Since its release in 2017, SAP® SuccessFactors® Continuous Performance Management (CPM) has been enabled by over 1,000 customers in production. That’s rapid adoption, so we reached out to SAP SuccessFactors to find out what is drawing customers to the product and how it is being used within organizations as a performance management tool.
“There has been a shift in performance management over the last 10 to 15 years, where employees are not finding a ton of value in the traditional performance management approach,” says Susie Thomas, Director of Solution Marketing at SAP SuccessFactors. “That consists of a huge event at the end of the year. If we had the tech we have today, there’s no way we would have established performance management that way.”
Creating a Culture of Feedback
What’s lacking in those year-end reviews is an ongoing approach to dialogue between manager and employee. That’s what has attracted customers to CPM—it provides a user-friendly, mobile platform for conversations that are tied back to a person’s goals in the SAP SuccessFactors Performance Management and Goals module.
The goal is not just to create a certain number of extra engagements between employees and managers, but to establish a culture of feedback. Workers crave feedback, says Thomas, but at the same time they aren’t typically comfortable with receiving it. To that end, SAP SuccessFactors provides resources on how to best give feedback, and is looking to expand in that area based on customer input.
How Customers are Using CPM
SAP SuccessFactors recently reached out to its CPM customers about their use of the product and published the results of those conversations in the whitepaper “Making the Shift to Continuous Performance Management.”
CPM customers are seeing many improvements to the performance management process, including better relationships between managers and employees. A manufacturing organization with 10,000 to 50,000 employees noted that following deployment of CPM, 75% of employees agreed their leaders create an environment where it is okay to have difficult conversations.
There’s also been a deeper understanding of employee performance and potential. Another manufacturer with 5,000 to 10,000 employees said CPM gives its managers more background into what employees are doing.
Another customer of similar employee count, this one in the pharmaceutical space, observed that there has been greater differentiation in workforce evaluations, due to managers having a greater flexibility in how they approach evaluations. That means the organization is likely better able to identify what how each individual employee is contributing.
For employees at another manufacturing company, employees have better awareness as to what they are doing well and what they aren’t doing well. The use of CPM creates greater transparency, so there isn’t a surprise in the annual review. In fact, an agricultural customer with 10,000 to 50,000 employees noted that because of continuous conversations throughout the year, the annual review has become a “non-event.”
At our own legacy /N SPRO HCM brand, we have used CPM to provide a structure to informal evaluations. This allowed HR to track these meetings, and also limits those evaluation surprises at the end of the year.
How CPM Customers Can Encourage Adoption
Enabling CPM in your SAP SuccessFactors system is one thing, but company-wide adoption from employees is necessary for maximum benefit. Thomas notes that the successful organizations communicate the important of the change in performance management from the top down. Leadership needs to buy in, and managers need to support the continuous feedback behavior.
Organizations should also help managers understand the type of conversations they should be having with employees. Some have created standards of how often those talks are happening, others are more flexible.
Some customers have made sure to go beyond the roll out of the product with a change management plan during and post go-live. The goal is to keep CPM at the top of mind for employees through regular communication—one customer used weekly newsletters. A performance improvement/knowledge services organization with 5,000 to 10,000 employees commented that they are talking about CPM as a program, rather than a new system.
Continuous Improvement for CPM
CPM is still a relatively young product, and SAP SuccessFactors is added functionality on a quarterly basis. On the roadmap for next quarter is the ability for employees to give visibility to feedback beyond managers, including those with which they have established mentoring relationships.
The user experience is key to CPM, and SAP SuccessFactors will continue to enhance that aspect of the product. Beyond that, next steps include connecting CPM to the talent processes in development and learning.
For now, the early adopters of CPM have found success in building a culture of continuous feedback, and in the process are changing the way employee reviews are conducted.