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BT Performance Management: Developments

25 February 2015

The Personnel Team have been meeting with BT on a monthly basis to seek further improvements in the operation of Performance Management in BT. There have been some significant new developments confirmed by a letter from Deb Lee, Chief Learning Officer.

Movement to Bi-Annual Rating

BT has now agreed to move to bi-annual formal rating as opposed to quarterly rating from the next financial year. From April 2015 formal rating will take place in Q2 and Q4. From the beginning the Team has argued that the relentless regime of performance management every three months was unnecessary and counter-productive in producing improved performance.

A New Approach to Performance

BT has agreed to a new approach to Performance Management. This new ‘light touch’ approach is being piloted in TSO during this quarter (Q3) with a view to being rolled out to other LOBs subsequently. This ‘new approach’ called Continuous Development involves a discussion about how our members can make a real difference to customers and less time writing up performance evidence on the system. The idea is that positive discussions should culminate in maybe three agreed action points covering improvement and most importantly development.

Throughout our discussions with the Company the Team has emphasised the need for our members to see visible tangible change if their perception of Performance Management in BT is to change. This change has the potential to do just that, but we have warned the Company that in the final analysis it will be the experience of our members that will determine whether the endeavour has been successful or not.

Training

The scale of investment in change is undeniable. Almost 8500 managers have been re-trained from the Chief Executive down to Level 1 managers. Union Officers, Executive and Activists have participated in that training and can testify to its content. It is our hope that with the most recent developments the fruits of that investment will be seen by our members.

Escalations

The National Team continue to monitor escalations within LOBs and to Group and the September 2013 Agreement continues to appear to be working. Where we have been able to demonstrate breach of process or perverse use of the procedures we have been successful in having them addressed to the satisfaction of the Union. The major problem has been the perception of the members that their experience of Performance Management has not improved. It is to be hoped that these recent positive developments will be visible and tangible and help to repair the damage done over so many years of poor practice.

Data and CARE

The Company has always provided detailed data in absolute confidence to the Executive. Much of this data has shown general improvement but because of the confidentiality requirements the Executive have not been able to share this information more widely. The Team has argued that these restrictions have become obstacles to changing perception amongst our members. Improvements remain invisible to the mass of our members. BT has now agreed to allow some data to be provided to branches on the proviso it remains within the Company. The team hopes to persuade the Company to share more information, even more widely on this basis. The Union has been invited to participate in devising a section of CAREAgile hot topics and we will be working with Prospect on some words.

Nita Clarke Report

The Team has actively used the conclusions of the Nita Clarke Independent Review to reinforce many of the arguments that we have been making to the Company. These recent developments have the potential to be something of a breakthrough. The Escalation Agreement of September 2013 has successfully rooted out the bad practice that preceded it. The major task since then has been to make the changes visible and tangible to our members. It will be the experience of our members and their perception of Performance Management in BT that will determine whether a breakthrough has been achieved.