Aims of the strategy

To develop, agree and implement a performance management framework (and supporting tool) to be used across Dorset Council. The tool, an online platform or a paper/word version for our mobile workers, will be to enable better, more meaningful conversations around objectives and allows the employee to think about their own development. 

The aims were to bring consistency to teams across the organisation and enable employees to feel supported to grow and develop at work. The underpinning principles for the new framework are:

  • employee led
  • strengths based
  • future focused
  • regular and meaningful conversations
  • quality not quantity
  • supporting wellbeing 

The intended outcome will be that employees will all be recording their development in the same way across the organisation. The new performance development framework will have a heavier focus on the value of conversations. Previously, former councils compiled data on ‘completion rates’, but failed to properly understand the value those conversations had – a 100% compliance rate, could be 100% of poor performance development conversations. The framework is designed to upskill managers and provide a simple approach to holding good conversations.  

The new framework comes with an in-house built tool to support employees; an easy-to-access system that records objectives, achievements, behaviours, learning and education needs, and allows them to seek feedback from others empowers them to take ownership of their own development. Their development will have a positive impact on their wellbeing, as well as positively contributing to their own, their team’s and the organisation’s performance. 

Background to the proposal

As we came together as Dorset Council, an interim appraisal process was developed to contain the ‘best of all’ approach to performance development conversations over the sovereign authorities. It was always anticipated that a new performance development approach would be developed for the new organisation and this is where the current process has stemmed from. 

A working group was formed to look at the approach adopted by the former organisations, the interim approach, research other examples of performance development processes and to propose and agree a new way forward to help us work together as one organisation. The first meeting was held on 21 August 2019, where the group reviewed the systems previously used and identified what worked well. 

Further research was then carried out by the project group to identify best practices for performance development, stakeholder events we held to gather feedback (details below) and they sought to properly understand what the organisations aspirations were for performance development. 

The performance development framework project follows an Agile Project Management methodology. Agile project management means that feedback is regularly sought to develop a piece of work on an iterative basis. In this context, the framework was developed, engagement sought on the proposal and changes implemented.

The online platform was developed to support the tool and was launched as a ‘minimum viable product’ (MVP). With an MVP, it is not a perfect representation of a final system, more a developmental product, aimed to be further developed and improved upon based on feedback rather than assumption of the project team. As such, there will continue to be system issues, process nuances and changes that need to be made, but this ensures that a framework/tool can be developed in collaboration with the workforce, rather than in isolation. 

Intelligence and Communication 

Data, information, evidence and research used and how it has influenced the decision-making process

  • demographic information extracted from Dorset Council’s HR & Payroll system. This was used to get a further understanding of the demographic of our employees.
  • engagement information sought through various exercises, as mentioned in part 3 below.
  • though this EqIA is being completed in the summer of 2020, the data collection exercise was undertaken when the first version of the EqIA was created. As such, on the face of it, the dates may not align, but they were relevant and considered at the outset of the project. 

Demographic information

  • the data contained within this EqIA for internal analysis relates to non-school’s employees, as the system does not encompass those working in schools. The data below was collected at two different times. The data for age, disability, ethnicity and gender were all collected as at 31 October 2019. The data for sexual orientation and religion/belief was as part of an EqIA completed in August 2019. It relates to all employees of Dorset Council, held on the HR Payroll systems: SAP and ResourceLink. Please see the EqIA. 

Data as at 31 May 2019:

A proposal was developed in-house, developing a new framework and using the HR & Payroll system, DES, to hold a system to support the framework. Following the feedback received as part of the stakeholder engagement detailed above, user experience testing and feedback was sought on the developed platform. 

A business representative group continued to be utilised to seek developments on the project, as well as regular engagement of managers of mobile workers to ensure those without IT access were offered the same opportunity to have conversations around their personal development.

Engagement or consultation that has taken place as part of this EqIA

Engagement undertaken

We held a number of different engagement exercises to get a wide range of feedback and insight into how a performance development framework may impact on our people. The development of a new performance development framework only required engagement – no formal consultation was required or undertaken. It is changing the way in which we hold conversations, how we build positive line management relationships and so forms a bigger part of the cultural change work stimulated by our new People Strategy. As such, our engagement exercises included:

  • survey to employee forum between 25/10/2019 – 29/11/2019. We issued a survey to all 330+ members of the employee forum, seeking feedback on how regular they had 1-1s with their manager, how valuable those sessions were, whether they felt supported by their managers or encouraged to think about career progression, the most important and most valuable parts of a performance development conversation were to them, and whether they felt there should be some kind of performance development process. We received 154 responses to that survey. 
  • manager workshops were held to understand their expectations and desires from a new performance development framework. They worked collaboratively to discuss the process, whether the corporate behaviours held a place in the framework, how objectives could be approached and whether there would be an incentive for inclusion of reward and recognition. 62 managers from varying roles across the organisation, covering different disciplines attended these sessions. These were held on 23 October 2019, 5, 11, 12 and 19  November 2019
  • a business representative group was set up of 5-10 managers to engage with a group of representatives from across the organisation. This group was utilised through the framework and system development, offering feedback and insight into planned changes and potential impact (positive or negative) in the workforce.
  • a specific group of managers of mobile workers was also created, with an aim to seek feedback on how to make the framework more accessible for those in the organisation without access to a Dorset Council email/network account. This group has been instrumental in making the framework accessible, flexible and adaptable to teams whose work means they are not frequent IT users, to ensure they have the same opportunity to have performance development conversations as our ‘online’ workers (those with IT access).
  • Senior Leadership Team engagement was essential as we looked to move away from the performance development processes the organisation were familiar with (meetings every 6 months). We needed the Senior Leadership Team to be on board with a new way of holding these conversations and reviewing performance, so insight into how they saw these conversations taking place was crucial.
  • we engaged with the Deputy Leader to understand the councillor expectations of performance development, particularly when it came to councillor involvement in objective setting and feedback.
  • digital engagement was key as the platform was developed alongside the framework. User testing was undertaking with stakeholders and members of the project team on 3 and 7 February 2020.
  • drop in sessions were held for user testing between 18 and 27 February 2020.
  • unions were presented to on 21 January 2020 and 24 June 2020 (prior to launch of the new framework and system).
  • a focus group was also met with on 30 January 2020, comprising of the various Diversity and Inclusion groups, to gauge insight from across the organisation as to what we would need to consider when creating a new performance development framework, as well as what would need to be considered in the development of the project. This worked as a ‘testing and focus group’ for employees of people with disabilities using their specialist equipment, ensuring the new platform that was developed was accessible. 

Engagement findings

  • Employee Forum survey findings:
    • 121 respondents (out of 154) have had appraisals in the last year
    • 112 respondents reported having regular 1-1s
    • 106 respondents felt their 1-1s were either ‘somewhat valuable’, ‘quite valuable’ or ‘extremely valuable’
    • 129 respondents said they feel performance development conversations should support/encourage career progression
    • 132 respondents felt there needs to be some form of performance development framework. 
  • Manager workshop feedback included:
    • the process needs to provide the individual with an opportunity to reflect on their work, performance and behaviour. Objectives help align direction and linking to the behaviours is preferred. A process works when it is about the individual and shouldn’t feel like a tick-box exercise. This has been felt before when too much paperwork in a ‘one size fits all’ approach makes the process laborious and time consuming.
    • the behaviours should enable managers to recognise good and bad behaviour. They wanted to see this linked into 360 feedback (where feedback can be sought and given from outside of normal line management structures, to allow contributions for project working and matrix management), but more training was needed to embed the behaviours.
    • to properly discuss the behaviours, and other elements of a performance development framework, there would need to be more regularity in conversations, not just annual or twice-a-year meetings.
    • in terms of objectives, corporate aims and objectives sometimes feel too broad to be relatable, again reflecting that one size doesn’t fit all. They sought agreement as manager and employee on objectives, that needed more flexibility to fit different service needs and changing priorities, but remaining service specific and relevant to the individual.

Managers felt that there should be no ‘reward’ element to performance development conversations, so would not want to see a ‘rating’ for performance and detachment from competency progression (though this sits out of scope of this project). The ‘reward’ that is felt to have the biggest impact is ‘being thanked’. 

Feedback

Though no formal consultation was required, all of the feedback was reviewed by the project team and used to develop the new framework and accompanying IT platform and paper form. 

Throughout the launch of the new framework, we have been clear about what feedback has been used to inform decision making and development, share thematic analysis of feedback received and how it has influenced the project development. 

Following all of the engagement and feedback sessions, a communications strategy was developed to sit alongside the project brief and plan. The communications strategy included:

  • email responses
  • workshop engagement and outcomes
  • intranet communication
  • communications via screens in office spaces and posters for mobile workers
  • need to Know (internal newsletter) articles and messaging
  • manager training plan
  • roadshow for drop-ins for employees
  • payslip communication (to again target mobile workers without IT access) 

Assessment

Impacts of the strategy 

impacts table
Impacts on who or what? Effect Details

Age

Positive

If the performance development framework is implemented properly it will help embed a culture that builds engaged, efficient relationships with managers and employees, protecting all employees from discrimination.

The framework will be applied equally to all employees regardless of their age. An employee's age should/will not limit them. It will also help to:

  • have healthy conversations about performance and behaviours
  • encourage respect / positive influence
  • value difference in people, we will encourage this by providing training for managers, developing their awareness of unconscious bias and the principles of strength-based development
  • have a positive protection for employees, a measurement for employees when they are not being treated fairly and will provide guidance for managers how employees should be treated. 

The framework also encourages conversations around career aspirations and any education and learning needs that the employee would like to discuss; by holding conversations around these areas and the employee submitting content for discussion, this avoids any unconscious bias from managers that age has any impact on an individuals career goals or development needs.

Disability:

(including physical, mental, sensory and progressive conditions)

Positive

For those with neuro or hidden disabilities, the new performance development framework becomes much less focused on the content of written and submitted documentation and evidence provided, but more emphasis is given to holding positive and meaningful conversations. This would have a positive impact on any disabilities where rigid completion of forms or systems to evidence work is required. As part of the framework launch, there is a manager training programme, ‘Navigating My ROAD map’, where managers will be trained in the framework and online platform, but more focus given to holding good conversations, giving and receiving feedback and developing their coaching skills. By holding conversations in a coaching and more developmental space, it is hoped that those with hidden or neuro disabilities may feel more supported, encouraged and comforted to make their manager further aware of any disabilities they may have, such as a mental health issue.

If the performance development framework is implemented properly it will help embed a culture that builds engaged, efficient relationships with managers and employees, protecting all employees from discrimination. 

The process will be continually reviewed, with dates to be set for reviews going forward. We will continue to consider how it could affect employees with neuro concerns / hidden disabilities in any other way. Further items to consider are:

  • reasonable adjustments
  • a more flexible structure may be difficult for some employees

How line managers have regular conversations with teams/individuals on health and wellbeing, so to address any changes in an employee's health and/or situation and provide support and signposting – this is not currently a part of the framework training, but could be part of manager development out of scope of this project.

Gender Reassignment and Gender Identity

Neutral

If the performance development framework is implemented properly it will help embed a culture that builds engaged, efficient relationships with managers and employees, protecting all employees from discrimination. 

It will help Dorset Council to:

  • have healthy conversations about performance and behaviours
  • consider the use of gender-neutral language – forming part of the work to ensure this is used throughout the council, also encouraging the use of pronouns i.e. they/their rather than him/her. This will link with the People Strategy. 
  • have behaviours that encourage respect / positive influence
  • help with awareness raising 

As mentioned, this supports the work of the People Strategy, of which part is an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy and Action Plan. The platform being used sits within our HR & Payroll system DES. We are working to develop the personal identification fields within the system as part of our EDI work, but until then anyone who wishes to update their details may not be able to select the correct identifying fields for their characteristics around gender identities. Once the system development is completed, we will be encouraging employees to update their personal details. Though the performance development tool sits within DES, it does sit separately to this information, so there is no expectation the inaccuracies of the personal information fields would cause a negative impact, signposting a platform through DES could generate more interest in what other information the system offers too.

Pregnancy and maternity

Positive

If the performance development framework is implemented properly it will help embed a culture that builds engaged, efficient relationships with managers and employees, protecting all employees from discrimination. 

The process will encourage managers to have conversations with employees returning from long term absence to consider career goals and any training requirements they may have following their absence. 

Dorset Council will need to ensure employees returning from maternity leave (and as part of good practice shared parental and adoption leave) are aware of the new performance development process. By implementing a framework that encourages more regular conversations as well, it will ensure that the communication between a manager and a returning employee is more frequent and structured, allowing for a smooth transition back into the workplace.

Race and Ethnicity

Positive

If the performance development framework is implemented properly it will help embed a culture that builds engaged, efficient relationships with managers and employees, protecting all employees from discrimination. 

As the behaviours form part of the performance development process, it should:

  • encourage behaviours that have a positive impact
  • bring awareness to and raise value of differences
  • ensure work is an environment devoid of unconscious bias
  • value difference in people, raise awareness via:
    • manager guidance
    • manager awareness of unconscious bias 
    • enable respectful dialogues between people 

Religion or belief:

Positive

If the performance development framework is implemented properly it will help embed a culture that builds engaged, efficient relationships with managers and employees, protecting all employees from discrimination. 

The premise of the new framework is to encourage more regular and meaningful conversations, rather than meetings every 6 months. As such, the aim is to improve working relationships between managers and their employee’s and the framework will be applied equally to all employees regardless of their religion & belief. As part of building positive relationships, we hope to achieve the following:

  • encouraging understanding of beliefs and religious events (e.g. Ramadan / Lent)
  • understanding of smarter working and how this can help employees during events and with their overall work/life balance

Help create behaviours that have a positive impact.

Sexual orientation

Neutral

If the performance development system is implemented properly it will help embed a culture that builds engaged, efficient relationships with managers and employees, protecting all employees from discrimination. 

The performance development system will be applied equally to all employees regardless of their sexual orientation. However, we need to consider the following:

  • Senior Leadership Team need to be part of representing / sponsoring
  • part of being employer of choice
  • unconscious bias work that is needed, which will be part of the manager training
  • this is part of the culture change programme initiated by the People Strategy 

The performance development system has been designed to be as inclusive as possible and doesn’t reference cultural norms. 

As mentioned, this supports the work of the People Strategy, of which part is an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy and Action Plan. The platform being used sits within our HR & Payroll system DES. We are working to develop the personal identification fields within the system as part of our EDI work, but until then anyone who wishes to update their details may not be able to select the correct identifying fields for their characteristics around sexual orientation. Once the system development is completed, we will be encouraging employees to update their personal details. Though the performance development tool sits within DES, it does sit separately to this information, so there is no expectation the inaccuracies of the personal information fields would cause a negative impact, signposting a platform through DES could generate more interest in what other information the system offers too.

Sex (consider both men and women)

Positive

If the performance development framework is implemented properly it will help embed a culture that builds engaged, efficient relationships with managers and employees, protecting all employees from discrimination. 

The performance development framework will be applied equally to all employees regardless of their sex. We have considered:

  • sexism – the framework links through and encourages conversations around our corporate behaviours, one being respect.
  • menopause - our employee demographics indicate a high proportion of employees are female and some are potentially in the age bracket for experiencing the menopause. The framework acknowledges the need for conversations around wellbeing and my moving to more regular communication between an employee and a manager, the aim is to improve working relationships and enable employees to feel more confident and comfortable talking about issues that may impact on work delivery.
  • regular conversations will ensure employees have the appropriate clothing – PPE, right clothes for the individual person, not making them wear clothing not designed for them.
  • changes in behaviour may be a result of issues such as domestic abuse, the behaviour framework needs to link with HR policies around domestic abuse. Again, regular communication aims to improve working relationships so that individuals feel enabled, comfortable and confident raising these personal concerns through conversations with their manager, being signposted to seek support in the best way.

Marriage or civil partnership:

Positive

If the performance development framework is implemented properly it will help embed a culture that builds engaged, efficient relationships with managers and employees, protecting all employees from discrimination. 

The performance development system will be applied equally to all employees regardless of their marriage and civil partnership. It will also:

  • encourage positive working relationships and conversations
  • help with understanding and celebrating the diversity of relationships

Carers

Positive

If the performance development framework is implemented properly it will help embed a culture that builds engaged, efficient relationships with managers and employees, protecting all employees from discrimination. 

By encouraging more regular communication, the framework fosters an environment for building more positive working relationship, aiming to build confidence in managers and an environment where employees can disclose issues that may require them to work more flexibly. The training covers the impact of cancelling/postponing 1-1s and the impact this has on the individual, emphasising the importance of rescheduling whilst also highlighting we are working in a flexible space, so we need to adapt accordingly. This should be a positive impact for people whose working hours/days may need to change to accommodate caring responsibilities. 

The performance development framework should help to provide employees with the support and understanding they may need from managers and colleagues, when employees have responsibilities outside of work. As we work towards creating a culture with the behaviour framework, this will link to smarter working, which could also help with working flexibly and having support in place. We will need to ensure:

  • Our policies reflect this, making the right information available:
    • signposting on intranet
    • add external support information
    • the behaviours will help with the flexibility needed
    • behaviours will help to raise manager awareness
    • change of behaviour
    • can happen at any time.

Rural isolation

Positive

If the performance development framework is implemented properly it will help embed a culture that builds engaged, efficient relationships with managers and employees, protecting all employees from discrimination. 

Work is needed to define how rural isolation can impact on work at Dorset Council but the framework could help by:

  • helping to raise awareness around lack of access to internet /  ICT
  • providing technology to support working remotely
  • identify needs for improving digital skills
  • help create a culture of understanding, that will help with understanding of weather implications and transport issues
  • the behaviours will link with improving communication throughout the council and more support in relation to contact, ensure all employees are treated the fairly. 

Furthermore, the framework sets out responsibilities of the manager, to hold 1-1s regularly (suggested every 4-6 weeks). For those employees who may be impacted by rural isolation, their engagement with their manager may have been less frequent, particularly if they only really followed the 6 monthly meetings set out in previous appraisal approaches, so moving to regular conversations and by utilising our digital platforms such as Skype for Business and MS Teams, there should be a positive impact on concerns surrounding rural isolation. We do need to be mindful of those with limited internet connectivity if holding meetings from rural homes, but managers are responsible for ensuring meetings take place.

Single parent families:

Positive

If the framework is implemented properly it will help embed a culture that builds engaged, efficient relationships with managers and employees, protecting all employees from discrimination. 

The culture created should help to respectfully recognise employees in this group and ensuring:

  • Dorset Council is family friendly – link to and include carers
  • all managers have an awareness of unconscious bias and it’s impact in the workplace 

By encouraging more regular communication, the framework fosters an environment for building more positive working relationship, aiming to build confidence in managers and an environment where employees can disclose issues that may require them to work more flexibly. The training covers the impact of cancelling/postponing 1-1s and the impact this has on the individual, emphasising the importance of rescheduling whilst also highlighting we are working in a flexible space, so we need to adapt accordingly. This should be a positive impact for people whose working hours/days may need to change to accommodate childcare responsibilities.

Social and  economic deprivation

Neutral

If the performance development framework is implemented properly it will help embed a culture that builds engaged, efficient relationships with managers and employees, protecting all employees from discrimination. 

Work is needed to define this area, but by building positive working relationships the framework could help by managers ensuring:

  • they have awareness of what is happening in their employee’s lives that may impact on their work
  • they can signpost employees to the right resources 

Though the system that has been developed to support the framework is through the HR & Payroll system, DES, a paper/word version is available for any employee who does not have access to the network. This ensures that any employee who is one of our mobile workers (without access to an IT account) isn’t expected to use their own internet/broadband or device, but can still engage in regular, meaningful conversations around their personal development.

Armed Forces communities

Positive

If the performance development framework is implemented properly it will help embed a culture that builds engaged, efficient relationships with managers and employees, protecting all employees from discrimination. 

The framework encourages more regular and meaningful conversations in an effort so build more positive working relationships. In doing this and by building trust and confidence in the employee/manager relationship, the process could help identify any needs of the individual, allowing signposting to any support around the armed forces covenant programme such as:

  • Disability
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder / mental heath
  • loan families
  • leave arrangements 

Action: about understanding our workforce who may be veterans and partners of military personnel.

Key to impacts 

key table
Positive 

the proposal eliminates discrimination, advances equality of opportunity and/or fosters good relations with protected groups.

Negative

Protected characteristic group(s) could be disadvantaged or discriminated against.

Neutral

No change/ no assessed significant impact of protected characteristic groups.

Unclear 

Not enough data/evidence has been collected to make an informed decision.

Action Plan

action plan table
Issue Action to be taken Person(s) responsible Date to be completed by

Monitor and review of the performance development process

Built into the programme is a review using:

  1. employee forums
  2. managers
  3. employee surveys
  4. employee engagement platform

OD

July 2021

Lack of awareness of neuro/hidden disabilities

This will be covered by a larger piece of work on neuro/hidden disabilities. 

  1. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy and work plan
  2. raising awareness of neuro disabilities/hidden disabilities
  3. general training/awareness raising-
  4. training trainers (especially internal trainers) re: awareness of hidden disabilities when delivering training,
  5. manager toolkit – information for managers
  6. Disability Confident
  7. Employee Forum
  8. unconscious bias training - generally 

Equality & Diversity intranet page to include neuro disabilities

OD, Diversity Inclusion Officer, EDI sponsor

July 2021

Keeping employees updated when returning to work

A communications piece (news article) for all managers reminding them to ensure anyone returning to work from maternity, and for other long-term absences, that have been off since 01 April 2019 are made aware of the performance development system, as part of their return to work.

Managers

On return

ICT systems needed to support the work being carried out

Link into the systems (ICT)

OD, IT

Throughout project development

Who agreed this EqIA?

agreement table
Role Name Date
Officer completing this EqIA

David Patrick

18 August 2020

Equality Lead

Susan Ward-Rice

28 October 2020

Equality and Diversity Action Group Chair

Dr David Bonner

28 October 2020

 

Diversity and Inclusion Officer - Dorset Council

Name: Susan Ward-Rice
Email: susan.ward-rice@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk
Tel: 01305 224368
Full contact details

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