EMI Music Case Study
EMI Music is one of the world’s leading music companies, and is home to some of the most successful and best known recording artists. Its global record labels include Virgin Records, Capitol, Parlophone and EMI Classics, with assets including The Beatles’ back catalogue.
In 2007 the company was acquired by a private equity firm and a number of new people were introduced to the business, many from outside of the music industry.
“There was an influx of individuals, who had experienced high-quality performance management elsewhere and seen it can really help people know which priorities to focus on, how they are performing against expectations, and how they need to develop to progress in their career,” explains Helena Karlinder-Ostlundh, Head of Organisation Development.
However, when EMI Music first introduced performance management, the initial system was complicated and elaborate, and the response was not entirely positive.
“The system was unnecessarily complex for a business of this size,” says Karlinder-Ostlundh. “It asked people, who were only just getting used to doing performance management, to rate achievement on a number of different percentage scales, and it fitted these ratings to a forced distribution curve. The feedback was that the process was too complex and distracted people from the most important component of performance management: the conversation between managers and their team members about how it’s going and what is important going forward.”
Within the music industry, there has historically been resistance to the imposition of structure and process, based on a perception that it stifles creativity. But, like the rest of the industry, EMI Music needed to nurture the skills required to embrace a fast changing marketplace – not least the rapid growth of digital business. It was clear that a robust performance management system was needed to recognise talent and offer career development, while building the skills that would support organisational growth and drive success.
In 2011 EMI Music turned to PlusHR to help streamline their performance management process. Using cutting-edge software, designed by HR professionals, to effortlessly provide support with powerful functionality and features, including online objective setting and performance reviews, and automated workflow approvals.
Software customisation enabled EMI Music to develop a meaningful framework of skills and behaviours that employees were assessed against. Being ‘digitally savvy’ is one of six critical skills that structure EMI’s performance review process, accompanied by a more free-flowing element where individuals can discuss their greatest achievements and disappointments. This flexible functionality enables EMI to strike the right balance of structure and discussion to fit their culture, with a vastly simpler process overall. Objectives vary from role to role and are now assessed according to a straightforward performance rating scale that measures them as either ‘fully achieved’, ‘partially achieved’ or ‘not achieved’.
The intuitive nature of our performance software means EMI Music has been able to significantly reduce the amount of system training required, freeing its HR team to focus on developing performance management skills instead of teaching employees how to use the software. The system features comprehensive online guidance, but to take even more pressure off the in-house team, we provided EMI Music with a system helpdesk, with HR professionals at the end of the line.
With the physical process simplified, EMI’s in-house HR team has gained valuable time, allowing them to focus on engaging employees with the performance review strategy and building a culture that truly sees the value in setting relevant objectives that drive initiatives for the coming year.
EMI Music has benefited from a streamlined, more professional approach to HR that delivers structured employee objectives and provides a platform for high quality performance management conversations. It has transformed the attitudes of workforce and unlocked significant benefits to organisational performance. As a result, the system has now been rolled out across 2,500 users in 20 countries and five languages.
Since implementing the system, EMI Music has seen completion rates increase dramatically – meaning far less HR and management time is spent chasing review submissions. Employee feedback has also been positive, with a growing realisation across the business that performance management is key to nurturing talent and ensuring the business has the skills in place to deal with a fast changing marketplace.
Core information from the system – such as completion rate by function and geography – is used routinely by EMI’s HR team and is proving invaluable in terms of reviewing talent and succession planning, enabling the business to consistently measure individuals against shared performance expectations. Consequently, EMI Music now has a far more proactive approach to career development, with both the ability and structure to support the growth of individuals.
PlusHR is a unique organisation in terms of its skillset, understanding of our business and approach to the task in hand. They were pragmatic and theoretical, driven to go above and beyond and fully accountable for their support and recommendations. They are also a great bunch of people to work with, listen to and to drive a project forward. I fully endorse them!
What EMI Says...
EMI Music has benefited from a streamlined, more professional approach to HR that delivers structured employee objectives and provides a platform for high quality performance management conversations. It has transformed the attitudes of the workforce and unlocked significant benefits to organisational performance. As a result, the system has now been rolled out across 2,500 users in 20 countries and five languages.
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