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Performance Management: Saying Goodbye to Old School

July 28, 2015 by
Posted in Coaching, Employee Engagement

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Recent news that Accenture was doing away with the traditional “rank-and-rate” approach to performance management made headlines in the Financial Times with the article “Common sense frees staff from appraisals.” In The Washington Post article “In big move, Accenture will get rid of annual performance reviews and rankings,” Accenture CEO Pierre Nanterme describes the change as a “massive revolution.”

It will be a “big move”—changing a process that involves 330,000 people is bold and intimidating. And there is no question that changing your approach to performance management means reevaluating the culture you aspire to build.

But it’s hardly unique. Many large organizations are embarking on this journey, and the path Accenture is going to tread is already well beaten. Microsoft, Medtronic, Gap, Juniper Networks, and Kelly Services have all abandoned the old-school approach in favor of a more collaborative focus on coaching. A seminal moment in this trend was a slight foot-in-mouth moment in 2012 when Adobe’s SVP Donna Morris, jet lagged after a long flight to India, told the HR press that the software firm was going to abolish the practice—forcing the hand of the company to move on the plan. With over 12,000 employees, this was also a big move.

We are working with dozens of organizations to answer a key question: If we do away with performance evaluations, what do we replace them with? We have captured best practices in a recent research report published by our BlessingWhite division. We have also shared the specific story of Jet Propulsion Laboratory of Pasadena, CA, where tremendous improvements resulted from this change.

Borrowing insights from Geoffrey A. Moore, the innovators have already shown the way. We are now experiencing a wave of “early adopters” who are seeing the real value of scrapping forms and ratings in favor of coaching and effective leadership. No doubt this will lead to an “early majority” of companies, large and small, who are finally letting go of this industrial-era management approach. Will you be there with them or part of the laggards?

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About the Author: Fraser is the Head of the Leadership Practice at BlessingWhite, a division of GP Strategies. Fraser has held global marketing and product management roles for the last 16 years, working out of the UK, Sweden, Canada and the USA. Prior to joining BlessingWhite in 2007 Fraser was Head of E-commerce and Director of Web Marketing at GE Healthcare. He holds a business degree from the University of Bradford School of Management in the UK.

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