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Chartered Institute of Marketing: From painful paper process to a coaching model

With Sarah Lee-Boone, Director of People & Organisational Development




For over 100 years, CIM has supported, represented and developed marketers and the profession. The world’s leading professional marketing body. Our mission is to create marketing advantage for the benefit of professionals, business and society.



Chartered Body


Maidenhead, United Kingdom



As part of its trans­for­ma­tion pro­gramme, The Char­tered Insti­tute of Mar­ket­ing (CIM) iden­ti­fied that its per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem was not capa­ble of sup­port­ing the organ­i­sa­tion­al change that formed an inte­gral part of the over­all busi­ness strat­e­gy. Staff sur­veys had indi­cat­ed that employ­ees were also unhap­py with the exist­ing scheme and want­ed more reg­u­lar input into their per­for­mance and devel­op­ment. CIM intro­duced a plan of reg­u­lar one-to-ones and feed­back in 2016 but were unable to mea­sure progress or ensure a con­sis­tent approach that was aligned to the busi­ness objec­tives. The sys­tem was paper based, admin heavy and did not seem to be inspir­ing man­agers to real­ly engage with their teams. 

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CIM’s Asso­ciate Direc­tor of Peo­ple, Sarah Lee-Boone, recog­nised that it is only reg­u­lar and mean­ing­ful per­for­mance con­ver­sa­tions that tru­ly move the dial. Specif­i­cal­ly, CIM need­ed a high­er lev­el of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and fre­quent feed­back in order to facil­i­tate an organ­i­sa­tion­al shift to a more agile and con­tin­u­al­ly evolv­ing entity. 

Sarah knew that this would be a big change for man­agers and team lead­ers and was keen that this didn’t become anoth­er ​HR ini­tia­tive’ – own­er­ship and empow­er­ment were key to suc­cess. At the same time as devel­op­ing a new man­age­ment behav­iour­al frame­work and organ­i­sa­tion­al vision and val­ues, it seemed the right time to launch this new way of work­ing, aligned to a new vision for the organ­i­sa­tion. It had to be some­thing that peo­ple real­ly under­stood, bought into and was embed­ded into CIM’s culture. 

Sarah had been aware of Clear Review for a while and researched the prod­uct thor­ough­ly. From a method­olog­i­cal point of view, the align­ment was per­fect. After years of expe­ri­ence as an HR direc­tor and per­for­mance man­age­ment con­sul­tant, Clear Review founder and CEO Stu­art Hearn has strong views about that the core ele­ments of good per­for­mance. He believes these are three­fold: qual­i­ty con­ver­sa­tionsreal-time feed­back; and near-term per­for­mance and per­son­al devel­op­ment goals. These are the three ele­ments that the Clear Review sys­tem was built upon, so when see­ing the soft­ware in action Sarah quick­ly con­clud­ed that it was the right prod­uct for CIM; a light and sim­ple dig­i­tal frame­work to sup­port and enable the new approach. 

Dis­cussing Clear Review as a prod­uct, Sarah said: 

Clear Review is a real­ly effec­tive prod­uct. Its cre­ator, Stu­art Hearn, had expe­ri­ence with­in a senior HR role so under­stood the chal­lenges, and this real­ly shows in the prod­uct, in terms of ease of use. It’s extreme­ly sim­ple, which means we can focus on help­ing peo­ple focus on the per­son­al devel­op­ment aspect, rather than train­ing peo­ple on the sys­tem itself. It’s also extreme­ly cost effec­tive for the val­ue we get from it. That’s large­ly because the sys­tem has the core of what we need, with­out loads of extras that are not rel­e­vant to us, and often result in giv­ing the end user a more con­fused expe­ri­ence. Final­ly, it’s incred­i­bly easy to imple­ment and man­age from an admin­is­tra­tion perspective.”

The impact of the change has been huge, with the new approach empow­er­ing man­agers to have mean­ing­ful rela­tion­ships with their teams in a more open, one to one way. 77% of CIM peo­ple have had a quar­ter­ly check-in and in Sarah’s words: 

The organ­i­sa­tion has been through a sig­nif­i­cant peri­od of tran­si­tion and I can hon­est­ly say that with­out our new per­for­mance coach­ing mod­el, aid­ed by Clear Review, we would not have been able to achieve what we have. Clear Review has become inte­gral to our peo­ple man­age­ment strat­e­gy and has become the cen­tral place for manager/​employee con­ver­sa­tion, feed­back and per­for­mance focus. It’s about build­ing trust and empow­er­ing employ­ees, and we’ve real­ly man­ag­ing to achieve that. Man­agers don’t feel like they’re being policed, and we’ve got more pur­pose and align­ment than we’ve ever had before.” 

Dis­cussing some of the pre­vi­ous chal­lenges, Sarah said: 

Pre­vi­ous­ly, we had intro­duced the con­cept of CPM with a paper sup­port­ed sys­tem. How­ev­er, whilst it meant that many mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sions were tak­ing place, we could not extract data to demon­strate this.” 

With the core project of engage­ment and align­ment going well, the next issue to tack­le was data gen­er­a­tion and vis­i­bil­i­ty of what is hap­pen­ing from a per­for­mance per­spec­tive. Clear Review reports pro­vide real time infor­ma­tion on who is and isn’t hav­ing per­for­mance con­ver­sa­tions, where feed­back is and isn’t being pro­vid­ed and the split between pos­i­tive vs con­struc­tive, as well as the abil­i­ty to see the how many goals are being set, bro­ken down by team and divi­sion. This data has allowed for a sim­ple but insight­ful KPI dash­board to be built, which is reg­u­lar­ly viewed by senior man­age­ment, right up to Board level. 

We’re excit­ed about how far we’ve come. How­ev­er, it’s impor­tant to remem­ber that build­ing a high-per­for­mance coach­ing cul­ture is an ever-evolv­ing project, not a final destination.”
  • It’s impor­tant to focus on the ​Why’ as much as the ​How’. The sys­tem is very intu­itive and the need for sys­tem train­ing is min­i­mal. How­ev­er, this is a big shift in cul­ture for many peo­ple and it is impor­tant have a clear pur­pose about where you’re aim­ing to get to – this affects the way you artic­u­late and influ­ence to bring about mean­ing­ful, long-term change. 
  • Align to the busi­ness strat­e­gy and the key stake­hold­ers’ agen­das. Focus on where the busi­ness is going and show clear links between how a more agile and focused approach to per­for­mance man­age­ment will help deliv­er on the organ­i­sa­tion­al goals. 
  • Talk to peo­ple. Senior stake­hold­ers, your HR team, but most impor­tant­ly the man­age­ment and employ­ee pop­u­la­tion. Ask ques­tions, under­stand, ask more ques­tions. You can then sum­marise the core themes, speak them back, and build your method­olog­i­cal plat­form. Engage­ment sur­veys are also a great way to gath­er insight. 
  • Man­agers want details. A great way of artic­u­lat­ing the ​how’ is by get­ting a free tri­al from Clear Review and show­ing them what the new mod­el looks like in real­i­ty. This demys­ti­fies the process and proves that you’re look­ing to make things eas­i­er, not demand­ing more admin­is­tra­tive effort. 
  • I want­ed to move away from per­for­mance devel­op­ment being an HR ini­tia­tive and Clear Review pro­vid­ed lots of sup­port in terms of a comms & train­ing. We are a rel­a­tive­ly small organ­i­sa­tion with lim­it­ed resource, so for us this sup­port was vital in get­ting us up and run­ning. Clear Review is extreme­ly sim­ple to use, so you can arrange some brief ses­sions or drop-in clin­ics, sup­port­ed by the Clear Review user guides, which are con­cise and infor­ma­tive. I can’t stress enough though, focus on the on the cul­tur­al aspects of why you’re doing what you’re doing, and the tech­nol­o­gy will work out. 

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