Prospect BT Performance Management Survey results

Prospect BT Performance Management Survey results

Prospect did a quick survey on performance management in BT in March 2013 and received well over 4,000 responses from members and non-members. Many thanks to all who took part.

The results were striking and overwhelming:

  • 73% agreed that as practised performance management was damaging BT, just 12% disagreed.
  • 80% agreed that as practised PM is damaging employee wellbeing.
  • Just 12% agreed that PM was making a positive contribution to BT's performance, 70% disagreed.
  • 86% agreed that too much time was spent on the process. 17% agreed that time spent on PM will ultimately benefit customer service. 86% agreed that there is an expected distribution of ratings which leads people to being marked down for no good reason. 79% of line managers had been put under pressure to deliver an expected distribution and 47% had been told they would be marked down unless they differentiated across their team.
  • On average line managers are spending about 8 days per quarter on PM, rising to 22/23 days for those with the biggest teams.
  • 12% are confident of a fair hearing at a grievance, 64% aren't.
  • Once again we can see clear evidence of bias. People who were older, worked part-time, were disabled or black or minority ethnic got lower ratings.
  • Basics not got right: Whilst 59% knew their job standards, just 49% had objectives related directly to their role. Only a minority knew why they had got their current rating and just 38% knew how to improve their performance. These all tended to be worst where ratings were lowest.
  • News to you? Too often ratings come as a surprise and perceptions of the fairness of your individual rating varied considerably. It was no surprise that those rated highest, tended to perceive their own rating as fairer.

In sum, your views are that too much time is being spent on a process that is damaging employee wellbeing, trust, teamwork and BT. Ratings are seen as being effectively forced, a perspective shared by the line and we see continued evidence of bias. Whilst perceptions of unfairness are strong, there was very little faith in grievance, higher line management or HR to address abuse. This has to change – it's bad for you, your team and the business. With your support, we will keep pressing for that change.

Thousands of you also shared, in your own words, how demotivated the whole process made you feel, with line managers feeling especially conflicted.

We have shared the results with BT who are undertaking some diagnostic work around how performance management is practiced in BT. We have a commitment from BT that we will be fully involved in the development of a more positive approach. BT has appointed a new head of Performance Management, Claire Shenton, and we are setting up a series of meetings on this issue bringing together a cross functional team including Equality and Health and Safety leads under a broad 'good work' theme.

Some LOBs came out better than others – Retail did well in comparison to TSO, Openreach and Wholesale but there are pockets of good and bad practice across the organisation. You can help push for a more positive approach within your team. A good workplace culture based on trust and fairness is good for you, the team and your employer.

Guidance for members – we have produced a short guide for members to help you safeguard your best interests.

Conference calls – we are running a series of calls for members on the results and next steps – if you would like to get a call organised in your bit of the business or area, let us know here. The full survey results are available here.