Customer Stories

How Pontoon Harnessed the Power of Agile Performance Management

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In 2018, Jenna Dobbins, Global Head of HR at Pontoon Solutions, gathered with her team to rethink the ways they were handling 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 technological platform, fit for the future.


About Pontoon

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

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

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

The Challenges

When evaluating the current performance management model, the Pontoon team highlighted the main points that needed to change in order to improve agility and inspire their workforce. These included:

  • The goal-setting model was outdated. It didn’t support updates or changes to individual goals as priorities shifted throughout the year.
  • Conversations around feedback and development were infrequent, and there were limited ways to collect feedback, analyze it and use it for performance improvement.
  • The entire process was very compliance-driven and felt to leaders like a “tick-box” exercise rather than a process to drive performance and colleague 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.” This was also a top priority for Pontoon’s new approach.

Having already worked with Avature for five years and leveraged our solutions across the entire employee lifecycle, Pontoon looked to the platform once more to help with their new vision: a business-aligned performance management system that prioritized 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 their performance management strategy, detailing their objectives as follows:

  • Empower people leaders to control the process. This meant rethinking the role of HR as an enabler of the process and putting the responsibility in the hands of their leaders.
  • Create an agile, goal-driven approach to give employees the necessary autonomy to manage their own goals.
  • Incorporate frequent and future-oriented check-ins.
  • Capture real-time feedback from multiple sources.
  • The ability to measure the impact of performance management 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

In order for this new system to work, Pontoon understood that its adoption and satisfaction would depend on how changes were communicated and rolled out within the organization. This led to the new solution being introduced in phases:

Phase 1

The first phase of the roll-out seeked to generate minimal disruption to everyday operations. Certain elements could be properly adopted by employees and people leaders before adding additional components and the objective of this first step was to drive value in bite-sized chunks.

Phase 2

The second phase included the introduction of:

  • Informal check-ins allowing employees and leaders to track weekly or biweekly meetings in the system, as well as include notes to look back on.
  • The ability to receive feedback from peers and leaders as well as request feedback, making up a continuous process.
  • Pontooners were also able to give 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 will likely evolve throughout the months and years to come.

Pontoon has experienced this firsthand and in partnership, we have pushed the limits of the technology together, finding new ways to close the gaps and evolve side by side.

The Outcomes

With their new system in place through Avature, Pontoon’s revamped performance management strategy delivered amazing outcomes:

  • They were able to provide goal-setting autonomy to employees, building trust and boosting engagement towards a process that is much more intuitive and dynamic.
  • Employees are acknowledged for the work they are doing, which in turn creates engagement.
  • Feedback is timely and effective, focused on growth and development of team members. These insights help them improve and employees can be recognized for their accomplishments in real time, throughout the year. This praise and feedback allows for trust and transparency as well, since it is not given anonymously.
  • The tool is intuitive and easy to follow, driving adoption and engagement for all parties involved.

“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…

With the help of their long-time partner, Avature, Pontoon was able to bring an ambitious vision to life. The enhancement of their performance management system is an example of just how far you can go with the right tools in place, that adapt to your challenges and evolve with your needs.

With check-ins, feedback and praise all being documented in the system, this new approach to performance management allowed for a new era in Pontoon’s talent management journey. By discovering how goals and company priorities can be aligned Pontoon have put trust and transparency at the center at every stage of the 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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