Performance Management Case Study: The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and PABLO

performance management case study

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), owners of RZSS Edinburgh Zoo and RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, recently commissioned Marshall’s to produce an online performance management system.  

Known as PABLO, the new bespoke system will automate the performance management process at RZSS, although it has been purposefully designed to be adaptable for any type of business or organisation.

PABLO is a radical and innovative approach as it enables a level of ‘self-driven’ performance by each employee.  It also incorporates a competency behaviour framework, an e-learning module and a facility to enable employees to better manage their own career development.

Why did RZSS choose to partner with Marshall to develop PABLO?

RZSS said they chose Marshall’s because we are a company with a strong reputation for meaningfully engaging with a business, we understand the work environment, and always ensure that a workable solution is implemented.  They said that we also understand managing performance and professional development, and how they can be integrated into an organisations DNA to improve the business.

This exciting and unique commission also includes an ongoing revenue stream from the product as a donation towards wildlife conservation!

Why does RZSS need a system like PABLO?

As the owner of two of Scotland’s leading visitor attractions and a renowned animal conservation charity, RZSS recognises the need to maintain a resilient staff community of empowered people whose performance is focused on objectives that align with department goals and underpin the strategic plan.

RZSS don’t want just a tick-box exercise, nor simply to move a paper-based appraisal system online, PABLO is about – staff!  They want performance management to be a very positive experience, a natural part of everyone’s job, and a key element in helping employees to be successful in their role and to develop personally and professionally.  

PABLO fosters robust working relationships and enables line managers to deliver a higher standard of leadership, direction and support to staff.  So PABLO is not simply a system; it is a vehicle to drive organisational performance and culture change.

What are PABLO’s key features?

The employee takes ownership of drafting their initial objectives, behaviours related to their role and identifying their L&D needs.  This is then reviewed by the line manager.  When the line manager and employee meet they have a better understanding to build from and they can have constructive dialogue focused on outcomes and performance, and look at the present and future rather than wasting time talking about the distant past, filling in forms, and following a process that is often ‘over-managed’ and determined solely by their line manager.

PABLO gives an employee empowerment and confidence to take a level of responsibility for their own personal performance, whilst providing a much more constructive and productive working relationship with their line manager.  PABLO also encourages career planning, with a personal section that can be used for CVs, L&D records, Career Map, etc.  For a line manager PABLO helps them provide better leadership, direction and support to their staff.

There are a couple of ‘smart’ bits to PABLO too, aimed at helping staff to engage.  PABLO monitors system access by each employee (the timeframe for which can be individually set) and so a line manager knows if an employee has not looked at their objectives recently.  

This is not meant to be any sort of management or HR policing, but rather it is a support mechanism, highlighting the importance of objectives and behaviours as an integral element of performing well and keeping focused on what really needs to be done.

Another distinctive element of PABLO, which is not found on any other performance system, is an option for a supervisor of a small team (for example cleaners, security staff, etc.) to manage the team’s performance as one.

PABLO also smooths the way between one completed performance cycle and the next by not leaving you with a blank objectives sheet to complete (like an artist with an empty canvas, or writer starting with a blank page).  PABLO carries over your objectives from the previous cycle and you can amend them for the next period.

PABLO understands YOU and understands the business and facilitates an efficient workable process that helps everyone to be successful.

What are the benefits that PABLO will bring to RZSS?

For the organisation PABLO will have numerous benefits, for example:

  1. It will significantly improve line managers’ capability and capacity.
  2. It will promote a culture within which staff can take a greater level of ownership of their performance and subsequently be motivated and driven to achieve excellence.
  3. It enables staff to have a greater awareness of the ‘big picture’ through improved communication and understanding of department objectives and how they relate to organisation goals.
  4. Performance will focus on key issues and enable real achievement for individuals, teams and the organisation as a whole:
    1. Improve the talent base across the organisation
    2. Improve return on L&D investment

Are there any tangible results that PABLO has given RZSS?

The simple answer to that is – YES!  

PABLO has already begun to change how staff think about their development – RZSS now have 45 staff on courses leading to a qualification, another 30 staff who have completed IT-related courses, and real engagement from line managers in a skills development programme.  

There are also some excellent training initiatives underway that are driving positive change, and these are directly related to the implementation of PABLO.

Managing change is all well and good.  Organisations may change WHAT they are doing, HOW they are doing it, but the reason change is often ineffective or unsuccessful is that people don’t change the way they THINK about things.  PABLO helps to give clarity to such issues, and whereas many organisations view their performance system as a separate entity, at RZSS PABLO is an integral part of the bigger HR-People strategy.

PABLO is driving performance and culture change, and helping to focus staff on key issues, consequently making a significant contribution to the visitor experience, conservation and the health and care of their amazing animals, and developing the business.

With PABLO the business and people results can be awesome!

If you want to find out more about Marshall E-Learning’s work with RZSS or about the PABLO system, please get in touch or take a look at our Performance Management course.

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