Case study: Developing staff – and the business – at The Interiors Group, with Dinamiks, an online approach to employee performance management

The Interiors Group provides high quality office interior fit out and refurbishment solutions.  The firm works closely with architects, interior designers, property agents and other parties to achieve the desired result.

Key point and main goal:  the group takes full responsibility for every project in order to deliver the best possible working environment.

The Interiors Group is based in the UK and has recently launched its United Arab Emirates operation, in Abu Dhabi.

A completed project

The driver for change

The Interiors Group sees staff as an asset and, in the words of the group’s Financial Director Mark Pilkington, “it is important that they are given the tools to work effectively, in order for the group to deliver the best possible service.”

For many years those tools comprised a paper based employee performance  appraisal system. “Paper has its limitations and so one thing the board has been keen to do is to implement more automated systems,” says Pilkington. “We believe the objective setting/review/appraisal process is an important one, both from the company and the employee point of view.

“Automation was seen as the way forward because it provides speed as well as flexibility within a framework, and a foundation upon which additional tools – such as competencies and brand values – could be added by the supplier.”

Pilkington adds that The Interiors Group has always measured competencies and was looking for a competency measurement and analysis tool to be added to the automated employee performance management system that was selected.

The group selected the new, web-based Dinamiks – developed by Chichester-based Dinamiks Ltd – as its system of choice in early 2010.

“We chose Dinamiks because it met all our criteria – a web-based system that automated much of the review/appraisal process,” says Pilkington.  “We also wanted (i) something that would be easy to learn and use and (ii) a system through which employees could see and monitor their progress.”

“Dinamiks doesn’t just focus on the ‘what are you going to get done during your employment with us,’ but also gives staff the chance to highlight areas for personal development and training, which is important to us as a company.”

“As a business, we are growing very rapidly and it is important that staff, including line managers, are not swallowed up by paper and procedures.  Automation would move us away from those issues.”

Gaining buy-in to the new approach

New initiatives in any type of organisation can meet with acceptance or opposition, or a mix of the two. At The Interiors Group, buy-in to the use of Dinamiks was helped by two factors, as Pilkington explains. “All members of staff could see that everyone else was involved – yes, even the CEO.  That sort of transparent view of involvement from the top down really facilitates buy-in. Secondly, being web-based helped to overcome any lingering fears or reluctance. We are all familiar with the web, going online and logging in where we have to.  With Dinamiks being just a part of that experience, buy-in was greatly simplified.”

There was an added and significant advantage to the web-based approach – “it wouldn’t tie up our own servers and IT department’s time.  No installation or desktop rollout, or hardware or software clashes, were involved,” Pilkington points out.

The group began using Dinamiks in February 2010, with the aim of having all objectives for the new financial year in place by the end of March 2010. “This was achieved, I’m pleased to say. We envisage using the system on an ongoing basis. Why? Because, it will enable us to build up a history for each employee and monitor progress year on year. Also, it seems to work for all concerned.”

First-hand view of progress

At The Interiors Group, Mark Pilkington is responsible for HR issues and it was in that capacity – and that of board director, as FD – that he assumed the role of overseeing the introduction and ongoing use of Dinamiks.  He therefore has a first-hand view of how staff and the CEO took to it.

“There will always be some resistance to change in any organisation. It seems to be human nature.  We carefully managed the implementation process in order to gradually introduce the system and its benefits. We started by telling staff what we were planning and why. Then, once the initial data had been uploaded, I started with the CEO and then worked my way round the line managers. They were shown how to use the system and how it relates to the company as a whole.”

“Training took very little time, which is both a compliment to the system’s designers and to our people, who ‘bought in’ with minimal fuss, once they knew the benefits to them and the business.”

Everybody in the group – even the non-exec chairman – uses Dinamiks.

“The board has set company goals on an annual basis for many, many years,” says Pilkington. “Using Dinamiks hasn’t changed that, but it has helped us, as a board, communicate those goals to all staff and show staff how they can help us achieve the goals. Staff are encouraged to regularly revisit Dinamiks and input progress notes, which they are doing.”

Return on Investment

It’s early days yet to give a figure for ROI.  The group is currently holding interim reviews, six months after the initial ‘go-live’, and, once completed, this should give the first marker in the success of the system.  “However, short term I can say that Dinamiks has undoubtedly saved us time and, therefore, money,” he adds. “And it’s meeting our, and especially my, expectations.”

Summary of benefits

In Mark Pilkington’s words…

– Easy-to-use, with minimal training required.

–  Being web-based, no installation of software is involved – which means that Dinamiks doesn’t use internal IT resources, such as server space, or support.  Also, web-based means that staff, including me, can access it any time and anywhere where there is a web connection. We are not restricted to using it while at work.  That gives it great flexibility.

– The system gives me a wide range of performance, behaviour and attitude measurement options, enabling me to fine-tune it to Interior Groups’ specific needs. This saves time and allows us to focus on what we want to achieve more quickly.

–  Dinamiks allows the board to communicate the company goals to staff more effectively.

–  Dinamiks overcomes the drawback of paper-based appraisals. And it helps to show that performance measurement is an objective, not subjective, action. That is important in situations where some individuals might take things more personally than they ought to, as can happen during face-to-face, paper-based appraisals.

– It enables staff to work more effectively. These are early days yet but because Dinamiks is saving us time – and also helping us to be more effective while at work – crucially it is also saving The Interiors Group money.

– Futureproofs the way we manage staff performance.

Quality of support

“So far, support has been very good. They have been quick to respond to any queries and, more importantly, are also open to suggestions for further development of Dinamiks in areas like assessment of skills and knowledge” – Mark Pilkington, Financial Director, The Interiors Group

Finally…a testimonial

“Dinamiks is a useful, easy-to-use and learn system that will help us develop staff, and therefore the company, over the coming years” – Mark Pilkington, Financial Director, The Interiors Group.

More at: www.interiorsgroup.co.uk

www.ikdevelopments.com

…ends…

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