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What they said

Thanks for helping us develop our values and behavioural guidelines – they’ve gone down really well with Convexians everywhere. We’d like to move to the next step now – to embed them in our culture, particularly now we’re growing so quickly.

Can you recommend a way of doing this with maximum impact in the minimum time?

Convex is a London- and Bermuda- based insurance company founded by Stephen Catlin and Paul Brand with £1.9bn of seed capital, based on their stellar reputations in the industry. The company seeks to bring together the very best and brightest talent in the London market and – unique in the sector – be a values-driven organisation.

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What we did together

Understanding that ‘what gets measured gets done’ in a performance-oriented environment like the London insurance market, we recommended immediately that Convex make employees’ ability to ‘live the values’ of Convex a criterion against which they are assessed.

This meant writing values-based behaviours into the company’s performance appraisal system. Convex uses the OKR (objectives and key results) framework – so the approach we took was to link a range of sample objectives to each of the five values and then define what behaviours the company might expect to see against each one and – critically – the key results or outcomes.

We then extended this approach to define behaviours at the ‘encourage’, ‘strong’ and ‘exceptional’ levels, describing in detail what hypothetical employees in the various departments might do if they were to demonstrate performance at each of these three levels.

We researched a wide range of real-life scenarios and behaviours with real people performing the roles we’d described – fine-tuning our descriptions to make sure they would resonate.

Then we launched the new appraisal system (branded ‘Performance Insights’) and sought appraisers’ feedback on how easy is was to use. We found universal approval, because appraisers appreciated the way we’d brought performance insights to life using real, authentic, well-researched examples which we’d described in easy-to understand language – which has since become a Convex hallmark.

What we learned

Real life examples, well-written and presented, can help bring to life the most complex topics and define abstract subjects like ‘values’.

They can also – in this instance – make potentially difficult conversations easier because both appraiser and appraised can assess the behavioural examples given and know whether similar behaviours are being exhibited or not. We made the process of assessing behaviours more S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based) in HR parlance.

Finally, it became obvious to us that although we’d addressed this need using the OKR model, in reality our approach can work easily with any HR appraisal model – even in the absence of a model or process – as long as the behavioural examples are authentic.

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