Jive’s People-Centric Performance Management Overhaul

By Melissa Suzuno
on Jan 4, 2018 1:00:00 PM


Performance management doesn’t have to be complicated. Ultimately, it’s about motivating and engaging the people who work at your company. But it can be easy to lose sight of this. Just ask the team at Jive. After going through significant growth and change as a company (including an IPO and acquisition), they found that the calendar of annual reviews and rigid approach to compensation were no longer the best fit for the company’s values of openness and transparency.

Keep reading to learn how Jive took a people-first approach to performance management.

Jive’s High-Performance Vision

Jive is a global software company building communication and collaboration solutions for businesses. The company was founded in 2001 and since has grown to over 600 employees and nearly $200 million in revenue. In 2011, Jive filed for its IPO and has since become part of the Aurea family of customer experience solutions.

Jive has undergone impressive growth, resulting in frequent change internally. Despite this, its company values have remained intact and driven the culture. Amy Dobler, Director of Employee Success and HR Business Partner, says that at Jive, employees are encouraged to be open, to be transparent, and to honor the spirit of innovation—a key driver of business success.

The key initiative was to transform the existing performance management process into a people-first program. To do this, Amy involved Jive employees and executives to design an ideal system. What they found was that making the process more simple would make the biggest impact.

Jive’s Challenge

When Amy and her team decided to take a closer look at the company’s performance management system, they realized it no longer held up to the company’s rapid pace of change or its cultural values of transparency and innovation. Jive was administering an annual, 360° review, which not only lacked reliable performance data, but also failed to drive employee engagement. Results of an employee survey showed a clear disconnect between the experience at Jive and an ideal performance review process. Words used to describe the existing process included “frustrating,” “ineffective,” “slow,” and “hassle.”

“Prior to using Zugata, we had a rigid, annual review process. We collected assessments from the employees, their peers, and managers. It proved difficult and stressful for people to recall and deliver reliable performance data over a year’s time. And in a dynamic culture like Jive’s, things tend to change, including your manager. The once-a-year model no longer fit,” explains Amy Dobler, Director of Employee Success and HR Business Partner at Jive.

Jive’s New Approach

Now, performance management at Jive drives employee performance forward through regular touch points with managers and continuous feedback from peers. This ensures that employees have a clear picture of their performance and contributions to strategic business goals quarter by quarter. In addition, employees are equipped with the data and resources to support their development.

Jive empowers employees and managers with ongoing and meaningful feedback and performance data, creating a high-performance culture. Here’s how they do it:

  • The HR team enables quarterly performance check-ins called 4x4s—comprised of four questions, four times per year—resulting in rich and personalized conversations with managers about performance and development
  • 4x4s also help surface and address obstacles before they become insurmountable and lead to turnover
  • Continuous feedback is templatized so that it is actionable and provides employees with a clear picture of where they can focus to improve their skills or behaviors
  • Evaluation questions are framed by a rater’s intentions to deliver more consistent and reliable results

The evolution of the performance management process at Jive resulted in a culture of coaching, feedback, and growth. In Zugata, employees and managers have a centralized location for 4x4s, feedback, and performance data. The use of Zugata reinforces the cultural value of transparency, allowing leaders and employees to share multi-directional and continuous feedback with one another.

To measure performance for compensation decisions, Jive decoupled compensation conversations from the quarterly manager check-ins. This made the significant shift away from merit-based increases, where performance was the single indicator of an increase, to a more holistic salary review program in which contributions and market data, relative to your peers, drive compensation decisions.

The Results

By building this culture of continuous development with rich manager check-ins and unbiased evaluations, Jive has seen a 5x increase in communication and a 75% increase in engagement. Getting executives involved in the overhaul of performance management also had a significant impact, boosting adoption by 20%.

Key Takeaways

Jive’s approach to performance management offers a few lessons to anyone looking to make changes to an existing program. First, it’s important to keep it simple. That’s the beauty of the 4x4 model—it’s clear and easy to follow. The more complicated your program, the less likely employees and managers are to adopt it.

Second, take time to think about what will drive employee engagement. At the end of the day, the goal of performance management is to motivate employees to perform to the best of their abilities and think about how they can continue to grow and develop.

Finally, consider ways to take a holistic approach to compensation. Rather than simply relying on managers’ evaluations of their employees, Jive considers market data, peer compensation, and other factors.

Want to learn how other companies are building high-performance cultures through performance management? Be sure to download a copy of our eBook,High-Performance Culture Spotlights.”

Topics: Performance Management

Author: Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno is a freelance copywriter who enjoys exploring the intersection of people and work.

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