Enterprise Software

Adobe scrapping yearly performance reviews

Adobe Systems is scrapping yearly performance reviews in favor of more real-time feedback from managers.

I have to confess: I do not like performance reviews. I don't like getting them, even though I've mostly always gotten good reviews. And I'd rather experience blunt force trauma to the head than give a review to my employees.

I'm not sure why. I think because they seem so formal and hierarchical to me and that has never jibed in the collaborative environments I've always worked in. I've always made sure my teams know that they're doing a good job or make sure they know areas that need improvement without that formal process.

There's also the matter of all those review "apps" that offer up ready-made goals and skill sets that are so generic that they're meaningless.

Apparently, Adobe Systems feels the same way. The global product services company is scrapping its yearly performance reviews and replacing them with more instant and real-time feedback. (Although raises will still be given only once per year.)

Donna Morris, senior VPHR at the company, says she noticed many grievances regarding appraisals every year. And bosses would assess a team member keeping his last achievements or failures in mind instead of the work done throughout the year, popularly called the "recency effect." Adobe is in the process of training managers on how to give feedback in this way.

I think this is a great idea, and I'm eager to see how it ends up shaking out a few years down the road. What do you think?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

46 comments
dwhipple
dwhipple

You want feedback? I think your article (if I dare call it that) lacks any real substance, which will porbably be the same with Adobe's push for nixing annual evals.

LindaJon
LindaJon

Performance reviews have been around for a long time and the critique of the traditional approach can no longer be ignored. Forward thinking companies are doing something about it. And rightfully so! Annual reviews, forced rankings, ratings that imply scientific data but are based on individuals subjective mood of the day are outdated in todays fast paced, transparent and collaborative world. The internet, social media as well as changed work conditions and requirements call for instant feedback. Why wait one year? We get reviewed on a daily basis anyway. Does that mean the answer is to scrap reviews all together? Not quite. I think the best way is to capture continuous feedback and progress. All you than need is mile stone meetings or performance check-ins every quarter or 6 months to summ up the ongoing communications and concentrate on future improvements. Those kind of reviews don't need to be complicated, lengthy or dreaded. And they certainly won't have any surprises or suffer from the 'recency effect'. There are many new tools like ours called 'Small Improvements' to help facilitate a more agile and lean approach to performance management. After all, the goal should not be compliance or bureaucracy but actual performance improvements.

rwniebuhr
rwniebuhr

When I went to work for Electronic Data Systems in 1985, my first manager told me that if there were any surprises in a performance review, the manager was doing a poor job. 20 years later, the corporate culture had declined to the point that people were being blindsided in punitive reviews and managers were forced to put a percentage of their people into four boxes that ranged from unsatisfactory to exemplary, no matter how they had all performed. Thank God I was kicked out (with a very sweet good-bye kiss, I must say) before it got to the point that things reached under HP, with salary cuts being handed out just because they could.

GetWorkSimple
GetWorkSimple

The problem with performance reviews is that many don???t take into consideration every individual goal that was worked on and achieved. Most reviews only use a generic checklist that isn???t catered to the individual employee. The real-time feedback model that Adobe is shifting to makes much more sense. First, employees are given feedback when it???s needed--not a year or months later. Second, employees can take this feedback and apply it to their performance. If employees solely relied on quarterly or yearly performance reviews, many may be either waiting around for some kind of feedback or going in the wrong direction. Real-time feedback solves this issue since it gives the workforce an idea of where they need to go and how to get there while it???s happening, which is beneficial to both the workforce and the organization as a whole.

rahn
rahn

My company now has a quarterly review process but originally this was suppose to be a monthly review. My first comment to HR was this is too often and the following year it became quarterly but it's still too much to me. I'll be honest, I hate this stuff. I've always tried to do my best where ever I worked and I'm pretty low maintenance, i.e. I don't need a lot of guidance or pats on the back. The success of a project has always been my pat on the back and I know how I'm doing. I agonize over filling out the forms with my goals, (how about my goal just being to do a good job?) my recent growth accomplishments, blah, blah, blah. Tell me you don't just make stuff up or use the same lines over and over. I waste more time on this stuff than it's worth. The best thing my department ever did was to get all of us together once a month at lunch and talk about how things are going. Unfortunately it was decided we couldn't all go to lunch together any more, even though we all had phones and are 20 minutes away. I know this isn't "PC" but HR please get out of my way and let me do my job. I won't even mention the 15 minute extensive personality survey that I took on a web site to determine the "type" of person I am and how to relate to me. Are the nuts in charge everywhere?

fhawkins
fhawkins

The formal appraisal only serves to keep the managers "under control," and there are better ways to do that. As an employee management tool, it has always been pretty worthless.

DvT-Hex
DvT-Hex

A "core" standard at our company is "always solve the customers' problems." So, we always solve the customers' problems and then get rated as Average on the annual review because this is what is expected from everyone. How does one improve upon "always?" So, now the company has the justification for granting only a minimum annual raise, if any at all: "Your review was just average. You need to be above average to get more than a minimum." Bah.

crcraft
crcraft

I agree that the recent trend of using "fancy" performance reviews with big time goal setting has only served to frustrate all involved. It's great to see a leader step up and challenge the polluted thinking of the horrendous yearly goal technique. For those who have a boss that is difficult; those bosses can only remember bad things from the past year and beat you to death on an annual basis because they can't or won't remember all the good things you did. I hope Adobe shows that employee reviews can be more reasonable and profitable, like they were in years past.

BrianMWatson
BrianMWatson

As a long time Manager, I am definitely in favor of this. Managers SHOULD be giving employees feedback through the year, as well as tracking goals, etc. This makes any annual process really nothing more than a yearly summary for HR, which is to say it's a waste of time for both the employee and the Manager. For the sake of documenting justification for raises, I could see providing: -A single rating meant to indicate their overall caliber as an employee (meets, exceeds, outstanding, etc.) -A brief summary of their accomplishments Neither of these need involve the employee, however.

l_e_cox
l_e_cox

I worked in an organization where everyone ran on statistics (sometimes called "metrics" by business administration types). Your statistic or statistics were supposed to measure your production. If you thought they didn't you could request a change in your statistic definition. Everyone had to keep track of their statistics and fibbing was a big non-no. If your stats were up, you had protection and were considered for promotion. If your stats were down you were given an opportunity to correct yourself and if that didn't work, a specialist would be called in to help you. If that still didn't work, then you might get let go, but were always supposed to get a "re-entry program." It made for a sort of intense work experience but most of us had the impression that it was both fair and workable. No one likes to get fired for bad performance. But getting accused of "bad performance" without having proper records of what your performance really was is just asking for a situation where HR decisions are based on personality or connections rather than the employee's real worth to the company.

dbrown
dbrown

Want to get real time then lets all watch the Office. This just shows how "The Board of Directors" will try anything to attempt to be organized. Has anyone ever seen that perfect person get the perfect review other then them self of course. I pity the Reviewer.

why2for
why2for

look's like a convenient way to dodge the yearly wage hike too. perhaps only the top 15% of employees will have the chutzpah to bring up the raise subject if there is no annual eval to trigger the discussion.

cdasso45
cdasso45

Being a senior IT manager, I find feed back, both good and bad to be most effective. I do not disagree with goal setting and encourage my team members to do so, but that should be at an individual level. Even though my company does go through the formal performance review process, that is not the way I personally gauge my direct team members. IT professionals definitely respond to this type of real time interaction.

Chetzoo
Chetzoo

Glad to know Adobe has embraced this new thought process and hoping many more will follow them soon. Even though the review process is considered critical in an organisation to differentiate between the performing vs not performing, it has always been advantageous to the appraisers to decide the fate of the employees. Looking forward at this annual process with eagerness for a raise/promotion employees are more often left disappointed due to various reasons beyond their control. One day I wish to be part of such an organisation where I can breathe freely and stop watching my step every day in order to not get a favorable review.

steven
steven

Many of the reviews (not all) seem to be written by direct reports, so here is a perspective from a manager. I mentor and train engineers and engineering managers in "soft-skills". Before starting my own company, I spent 20 years in technical organizations as a technical direct report and later as manager/director/general manager. In my experience, many technical managers are uncomfortable giving performance reviews, and and most technical direct reports are uncomfortable receiving performance reviews. We would all like to go along our merry way, do our work, get paid, and let it go at that. Unfortunately, many managers do not know how to give constant feedback nor do they get training on giving constant feedback (Adobe apparently will train their managers). Many managers, like many engineers, feel that "If I do my job, what do I need a performance review for?" As a manager, I always gave my direct reports/team members both constant feedback and a yearly or 6-month performance review for the following reasons. If the direct report is doing well, then the constant feedback allows me to give immediate praise and appreciate in real-time, directly associated with the task at hand. The formal performance review allows me to discuss career development and give the "formal organization" a way to make a path for the person into the future. If things are not going so well, the constant feedback has to be tempered, otherwise it could demoralize the person, and so a fine line must be walked here. Unfortunately, many managers don't know how to do this and are uncomfortable in this role. The formal performance review, once again, allows the manager and the organization to perhaps move the direct report into an area where they may be more successful. After all, the job of a manager is to help their direct reports to be successful, and some need more help than others. If things are going really, really badly, then the formal reviews allow the HR department to understand the situation and prepare in case the employee needs to be transferred or let go, so that federal and state laws are adhered to. Although, as many of you have said, the Adobe info is sketchy, my guess is that they are still keeping something written and formal. I can't imagine that the HR department and the company can adhere to employee laws without something formal. In my experience, I used both constant informal and periodic formal reviews, and it was my job, as the manager, to ensure the direct report was successful, long-term... either in my organization or somewhere else. The real issue isn't the performance review. The real issue is that companies do not train their managers well in the interpersonal skills necessary to manage well. The general process is, "You did your work really well, so you an probably manage people doing the same work... so now you are a manager." Be well, Steven Cerri

wmitchel
wmitchel

I've had to deal with performance reviews throughout my career and different jobs. I have seen some that are well put together and well written. The manager was interested in their staff and took the time to do a good job at writting them. I have also seen the opposite as well. I have also tried very hard to do right by my staff and provide them with a well written review to let them know where they stand. I feel that I owe that to them. I also try very hard throughout the year to counsel them, good or bad and use them in their annual reviews. Reviews can be a good a tool to use if done correctly. But, it takes a lot of work and eats up a lot of productions time. You look for shortcuts, alot of cut & paste if there is a lot of narrative work to do. Then there is the format used and some of the review formats are really terrible to work with. Some so narrow there is no way to really do a proper review. They look like they were put together at a brown bag luncheon as an afterthought and presented as the company format. In all, reviews along with other traditional ways of doing business need to be changed to meet the changing world and its demands. If you don't use a tool and have no use for it you will usually get rid of it. Maybe the same can be said for annual reviews. Its time to get rid of them? So what will corporate Americal use next to burn up and waste our time with next?

kaizoman
kaizoman

While I think the formal review process is ridiculous and it shouldn't be done in a formal way, I do think that annual reviews are worthwhile when you honestly take the time to review yourself and each-other. We do annual reviews as a way to discuss goals, evaluate where we were with our goals from the previous review. Also, it is our time to give feedback to our leadership on what we think is working and what's not working and they really use that feedback. When you're in a company meeting and you hear one of the concerns you brought up is going to be getting tweaked based on feedback during reviews, not just cause you brought it up, but because it was a concern sited and acknowledged by many. It's very satisfying and makes the company feel like more of a team. I understand that many companies don't do reviews in this way, and it's more of a way for MBA managers to tick of a check list and come up with ways to shaft you on raises and bonuses. Just saying that done right, in the right setting it's a good way to truly evaluate yourself and the company year over year. I applaud Adobe for coming up with a way that works for a company of their size, but I hope they can come up with a way to track long term goals and efforts, not just shimming employee behavior.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

Since my manager was located in another city, I had to write my own and send it to him. And I had to keep track of any significant (and not so significant) events throughout the year lest I forget. Most of the time, I had to come up with flowery prose. This was the case both when I was in IT and before that when I was in the US Air Force. I start a new job next week. Hopefully I won't have to deal with this there.

viveka
viveka

One of the most common discussions is how often a review should be? If one team does 6 projects in a year, and another team has a 18 month project, the review system is broke. Hence project/initiative based reviews for career plans do not work. Initiative based reviews work for motivation, positive re-enforcement and course correction. I don???t think Adobe thought this trough. For example a sales strategy takes 2-3 years to show effects. I would like to see the VP of sales defer his/her annual bonus by the same length! Or the CEO wait until the stock improves over a 5 year period. Would really like to see HR establish the true metrics and transparency! And, finally, a 360 degree review everytime? Really!

impcad
impcad

Any good manager provides continual feedback regarding an employee's effort. There is real value in constructive criticism during and upon completion of a given work effort. That is always the best time to praise an employee for a job well done (or not), while the details of that task and mitigating circumstances are fresh in everyone's mind. The value of an annual performance review is in the aggregate view of the good and not so good perfomance of the employee for the whole year. Done right, it is an opportunity to step back and assess overall trends, goals and issues from a longer term perspective. I have given and received performance reviews for over 20 years and giving reviews is a difficult task to do right (canned forms do not work, they must be adapted to your industry and company culture). Companies do long term and short term strategic planning; why shouldn't employee feedback occur in a similar fashion?

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

Adobe may be on the right track. Probably not. When Doug Sutherland became County Executive prior to the end of the Last Millennium, he surveyed the staff to get rid of "stupid rules". One of the things he did was, was to have HR streamline Annual Performance reviews. The employee launched them, had them sent along to the manager who sent them up to the Director. The whole thing took about 10 minutes per employee. It was kind of a pass / fail in every category and only if there were some deficiencies which needed to be corrected would there need to be extra effort. Successes were included. A part of reporting were the Monthly Information Reports where each department included their successes and future plans so the entire County could review the departments and the Divisions within the department. I suggested and attempted to turn in something similar on the individual level in a similar format, so it could contribute to the MIR and the annual review. Alas, the progressive attitude of Mr. Sutherland regressed into the quagmire of musty old hierarchical administrivia. The annual performance review returned to being a drudge of political intrigue rivaling very bad mystery novels with terrible plots (the two IT Managers married to each other controlling 85% of the employees in defiance of County Law concerning conflict of interest had to be satisfied some way for their Draconian control). After the departure of the progressive County Executive, the drudge of HR lapsed into a situation where my own annual review took 7 years and was lost three times. This tragi-comedy of errors was ably assisted in the $700,000+ development of an internal tracking system, constantly revised, never finished, always incomplete which also crashed frequently and didn't work in just any browser. The two married managers managed to make something unworkable between their two divisions as a reflection of their marital conflicts extended to the work place. He needed stuff for his Developers while she controlled and got the stuff she needed for the Help Desk, Network Narcissists and Server people in her own empire. The system was loosley based on ITIL, a framework which was used nowhere else in IT (which had adopted a bowdlerized ecletic Agile process which was nothing of the kind). The goal of the system was to prove to the customers that they were not just getting what they payed for, but getting extra benefit. Employees would find that managers had "massaged" their entries into new categories which proved to be politically more expedient. One employee was told by the management to lie to the Sheriff's Department and claim work for them while she was actually working internally to support IT. This continues to this day, but keeps getting more refined as it goes along and now only crashes on the average of every six weeks instead of every week. Good luck to Adobe. Maybe they can use the County as a model. It would be the first time that the Corporate world adopts the worst of the government model and implements it badly, instead of the other way around.

blarman
blarman

I applaud Adobe for focusing on more real-time feedback - something I wish I could get. The closer you match the review to the performance involved (whether good, on par, or not so good), the better it is for everyone. It is fresh on the mind and you can review what happened objectively. It's also less likely for the positive things to get lost, as most performance reviews are an excuse for the manager to focus on the negative. Biggest thing is the corporate mindset that encourages managers to be more involved in their employees' work lives. This will also separate out the good managers - those who bring out the best in their employees - from the others.

agouge
agouge

This method can be taken to extremes. As an instance, an master Excel spreadsheet that all supervisers, etc. have to fill out on a weekly basis, showing progress of projects, employee involvement and running the gamut of anything related. Now imagine that this cuts into their own productivity and thus "marks" thems a couple of points lower.

miacovelli
miacovelli

Many managers do not like to give feedback. Taking away a formal process that managers need to follow needs to be replaced with something else that managers need to follow. If not, this is an "easy out" for those who do not like to give (or get) feedback. Giving feedback is a skill that not everyone has, and that few companies offer training to acquire. However, it is one of the most important skills a manager can have. After all, a manager is only as good as his/her team. And without proper feedback (positive & negative), you will not optimize performance. My main point here is that the replacement process needs to be well defined.

rmitchell
rmitchell

After a couple of decades in the corporate world I similarly remember performance reviews as sheer torture, whether I was the reviewer or reviewee. A punctiliar review annually attempts to reduce an employee's value to a number. Things are not that simple. Add to that the horrific practices of some HR departments such as forced ranking (forcing managers to give unsatisfactory reviews to a predetermined proportion of employees) and the draconian "yank and rank" practices of utterly dysfunctional companies like the infamous Enron, and HR winds up being the engine of creating an adversarial relationship between employers and employees, even though the putative goals of HR management include improving employee morale and thereby productivity. In other companies the annual review is so disconnected from the actual job someone does it becomes an exercise in pencil-whipping, the time-honored tradition of filling the arbitrary squares needed to get past the review so we can get back to our real jobs. HR departments are aware of the inefficiencies and in many cases the abitrariness, artificiality, and disconnect from reality of many aspects of the review process, so in a typical Corporate environment the review process is modified or the company switches to a new performance review methodology or system. Breaking away from annual reviews may be a refreshing change. Let's hope Adobe makes the best of it - perhaps some new best practices can be written in to obsolete the Procrustean methodologies widely used in business today.

WardChristman
WardChristman

Especially for the younger generation whom are accustomed to real time feedback and compensation. I suggested monthly "check ins" with quarterly salary reviews - instead of 4% per year, 1% per quarter will be better received by most and definately the younger generations! Sales people are measured monthly and you can bet they keep their eye on the ball (performance metrics) at least weekly! For any size company, regularly measuring employee and business performance is paramount to ensuring opportunities for improvement... the old saying is very true "if you don't measure it you cannot improve it", just measuring people's effectiveness regularly improves performance and if proper notes are kept (in a system) the annual or quarterly salary reviews should be a simple summary of what's happened w/o changes or surprises! Ward Christman - HR Technology and HR Metrics Expert

hamguin
hamguin

Formal reviews set on a fixed schedule came about, in part, as an attempt to prompt those managers who were not good at keeping their team informed on how they were performing, to do better at it. Of course, the managers who were not good at giving informal feedback to their teams also do a poor job in formal reviews. And, it is just this sort of manager who gives everyone such a bad taste for the review process to start with. The right way to deal with it is the path Adobe is taking: support the people who already do a good job with informal reviews, and train the managers who are not good at it. Feedback is most effective when timed as closely as possible to the behavior you seek to encourage (or discourage).

tghow1
tghow1

I hope they thought of big picture and ensure they manage this process; otherwise it will most likely be as successful as their failed review process. A formal, or informal process, can only be successful if it???s managed effectively. How will they ensure the new informal feedback is being implemented properly? Will the employee have a method to counter feedback he/she does not agree with? How will merit increased be justified? How does the disciplinary process or performance improvement process get handled? How will a new manager taking over a department review the team's performance? As I said before, if it's managed effectively, and everyone buys into this, it could be successful. My concern here is they've now removed a trackable measure because they apparently couldn't manage it correctly. Let's face it, informal feedback can, and should, be provided even if there is a formal review process in place. Why not focus on why the formal process failed and try to change those issues? It could be a training issue for managers or perhaps a review process that was too long and made managers feel it was nothing more than a PIA to get done.

sgmi08-23654843662438498030214489645719
sgmi08-23654843662438498030214489645719

Instant and real-time feedback? Are they emailed a Daily Digest of their performance? Is the manager resolving to stick his head out the door more often to say "Good Job, Johnson!"? Will every desk have a Red Light/Green Light that the manager controls? I'd be interested to know how they are implementing this new system.

GranJuan
GranJuan

When we left corporate insurance jobs and formed our own consulting group 12 years ago we decided to forego the annual performance review process in favor of giving feedback as needed. We're glad to see that Adobe is following suit - we spend our valuable time focusing on delivering what our clients need rather than spending an inordinate amount of time filling out forms and agonizing over what grade everyone gets. Its obvious who is making the extra efforts and those who are not.

ramdrcorp
ramdrcorp

How about instant and real-time raises for performers? And let's not forget instant and real-time pay docks for underachievers (but I doubt Adobe hires them).

StuartRothrock
StuartRothrock

I do not mind the formal process - either giving or getting yearly reviews. It is merely a formal process that I think is required to insure as md032 stated. If either you, your manager or your employees are even a bit shocked, someone hasn't done their job properly throughout the year. I knew where I stood and so did my employees throughout the year.

mitchell8608
mitchell8608

I believe yearly reviews are cop outs for managers. They can raise petty issues to reduce the importance of a worker's performance and use that to limit an earned pay raise or grade improvement. Employees should have the right to know when they have done something wrong at the time it happened not have to wait upwards of a year before finding out someone was upset about something they did almost 12 months ago. Well done Adobe now let us see the rest of them follow suit.

ann.foster
ann.foster

The cost of Perf Reviews is wholly disproportionate to the value it creates in the company. I would rather see that time being allocated to a community task that make everyone feel better about the value their company has to them and others. And let the individual choose the activity they get involved in. Not to be measured against, but to encourage greater social responsibility rather than focussing on ourselves. Everyone know it is a managers job to is to supervise and assess the work of direct reports or other supplying teams and to take corrective action the hour they spot a mismatch in expectations. It is also a manager's job to keep everyone in the loop and to explain the value of the role / task and to continually thank people for their effort, never as a self aggradising act, but always as part of a regular dialogue about the work. However, many line managers don't have a supervisory role over their direct reports, instead the work requires their direct reports to operate in local or virtual collaborative teams and to get on with their job as the joint task requires. Typically these teams self regulate the management of the activities and approaches taken. But not always, which is why line mangers need to call people and ask how things are going and invite an exchange of information, views, experience, preferences etc. The feedback that meant the most to me in 40yrs work was when I inherited a team of nightsitters when my manager left for a new job. They were fieldworkers covering about 100 mile radius and were not paid to attend any office meetings .... !! so I called each nightsitter at least once a week and asked how things were with their client and with them. One of the nightsitters was a retired matron who was very old style in her exacting standards and my manager had found her really intimidating, so left her with the same client for 6 years. In no time at all I needed the nightsitters to be more flexible about moving onto other clients otherwise I had to turn down new requests. The matron resisted it to start with, but eventually was an absolute gem and helped to establish really effective routines with new and existing clients. When she had to retire at 65 she was sorely upset. But her feedback was that in her 50 years working life, I'd made the last 2 the very best. Nice to be complemented but "why was that?" I asked. "Because you took the time to ask about the clients first and then us, every week. And you called the clients to ask if we could do more to help. That told us all you cared about us and then you made a difference to clients and nightsitters by negotiating with us all to change schedules and get a mix of new and ongoing clients to ensure noone who needed the service went without help when it was most needed. That changed my job in a way I wasn't too happy about initially, but you made the changes with as much support as possible and it made the last two years so varied and challenging that they ended up being the most satisfying work I had ever done.You were also the best manager I ever had." Praise indeed from a battle axe of a matron! But that praise remains the one I value the most, not just for the surprise or the feelgood factored in being genuinely complemented, but for the validation that remote management has to reach out and be there for staff, clients and the work being done. None of the nightsitters had anual performance reviews, they had them at least once a week and as a result, their assignments grew more challenging and more satisfying because I knew their strengths and both they and their clients could tell me how we could do better. Emphasis always on the we, not on what the assigned resouce did/will do, which is where the emphasis of performance reviews is focused. In my experience, when we, our direct reports and our customers are joinly responsible for outcomes, we get better results. Nightsitter clients feedback had never been better, nor bettered than through this period. Hence the matron's compliment taught me that what I was doing really was the right thing. Most important feedback, ever. So always ask yourself if you, your manager, and your customer are doing the right thing? The answer is always recalibrate something to take it from ok to feelgood.

md032
md032

Isn't the yearly performance review there to ensure managers follow a process? It's a governance mechanism that ensures performance management isn't based on personal taste but rather corporate objectives. Sure, it doesn't work - but who is watching the managers in this approach?

prashant_dubey
prashant_dubey

I guess the process sometimes is very time consuming and then it solely depends on the manager to rate everyting at once based on the appraisee's remarks, which is not very fair,. I thik its nice strategy to have it in continuous form. But then it must be logged somewhere constantly. Which is again very challenging.

michael.w.newman
michael.w.newman

It is great to see that Adobe has decided to abolish annual performance reviews. I hope that many more will follow their lead. In my opinion, they were used mainly to kick the employee rather than encourage. If a boss does not know what his/her staff are doing and how they are performing on a day to day basis, he /she should not be in that job.

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

I noticed a correlation of amount of paperwork required to rating. This manifests itself by hardly anyone receiving a "poor" or "exceptional" at year end.

nate.irvin
nate.irvin

I've never had direct reports, so I might have a different perspective if I had to manage reviews, but doing my own personal review each year I actually kind of enjoy. It gives a chance to evaluate where I'm at and where I want to improve. I think the built-in goal-setting and achieving that a review offers is important. And I actually like that HR bases my raise off my review; it makes my compensation feel less arbitrary. That said, I do think there's a lot of fluff and unnecessary formality in the review process. For my annual review I have to fill out a few pages of very ambiguous open-ended questions that in the end all seem to ask the same thing. Then I have to give numerical grades to my accomplishments and certain performance categories. I don't enjoy any of *that*. I think a review should consist of three paragraphs - "how did you do on last year's goals", "what did you accomplish this year", and "what are your goals for next year", and you can be as detailed or as terse as you personally need.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

Oh, pretty much, these days. Whether we want to use "Moral Mazes" by Robert Jackall or "The Management Trap" by Dr. Chris Argyris to find the core sources of the problem, it's all about lies, cover ups and deception. The annual evaluation isn't a tool, the managers are. There is only one real reason for managers: To facilitate the work for the workers by providing the resources. Unfortunately, management has become an end in itself in sort of a narcissistic sociopathic sort of way. Much of the problem is trying to adapt to Generation Whine in the workplace, now that they have invaded it, but the problem has been brewing amongst the Boomers since the 1960s. It's all the same thing: Have your say, go your way and do nothing because they think that just discussing the problem is solving the problem. Now it's so much worse in IT: There is a continuing decline in the competence of the work force, but the pursuit of greed in the form of ROI drives the pursuit of outsourcing and looking for the bottom line in the short term. This contradicts the goal of the Annual Review which is supposed to be a method to insure quality workmanship. Well, folks, no one cares about quality any more -- you just generate a profit, take the money and run. And if you can't prove beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt that you contributed to the bottom line in a significant way, you are at risk of being booted out; and the performance review sits there waiting to get you.

Glenn from Iowa
Glenn from Iowa

Wow, you have really solidified for me the main reason for periodic, formal reviews with the employee. Yes, managers should give feedback, ideally throughout the year. I have been fortunate to have pretty good managers throughout my career, but it sounds like just the opposite is the norm. "Neither of these need involve the employee, however." If I had a poor manager, and that manager could submit my review to HR or management or whatever entity controls career progress and raises without my input, that would be truly scary to me! The formal review process serves to protect the employee by allowing him or her to have insight into what the manager is putting in your record and giving you a chance to discuss it before signing off. Now I realize it may be rare that you can change what is said about you, but at least you know if your manager is feeding lies to those above her and might have more incentive to change jobs.

joeller
joeller

monthly check-ins are a good concept. However, it has turned out to be much harder to implement. My manager is also VP of the company and also on several contracts as a developer. While I am locatedon one base, he may be at home, at the company main office, at a company satellite office, at a different base, or on travel. So there is never time for our monthly meeting. (Another issue is that this is non-chargeable time as well so it is hard to make time without using leave). 4% raise??? I wish. With the DoD contracts I am working, I have not seen anything greater than a 3% raise since 1999. In many cases less than that. And I am considered one of the company's more valued employees.

Glenn from Iowa
Glenn from Iowa

Well from other sources, it sounds like they are implementing what they call continuous appraisal tools, which give performance feedback on an ongoing basis. Annual salary raises probably will continue, but after tracking the performance on a regular basis, which sounds to me like a better idea than taking a snapshot once a year. But for those who have not experienced a truly effective HR department like I have (and it sounds like that is 90%+ of workers), it's hard to imagine an annual review process that is useful and effective. My ideal review period would be once per quarter, but regardless of whether the review is annual or on an ongoing basis or something in-between, having an HR department and managers that "get it," i.e. know how to focus on goals and motivating employees, is essential to having an effective formal or informal review process.

Glenn from Iowa
Glenn from Iowa

Yeah, I would have been nice to have a little more detail, or at least a link to the source she used. However, it appears most people are quoting Devina Sengupta at the ET Bureau in this article: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-03-27/news/31245058_1_adobe-systems-appraisal-feedback It appears they started the process in India and are still developing it, but they started with intensive coaching for managers in Bangalore that they are planning to implement globally. Rather than looking at feedback, they will be looking at "feed-forward," which the writer of the article traced back to management guru Marshall Goldsmith's theory on how instant and real-time feedback can boost performance. The next phase involves "leadership essentials" for top brass, which they admit may require different continuous appraisal tools, which have yet to be developed. It will be interesting to see how they end up implementing this.

Ternarybit
Ternarybit

In most companies 'governance' is defined by HR and performance reviews become a silly little thing that gets attention one month out of the year where it might effect their annual bonus. In a perfect world, yes, performance management works like you've defined.

toni.bowers
toni.bowers

was from a service I subscribe to. If I had listed the link, you would have had to subscribe as well.