enable your managers to provide the right mentorship and coaching support. You can count on SuperBeings to help you ensure the same. 

  • On one hand, it offers opportunities for manager development with a focus on key leadership competencies that can enable your managers to become better leaders.
  • Additionally, the guided 1:1 conversations act as a mass coaching initiative where gradually your managers will master the art of coaching and mentoring. 

6. Navigate collaborations

Undoubtedly, a key step for effective performance management is to navigate collaborations for different aspects of the employee lifecycle. You need to adopt the right tool to capture employee pulse, feedback, review, facilitate continuous performance improvement and much more. Fortunately, today you can find all these features in a unified solution to relieve yourself from the costs of different tools and the added administrative hassles. 

7. Ensure recognition and reward performance 

The last and the final step for effective performance management is to ensure that you recognize and reward a job well done. This will catalyze a high performance culture by positively reinforcing those who performed well and encouraging others to improve their performance in a bid to achieve rewards and incentives. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Recognize efforts and results
  • Track performance continuously to reward consistency
  • Ensure that recognition translates to rewards, even if it is just an extra day off
  • Encourage career planning and mapping to illustrate recognition

Importance of effective performance management 

Before we finish, let’s quickly discuss the tangible benefits you will get if you have a solid performance management system. This will help you build a stronger case for performance management and secure leadership buy-in.

1. Employee development

Efficient performance management can help you in facilitating the right development opportunities for your employees. Based on a combination of expectations, feedback and conversations, you can enable your team members to grow in their professional journey. This will also facilitate higher retention

94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development. 

2. Organizational success

Effective performance management has the potential to create an equal impact on organizational success. When the performance of the teams and individuals increases, it will invariably positively impact the organization as a whole. As employee performance becomes better, productivity, quality of work and other related parameters also improve and impact the bottom line. Furthermore, it leads to creation of a high performance culture. Research shows, that good company culture could help you increase revenue by more than four times

3. Strategic allocation

If your organization is growing fast, you may have financial and budget constraints to spend towards employee development and training. 

47% of HR leaders are not aware of employee skill gaps, and 60% of HR leaders say that building new skills and competencies will be their top performance management priority.

An efficient performance management process can help ensure that you are able to allocate your resources to interventions that actually make an impact and eventually monitor, track and measure the return on investment

4. Clarity of expectations

Performance management goes beyond feedback and performance evaluation. In fact, it actually starts with creating a clarity of expectations. 

Most fast growing organizations are chasing multiple priorities and this leads to a confusion among employees on what is expected out of them. In fact, only 50% of employees would “strongly agree” they know what’s expected of them at work. A practical performance management process can help you and your managers create a clear path for employees with a focus on OKRs to ensure everyone is on the same page

5. Better engagement

Finally, performance management sets the stage for greater levels of engagement and a better employee experience. When employees feel valued and believe that you are taking genuine interest in helping them grow, the motivation, morale and commitment is bound to rise. As a result, they will be more engaged at work which will eventually show in their performance, productivity and quality of work. The impact on the bottom line is also phenomenal. 

Companies with a highly engaged workforce are 21% more profitable

Get started with effective performance management

Use the following resources to get started on everything you have learned so far —

And finally, to see how SuperBeings can help, talk to one of our experts today.

OKRs
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Agile and OKRs: What You Need to Know to Thrive in a VUCA World

It is no longer an assumption that the traditional approach to annual goal setting and review has run its course. The VUCA world demands more quick and adaptable business models.

While the agile values and methodology was initially created for software delivery, you can apply the same to transform how you set and achieve your business goals. 

In this article, we will focus on:

  • Relevance of agile and OKRs in the VUCA world
  • Importance of leveraging agile techniques for OKRs
  • Best agile and OKR framework for growing organizations

Why you need to reimagine goal setting in the VUCA world

Traditionally, goal setting has been a very static and long-term process for organizations. Here are a few key components of traditional goal setting and performance management:

  • Annual or multi-year goals with little or no interventions at regular intervals to realign on changing priorities
  • Top-down approach — goals being set by those at the top with minimal inputs from those working on the ground
  • Only annual feedback cycles and the inability to identify or address challenges in real time
  • Lack of flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances or situations, which are uncertain and ambiguous

This form of goal setting and performance management had relevance for organizations operating in steady and stable market conditions. 

However, in today’s VUCA world, the pace of change is skyrocketing and organizations unable to tide with the same are finding it extremely difficult to survive, let alone thrive. 

Some of the reasons to reimagine goal setting for VUCA world include:

  • Increased globalization requires businesses to be agile and adapt to changes at all times
  • Focus on creating short term goals and action plans
  • Need to relook at business priorities due to changing market conditions and customer expectations 
  • Need to incorporate constant feedback from diverse stakeholders
  • Need to focus on collaborative goal setting over top down command

Relevance of agile and OKRs for growing organizations

While it may not be apparent in the first look, agile and OKRs are quite complementary and combining the two can be a great step for growing organizations. Here’s why —

  • OKRs can help you understand the end goal and envision what success will look like. 
  • On the other hand, the agile methodology can enable you to create the right roadmap with frequent experimentation to reach the OKRs successfully. 

Here are a few reasons why you should combine agile and OKRs for your organization:

  • Set shorter goals for each quarter with the flexibility to look at the results in real time
  • Agile iterations based on learning which can be communicated across teams 
  • Shorter feedback cycles which prevent investment losses that might occur if the whole project/ goal has to be reworked
  • Continuous improvement with frequent retrospectives which can enable you to reflect on what is working well
  • Focus on collaborative goal setting and performance management with team autonomy
  • Agile approach to progress tracking

How to use agile techniques for OKRs

Now that it is clear why working agile and OKRs together makes sense for growing organizations, let’s quickly explore the top ways in which you can apply agile techniques to your OKR framework to make goal setting and performance management suitable for the VUCA world. 

Agile Value 1: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

  • Ensure collaborative OKR setting, assigning OKR champions and the right team members to execute the same
  • Facilitate clear understanding and communication of the intention and expectation behind each OKR and the responsibility for every team member

Agile Value 2: Working software over comprehensive documentation

  • Focus on clear outcomes and key results instead of comprehensive literature on why something is important
  • Facilitate shorter feedback cycles to gauge challenges early on and ensure feasibility of the OKRs
  • Reduce administrative overheads and complex processes related to OKR setting and progress tracking by using a simple, integrated OKR tool

Agile Value 3: Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

  • Ensure continuous development by taking real time feedback from internal customers i.e. stakeholders in the leadership

Agile Value 4: Responding to change over following a plan

  • Facilitate dynamic planning over a static plan with quarterly OKRs
  • Ensure adaptability to change, uncertainty and ambiguity
  • Promote short cadence to gauge achievability and relevance of key results early on

Best agile and OKR framework

In this last section of agile and OKR for better goal setting and performance management, we will uncover the top framework. 

We have combined the best components of different frameworks like waterfall goals, delivery agile, scaling, full stack agile, into a single framework with 5 major components that can help you enhance the complementary potential of agile and OKR 

This approach can help you leverage the benefits of agile methodologies and OKR framework to impact all aspects of organizational structure for achievement of goals, including the culture, strategy, initiatives, tactics, etc. The framework is premised on:

1. Create value based OKRs

  • Focus on creating value based OKRs instead of activity based
  • Activity based OKRs are effective for specific projects, but for organizational goals, the focus should be on value
  • Instead of focusing only on the outcomes, have a clear understanding about how each of the outcomes can create value for the organization
  • The activities for each OKR should be a part of the agile roadmap and not the end destination

If you are struggling with combining agile and OKRs for your organizations, chances are you are focusing on activity based key results which often resemble agile steps, leading to confusion and inability to meet goals. 

2. Facilitate horizontal alignment for shared OKRs

  • Encourage collaborative OKR setting with realistic timelines and short intervals
  • Make OKRs team/ department specific and acknowledge avenues for collaboration and alignment between teams on shared OKRs
  • Acknowledge OKR dependencies between teams and facilitate transparency and horizontal alignment
  • Avoid splitting OKRs for a shared goal between teams, rather create opportunities for working together

For instance, if you have an event coming up and wish to successfully execute the same, the objective will be common, with specific value based key results for each team.

Objective: Successfully execute the 7th edition of our annual event

Key Results

  • Get 1000+ unique registrations
  • Raise INR 20,00,000 in sponsorship
  • Curate 5 high impact panels
  • Get 10+ media and affiliate partners
  • Get 5000+ impressions on social media with organic promotion

If you look closely, while the objective is shared, key results are spread across sales, marketing, and even product/ services teams

3. Combine quality and quantity results

Your agile and OKR framework should enable you to get the best of both worlds when it comes to results. Agile results by nature are qualitative in nature and focus on the features that you wish to ascertain in a specific period of time. On the other hand, OKRs are driven by metrics. Thus, you can use a combination of the two for effective results:

  • Use OKRs to validate goals set using the agile methodology
  • Ensure each key result has a quantitative (data) and qualitative aspect (value)
  • Use a combination of agile and OKRs to ensure that your progress is positively impacting the organization

The combination can help you create an ideal balance between outputs and outcomes which are both critical when it comes to goal achievement and performance management. 

4. Promote use of data

  • Leverage data and evidence to create your agile based OKRs
  • Instead of creating OKR based on leadership opinion alone, validate the same with market study
  • Don’t rely completely on hypothetical representation, undertake primary and secondary research to ensure relevance and perceived achievability

Pro-tip:

Using data and not relying solely on opinions will help you set agile OKRs which don’t under or over estimate the goals. For instance, if the market data on traffic to a new website in your industry is 20,000 clicks in one week, your OKR can focus on reaching 25,000 to make it aspirational but achievable up to 80%. 

However, if you set the target at 50,000 or above, it will become too far fetched and the team might not even strive for it. On the flip side, if the target is only at 10,000, it will not encourage your employees to push the boundaries. Thus, you need to replace opinions and command OKRs with data backed experimentation.

5. Build self organizing teams

  • Provide you teams with a clear idea of what the larger vision looks like
  • Encourage them to set their own OKRs and help with a direction to achieve the same
  • Facilitate team autonomy and empower your team members with the right tools and resources like SuperBeings to not only set OKRs, but also track progress in real time and grade them at the end of the cycle. (Learn more)

Self organizing teams are important for growing organizations as they proactively take onus and ownership of achieving OKRs and lead to a greater degree of success. Step away from controlling detailed plans for each OKR and encourage the leadership to provide direction. 

Wrapping Up

To conclude, if you combine agile and OKR, you have for yourself a clear model for success which you can easily apply to goal setting and performance management. Having the right technology to support your rapidly changing businesses processes is a must for any organization looking to thrive in a VUCA world. With SuperBeings you can:

  • set, track and update goals/ OKRs whenever you need in just one click
  • update goal progress quickly and directly in the flow of work (via Slack, Teams, or other chat tools you already use)
  • have goal based 1:1s and performance check-ins to understand where your employees are stuck
  • align all internal stakeholders with the constantly changing needs of the organization easily
  • and much more

💡If interested, you can talk to one of our product experts to find out if SuperBeings can help you solve your specific challenges. We keep the call short at 15 minutes.

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