Friday, August 7, 2015

On iterative performance reviews

Since everyone's talking about lions lately, let's look at a story from a long time ago about a lion called Scar. Scar wanted to usurp the throne, and this got some hyenas all excited because they thought that there would be no king.

Scar informed the hyenas otherwise.

This has a direct bearing on one of last month's big stories. No, not the one about the dentist and the lion in Zimbabwe. The one from Accenture:

As of September, one of the largest companies in the world will do all of its employees and managers an enormous favor: It will get rid of the annual performance review.

Lillian Cunningham, who wrote this article for the Washington Post, wrote her words with care. She did NOT say that Accenture was getting rid of the performance review.

She said that Accenture was getting rid of the ANNUAL performance review.

It will implement a more fluid system, in which employees receive timely feedback from their managers on an ongoing basis following assignments.

This is only part of what's going on - Accenture is also (theoretically) downplaying the idea that people get slotted into a bell curve - but the iterative nature of review is a significant step. Among other things, it provides more timely and useful information:

[P]erformance management had to change from trying to measure the value of employees’ contribution after the fact. It needed instead to regularly support and position workers to perform better in the future.

At this point, few companies have transitioned from the annual performance review cycle. Has yours?
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