How QinetiQ Empowers Managers to Create A High-Performance Culture

Ross Brooks
How QinetiQ Empowers Managers to Create A High-Performance Culture

QinetiQ is a leading science and engineering company operating primarily in the defence, security and aerospace industries. The company relies on the experience and expertise of its 6,000 employees, including more than 3,000 scientists and engineers, to understand and respond to the most pressing challenges faced by their customers.

To meet the high standards of their customers, QinetiQ has invested heavily in building a culture that fosters consistently high levels of engagement and performance.

In the words of Claire Watson, Director of Organization Development and Early Careers:

“It’s our people that make our organization tick. We’ve got some very unique technical skills and capabilities that help deliver results for our customers, which is why people are right at the heart of our business.”

Since introducing Peakon, QinetiQ have been able to extend the conversation about culture throughout the organization and empower their managers to make decisions and respond to feedback in a way that ensures the continued success of the business.

Key results

  • Survey results and planned actions are shared with all employees after each round as part of the company’s “Engagement In Action Plan”
  • Launched a new Rewarding for Performance framework, which led to a 15% increase in Peakon’s reward driver
  • Empowered over 600 managers to act on feedback and discuss engagement with their teams.

 

Claire’s Story

Starting a conversation about culture

We’ve worked really hard on our culture, and the important point for me is that it’s something we talk about on a regular basis. We discuss what we like about working here, what isn’t working, and what could be even better.

In the past we relied on town halls and other group forums, but when you have hundreds of people in a room, sometimes only the very brave put their hand up to express a view or ask a question.

With Peakon, everyone has an equal voice, which helps to break down barriers and surface themes that we might not have noticed otherwise. We want to know what people would like to see as a manager, employee, or senior leader, which really wakes the organization up to the possibilities of how things could be.

Once you start asking for feedback, you’ll find that people react in a very positive way, which allows for more open conversations and a collaborative approach to solving problems.

Equipping managers with the right information

After you’ve started the conversation about culture and engagement, you have to make sure you’re using that feedback to address employee concerns and areas of improvement. The people right at the heart of that are our managers and team leaders.

That’s been one of the areas where we’ve seen the biggest shift, especially compared to a traditional engagement survey.

In the past, after we received everyone’s feedback, things would go quiet for a couple of months while the numbers were crunched, followed by a top level results presentation. By then a couple of months have passed and the momentum is gone, leaving people puzzled as to why no action has happened.

Now, managers are empowered. Peakon does the legwork so managers don’t have to. It analyzes everything automatically and signposts the results, freeing up managers to focus their time and effort into taking action and doing what they do best — leading their team.

We’ve also created a programme called “Enabling Managers”, where we help people to understand the role of a manager and the impact it has on their team. We want to set our managers up with what they need to be a great manager and Peakon is right at the heart of this helping them to understand what is working well in their team and what can be even better.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive, especially when managers realised the information they were receiving is completely unfiltered. We’ve been able to empower over 600 managers across the business, which is a game changer.

It’s important to remember that nobody is born being a great manager — and it’s a tough job! That’s why we’re trying to create an environment where managers can be open and learn from each other.

Closing the feedback loop

At QinetiQ, the advice to managers is “Share, Act, Close the loop”.

One of the best examples of closing the loop that happened as a result of using Peakon is how we implemented our Rewarding for Performance framework. It covers all aspects of our reward and benefits package, as well as our peer-to-peer recognition scheme, known internally as ThankQ. Feedback in Peakon told us that people wanted to know more about how the Framework works and as a result, we worked with managers to help them understand it so they can answer questions from their team and explain everything in a very open and transparent way.

Feedback in Peakon tells us that our ThankQ scheme has enabled individuals to recognize their peers for the great things they do and it is often quoted as being ‘the best thing that happened to me this month’. We celebrate great performance at our annual Recognition Gala Dinner where the sense of pride in the brilliant things our people do is incredible.

As a result, we’ve seen a 15% improvement in the Reward driver over the past year.

Another area of focus highlighted by feedback from Peakon has been career growth. Many of our managers have really listened to what their teams were saying about the fact they could not see a clear path to progressing their career. In response we have seen teams develop career pathways and open up discussions about how to develop skills and experience.

We’re also closing the loop through our “Engagement In Action Plan,” which drives the group-level actions and is shared with all of our employees after each feedback window. It gives us a way of sharing what’s been working well, what could be improved, and what we’ve been doing to address employee feedback across the business since the last survey.

Focusing on one action at a time

It might seem overwhelming to ask for feedback from your entire organization, but the important thing to remember is that engagement is a shared responsibility.

By sharing your survey results and starting a conversation about the themes that have emerged, it becomes a team exercise. That way people become part of the solution, instead of just looking to someone more senior when something needs fixing.

We still have more to do and we are very focused on continuing to develop our culture to support business growth. It can be difficult to know where to start, but our experience with Peakon has taught us that when you focus on taking one action at a time, it can quickly lead to huge cultural shifts.

The results speak for themselves. Since launching Peakon we’ve been able to increase engagement by 10% year on year and embed engagement throughout the organization.