New Approach to Performance Management

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New Approach to Performance Management

By Karla Shores, Learning Manager, Cigna 

Connect for Growth, is Cigna’s new approach to performance management, and is focused on energizing people, helping them grow and making connections all leading to better customer, company and employee outcomes.

The Connect for Growth program is aimed at improving productivity and motivation among employees as well as retaining them. It was originally conceived by a global team of line and HR leaders given business and workforce trends as well as employee engagement feedback.  Many employees were frustrated with the annual review process; the streamlined approach frees up time for managers and employees to discuss work goals and issues, instead of filling out forms. More frequent conversations allow managers to gain greater familiarity with the specific work of employees. Employees are more motivated when their performance is evaluated on an ongoing basis rather than receiving a “rating” tied to other employees.

These changes were in part made to address the concerns raised by Cigna employees responding to a survey conducted end of 2014. When asked to describe the review process, both employees and managers most often used the words– Frustrating, Unfair, Cumbersome, Time Consuming, Forced, and Inconsistent.  Asked what changes they would make to the performance model to make it more effective, employees said they wanted:

  • A simpler, easy to use process
  • An end to predetermination of ratings
  • More valuable and shorter review formats
  • Continuous feedback against goals with comments from peers
  • A goal setting review process directly related to their work

The program introduced a number of significant changes in the way performance reviews are conducted at Cigna. Formal letter or numeric ratings have been dropped. The overall performance indicator will be On Track /Off Track, with the expectation that the large majority will be On Track. “Check-ins” or conversations about employee performances can occur at any point during the year with the current recommendation being quarterly at minimum.  Check-ins will focus on goals, progress, and career growth, personalized for each employee. Quality discussions are more important than written documentation which will be kept to a minimum. Regular feedback from team members and colleagues other than a direct manager is encouraged. Pay for contribution will be the standard for rewards.


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