Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Would Your Employees Cheer If You Eliminated Formal Performance Evaluations?

Why not do away with formal performance reviews inside your busy, growing accounting firm? Go ahead….. contemplate it, research how to do it, talk it over inside your firm with lots of people and then give it a try.

I’ve been an advocate of simplifying performance feedback for quite some time. It has been my observation that firms often make their process way too complicated and labor intensive. Too many people end up providing feedback on too may people. I have talked to partners who are filling out rating forms (with comments) on ten or more people. That’s a huge time investment. Eventually, the people providing the feedback dread “evaluation time” and the people receiving the feedback dread it, too.

Some of my clients are now trying the Keep Stop Start method and it is working well for them. But wait, many experts are now asking, why not do away with formal performance feedback sessions altogether?

There have been some heated debates about the merits of eliminating performance reviews but one large company has done it – Adobe, with over 11,000 people.

Adobe moved from yearly performance rankings to frequent “check-ins” where managers provide employees targeted coaching and advice. What a concept, managers continually talk to people!

When Adobe was considering the move away from formal feedback, the company posted a blog on the company’s intranet about the topic. Employees devoured the post, making it one of the most-read pieces in the history of Adobe’s intranet. Company-wide discussions ensued about the employees’ dissatisfaction with the review process.

Adobe’s VP of People and Places (Donna Morris) thought it was time for some disruptive change. Since the change, managers have more say in their people’s salaries and merit increases. The company’s aim is to give managers the skills, authority and responsibility so they can act much as if they were running their own business. Take some time and read more about the Adobe story here.

What do your accounting firm team members actually think about your process? Why not ask them and begin a conversation on how to make the process better and the managers better, all while providing dialogue to help the employee advance their career. It might be time for some disruptive change inside your firm.


  • "One key to surviving in a world of disruption, where the external environment is changing at lightning speed, is to change the game internally."
  • Randy Ottinger

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