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In 2018, Jenna Dobbins, Global Head of HR at Pontoon Solutions, gathered with her team to rethink how they handled their performance management process.

“As we began to brainstorm what our future performance management system would look like, we knew that the very first step would be to replace our extremely clunky manual process with more automation and technology.”

Jessica Clifton

Global Director of People Operations at Pontoon

With an urgent need to evolve their process into one that would generate engagement and put transparency and trust as key drivers, Pontoon looked to Avature to help make this vision a reality. Their new and improved performance management system allowed for regular feedback and adaptability, transforming their paper-based approach into an accessible and agile technology platform fit for the future.


A performance management portal branded with Pontoon's colors showing an employee's development plan, goals, and feedback.

About Pontoon

Pontoon is a leading global workforce solutions provider, partnering with top organizations worldwide to address their talent needs.

They help place over 98,000 permanent hires annually and over 400,000 contingent or temp starters. They support their clients in designing and building bespoke talent strategies specific to their needs, whether they are looking for full-time employees, gig workers or upskilling opportunities for their existing workforce.

As a global organization that employs 2,000 people and conducts business in 110 countries, they are always looking to find better ways to engage with their workforce.

The Challenges

When evaluating the current performance management model, the Pontoon team highlighted the main changes they needed to undergo to improve agility and inspire their workforce. These included:

  • The goal-setting model needed to be updated, as it didn’t support updates or changes to individual goals even when priorities shifted throughout the year.
  • Conversations around feedback and development were infrequent and there were limited ways to collect, analyze and use feedback for performance improvement.
  • The entire process was overly compliance-driven and leaders felt they were checking boxes instead of engaging in a process to drive performance and professional development.

When thinking of an ideal performance management system, Josh Bersin mentions in his latest report that “the best performance management models are those that can support the management approach and cultural footprint of the organization,” underlining Pontoon’s priorities in developing their new approach.

Having worked with Avature for five years and leveraged our solutions across the entire employee lifecycle, Pontoon looked to the platform again to help with their new vision: a business-aligned performance management system prioritizing trust and transparency.

The Main Objectives

According to Gallup, only 14 percent of employees strongly agree that the performance reviews they receive inspire them to improve. With that in mind, Pontoon wanted to make a change and sought to give more value to its performance management strategy, detailing its objectives as follows:

  • Empower people leaders to control the process by rethinking the role of HR as facilitators and delegating this responsibility to their leaders.
  • Create an agile, goal-driven approach giving employees the necessary autonomy to manage their own goals.
  • Incorporate frequent and future-oriented check-ins.
  • Capture real-time feedback from multiple sources.
  • Harness the ability to measure performance management impact within their business.

“We implemented a much more continuous approach to performance and development that motivates employees to not only accomplish their goals but also to develop a better relationship with their people leader.”

Jessica Clifton

Global Director of People Operations at Pontoon

The Roll-Out

Pontoon understood that the success and adoption of this new system would depend on how changes were rolled out and communicated within the organization. As such, they decided to introduce the new solution in phases:

Phase 1

The first phase of the roll-out entailed minimizing disruptions to daily operations. Employees and management could adequately adopt some elements before adding other components. The objective was to drive value in bite-sized chunks.

Phase 2

The second phase included introducing:

  • Informal check-ins allow employees and leaders to track weekly or biweekly meetings in the system and include notes to refer back to.
  • The ability to receive and request feedback from peers and leaders, promoting a continuous and seamless process.
  • Pontooners could also provide core-value-related praise to any employee at Pontoon.

Phase 3

This final phase of Pontoon’s strategy allows for future innovation, keeping in mind that employee and company goals are constantly evolving.

Pontoon's performance management portal listing an employee's quarterly goals with detailed milestones for each goal.

Pontoon has experienced this evolution firsthand. Our partnership has pushed technological limits and driven us to grow simultaneously.

The Outcomes

With Avature, Pontoon’s revamped performance management strategy delivered staggering outcomes:

  • They provided employees with goal-setting autonomy, building trust and boosting engagement in a more intuitive and dynamic process.
  • Employees are acknowledged for their work, which in turn creates engagement.
  • Feedback is timely and effective, focused on team members’ growth and development. These insights help employees improve performance and their accomplishments are recognized in real time. This praise and feedback is not anonymous and promotes trust and transparency. The tool is intuitive and easy to follow, driving adoption and engagement for all parties involved.

The details of an employee's quarterly goal, including a description, target date, status, milestones and reviewers.

“All goals and projects are now recorded in real time in the tool. So as goals and priorities change throughout the year, our teams are able to log into the system and make those updates in real time.”

Jenna Dobbins

VP of Human Resources at Pontoon

To Conclude…

Pontoon brought an ambitious vision to life with Avature, their long-time partner. Their performance management system enhancement is an example of what you can achieve with the right tools that adapt to your challenges and evolve with your needs.

With check-ins, feedback and praise documented in the system, this new approach to performance management ushered in a new era in Pontoon’s talent management journey. By aligning goals and priorities, Pontoon has positioned trust and transparency at the center of its process.

“As we say at Pontoon, performance management never felt so good.”

Jenna Dobbins

VP of Human Resources at Pontoon

If you’d like to hear more about Pontoon’s story, you can view their webinar here.

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