BT launches new approach to performance ratings for 2017/18

BT launches new approach to performance ratings for 2017/18

Prospect has been in discussion with BT about a new approach to performance management for some time – one that is more focussed on positive, regular conversations and less on process.

We are only too aware of how the practice of performance management has been a major issue for our members both as employees and managers for far too long. Throughout these discussions we have been focussed on trying to ensure a more positive approach that is consistently delivered in practice. The focus of performance management should be focussed on improving performance, not measuring it. All the evidence shows that is best achieved through regular, informal feedback.

BT have now launched some early headline comms about a new lighter touch approach based on 3 ratings – Brilliant, Good work and Work to do. The new 3 rating approach could signal real change if it is absolutely clear that the bottom rating is only used for individuals where there is genuine evidence of under performance against standards and this has already led to informal or formal action by their line manager under the procedure. There must also be no attempt to manipulate ratings in any way to fit a particular distribution. We will be discussing the underlying procedure documents and approaches to levelling/calibration in the coming weeks. It is our hope that we can agree a full suite of documents that underpin a new approach as part of those discussions.

Prospect wants to agree the whole approach and underlying set of documentation and procedures rather than individual elements. We will be working with BT over the coming period to do that. However, we are broadly supportive of the direction of travel as signalled by the announcement of the change to 3 ratings from 2017/18.

The associated FAQs are clear that the bottom rating should only be used where “underperformance has been recognised and you have been supported by your manager through the Improving Performance process”. It also says “Before giving this rating, managers will look at your overall contribution for the year and the improvements that you’ve made.” We want to ensure that if someone is on an informal plan during the course of a review period then this doesn’t become an automatic justification for the bottom rating. Those are issues which we expect to see further addressed in the supporting documentation.

Overall, we are only too aware that behaviours need to change so we will be monitoring the implementation of the new approach very closely.  It is thanks to the efforts of Prospect members and reps in flagging up issues/ abuse of process and pursuing this that we have been able to put change on the agenda.