Overhauling performance development™ methods is no easy feat, especially for large businesses. The difficulty of implementing mass structural changes increases with every additional employee. Fortunately, businesses can look to successful companies for advice on how to employ ongoing performance development within their organizations. For instance, the methods used at Accenture and Adobe are great guidelines for launching a successful program.
Pierre Nanterme, CEO of Accenture, announced his company’s decision to abolish annual performance reviews for its more than 300,000 employees during an interview with The Washington Post in July 2015. Nanterme said his company planned to do away with about 90 percent of the review process, claiming the time managers invested hadn’t “[yielded] a great outcome.” He also recognized traditional performance reviews were more likely to drive away millennial employees and called performance an “ongoing activity.”
Accenture’s new development methods, which Nanterme credits to his company’s HR officer Ellyn Shook, reflect these views. The new system began in September at the start of Accenture’s 2016 fiscal year. Instead of rankings and the annual evaluations they stem from, employees get feedback from their managers as they make progress on their assignments.
During the interview, Nanterme said his primary challenge as CEO was making the company more agile. The issue is something he confronts every day as he oversees employees across 120 countries. When asked for advice on how to make an organization more flexible, Nanterme said business leaders must avoid abrupt large-scale changes. This statement is especially true for large companies, where a sudden switch in practices is both risky and disruptive.
“Rather than waiting for the big day, let’s change every day,” he told The Washington Post.
Donna Morris, Adobe’s global senior vice president of people and places, questioned her company’s annual review process in 2011, Fortune reported. Adobe operated on the all-too-familiar method of annual performance reviews, but Morris couldn’t find any benefit to them. After requesting ideas from company employees, she implemented a new system in lieu of the yearly evaluations. Check In, the name for Adobe’s new method of goal setting and assisting employee development, did more than just reduce anxiety regarding annual reviews. Since the implementation, Adobe’s stock rose $50, managers became willing to let go of underperforming workers and the company lost fewer valuable employees to competitive tech businesses.
“People who have turned down other offers tell us it’s partly because Check In makes them feel like we’re helping them succeed,” Morris told Fortune.
What should corporations take away from these two examples? First, as Nanterme explained, widespread change can’t happen in a flash. Employees need time to adjust to new methods and find their footing. Meanwhile, Morris and several other leaders and HR representatives began not by issuing new policies but by surveying employees to see what they wanted. Morris knew the first step in convincing her coworkers to believe in this new structure was to make them a part of it from the beginning. Adobe employees expressed what they wanted out of the performance development process and feel more valued as a result.