Q&A: Sarmad Tiwana: “The majority of our workforce would experience performance management for the first time”

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 30 Nov 2016

Gulftainer’s head of HR on the importance of a well-defined strategy when radically changing your performance management systems

Sarmad TiwanaThe quality of an organisation’s output depends on the talent its employees – so implementing an effective performance management system that balances rigour and human factors is a crucial step in the battle for talent.
Gulftainer only recently developed a formalised system, which it linked to company targets and personal KPIs. People Management spoke to Sarmad Tiwana, head of HR, about the challenges and successes of transferring from an old-fashioned manual system to a new IT-automated one.
What initiatives did you put in place for your performance management system?
We designed a series of four training modules and mentoring workshops, keeping in mind that the majority of our workforce would experience performance management for the very first time. Our branding initiatives included banners, posters, newsletters, role play, presentations and talks, which were welcomed as they enabled employees to get a better understanding of what to expect while reviewing or being reviewed.
How did the workforce adapt to the new PMS?
Gulftainer has a diverse workforce and our initiatives were planned with a holistic approach, to allow sufficient time for employees across all levels in the hierarchy to feel comfortable with the new review system. The training programmes were conducted over two months. Even after the system went live, we continued our support channels in the form of ‘clinics’, where the support team was based at employee work areas to promptly address any questions or issues that arose. With carefully planned and executed support, our employees felt more comfortable embracing the transition to this more formalised review system.
Was there any initial resistance to the changes and if so, how did you overcome it?
Change is always difficult. However, we had a well-defined change strategy where we involved all staff. At the very initial stages of planning, we held focus group sessions with senior management to help understand their team’s expectations. Following that, we engaged a team of ‘brand ambassadors’ from within each department who supported us at various stages of the implementation process, including playing a lead role during our workshops. The primary focus was always on educating our staff. We also have ongoing support from the top management, and this has played a critical part in the project’s success. Even as we go along, continuous learning workshops and refresher sessions are conducted to support employee development by clarifying what is in store for each of us, as employees and line managers.
Has performance improved, and how do you measure it?
It is still early days as the system is less than a year old, however this is an interesting time for us as we will soon launch our first annual reviews to measure performance against individual goals and objectives.