Review performance management approach and drive high performance


Ran ‘real play’ manager workshops, gave coaching and guidance to leaders, widespread approval from managers and teams around appraisals


Improving performance management

In light of recent change in their industry, which gives customers greater freedom of choice over their water supplier, South East Water identified the need to make a customer-focused approach an even more integral part of their business strategy. Against this backdrop, South East Water wanted to look at performance management at an organisational level as well as supporting their leaders and managers to do this too. From their employee survey results they concluded that they needed to: 1) Improve management capability to have more effective conversations around performance management and career development. 2) Recognise good performance and manage poor performance. 3) Embed core values-based behaviour.


Establishing a feedback culture

ETS has since worked with South East Water to:

  • Identify what high performance looks like for them
  • Develop a set of behaviours that underpin high performance
  • Design a performance management process
  • Support managers to have impactful conversations in this area
  • Establish a feedback culture.

We did this through providing:

  • Short manager workshops using ‘real play’ scenarios with actors whereby managers receive instant feedback on their approach and style
  • Coaching with heads of departments to support them in embedding the process and culture
  • Objective-setting cascade sessions from director down to manager level to ensure alignment of all objectives
  • Workshops that connect managers with the ‘why’ so they’re better placed to inspire and engage their teams rather than seeing objective-setting as a tick box exercise.

An impactful performance programme

The programme has had a great impact on both managers and the organisation as a whole with key successes including: 1) Managers having increased confidence with having more complex conversations. 2) Being able to track values-based behaviour. 3) Having a structure for objective-setting and giving feedback. 4) Employees having a greater appetite for on-going learning. Naturally the programme is an on-going process, and South East Water is continuing to add to and refine various parts of it. Having said that, they’re very pleased with the progress being made. Katie Cox, Talent and Organisational Development Specialist at South East Water, explains: “The feedback from leaders and managers taking part in sessions has been really positive and, by acting on their feedback, we’re able to continually hone the programme and keep it moving forward in line with business needs.” Furthermore, South East Water’s latest engagement survey showed a very positive picture, which they hope to improve upon again this year. And, where performance appraisal completion used to be around the 37% mark, it is now at 90% with the new system. This demonstrates the markedly improved employee confidence in the programme. Katie Cox comments on how they find the experience of partnering with ETS: “We have formed a great and collaborative relationship with the team at ETS, which is based on mutual trust and understanding. They are always enthusiastic and knowledgeable and we continue to value their support.”


Business Impact

Managers having increased confidence with having more complex conversations
Being able to track values-based behaviour and having a structure for objective-setting and giving feedback
Employees having a greater appetite for on-going learning