Getting rid of the performance review process? Not really!

Performance evaluation is not going away, it is just transforming.
Performance evaluation is not going away, it is just transforming.

Accenture made news recently by announcing they were getting rid of performance evaluation. The world rejoiced (or so it seemed) as Accenture joined a list of other notable companies to “rid the world of performance evaluation!” The problem is they are not really getting rid of performance evaluation.

No more Annual process

What Accenture is doing is getting rid of the clunky annual process that many “enlightened” HR professionals and managers knew didn’t work. What they are moving to is an ongoing feedback process. This is typically known as “management” and this is how a manager is supposed to interact with employees on an ongoing basis. Now this is the new “whiz-bang” form of performance evaluation.
I have long touted this form of ongoing performance feedback. I have long said that there should never be a surprise in performance for either the manager or the employee because they were talking all the time.

Saving money?

In one article it was mentioned how much money they were spending on the annual process, $35 million, which they considered to be unproductive time of managers having to get trained on the process. Are they going to save $35 million a year? The answer is no. Managers will have to spend more time with employees now. Performance problems will still have to be documented (their employment lawyers will insist on this). Managers will have to be trained on how to interact with employees since they have apparently not been doing that. So in all likelihood they may actually spend more money on performance management.

Performance management

When asked in an interview, So will there still be ratings or will there just be feedback?” Pierre Nanterme, the President of Accenture responded “At the end of the day, you need to give some evaluation. You need to give a compensation increase. But all this terminology of rankings—forcing rankings along some distribution curve or whatever—we’re done with that. We’ve totally done too much effort for a limited outcome.” He further said “Performance is an ongoing activity. It’s every day, after any client interaction or business interaction or corporate interaction. It’s much more fluid. People want to know on an ongoing basis, am I doing right? Am I moving in the right direction? Do you think I’m progressing? Nobody’s going to wait for an annual cycle to get that feedback. Now it’s all about instant performance management.”
So as you can see Accenture is NOT getting rid of performance evaluation. They are getting rid of an outdated, clunky process that didn’t work and replacing with a process of more frequent interactions designed to provide more immediate feedback and course correction as needed. All of the rankings and distribution curve issues were financial tools to be able to dole out money that organizations were often loath to spend.
For this I applaud them! It is a big step for a 330,000 company to dump tradition. I hope it works. It will still require work, and initially perhaps more oversight by HR and upper management, but it has the potential for being more responsive than the old method. I hope they are combining this with some good goal setting and tracking of performance numbers, otherwise employees may still complain that the process if subjective, just more often.
So congratulations Accenture, job well done. Just quit bragging about getting rid of performance appraisal. You are just changing the system.

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