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Talent and Performance Development
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Scooped by Deb Nystrom, REVELN

Adobe’s New Approach to Abolishing the Yearly Performance Appraisal: The Details

Adobe’s New Approach to Abolishing the Yearly Performance Appraisal: The Details | Talent and Performance Development | Scoop.it

Adobe is blazing a trail.  Rosemary Arriada-Keiper, Head of Rewards at Adobe reviews several of the compensation details of their new program.

1)  Has Adobe completely done away with performance appraisals (evaluating past performance)?

Rosemary: Yes, we no longer have performance appraisals.  While we still believe we need to evaluate performance, we believe this should be done on an on-going basis through regular feedback provided during “check-ins”.  These are on-going discussions between employees and managers about goals, status against them, what is working, what is not, whether goals need to be modified or reprioritized given the environment, etc.   ...These “check-ins” are not written. ...We encourage at a minimum that "check-ins" happen quarterly but we typically see monthly in practice.

2) Has Adobe completely stopped giving performance ratings?

Rosemary:  Correct, we no longer provide a rating.  ... because of  “check-ins” both managers and employees should have a very good sense of performance by the time managers need to make compensation recommendations.

4)   You mention there are rewards for key talent.  How are key/high performers selected...? 

Rosemary:  We have a separate process for that whereby discussions about key talent happen with leadership in the respective organizations.  We do identify who they are and they are “tagged” in the system as Key Talent (yes/no) but no rating per se. 

Key talent receives stock although occasionally they get cash.  Both managers and individual contributors are eligible.  The total pool is no more than 2% of the employee population.

5)  What has been the response from both managers and employees about this change in program?


Rosemary: Very positive. There’s lots of relief around not having to write annual performance reviews and label employees a certain way.  That said, the conversations managers have with their employee has had to shift from “these are the guidelines given to me by HR [to} push[ing}  managers to own their decisions and be able to articulate them (and defend if challenged). 

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Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

Adobe made a huge jump away from their reviled stack ranking system, a move that even raised their stock prices.  

These are four (4) highlights from a longer article by Compensation Café shows how the revamped review, now called "check-in" without documentation, and the compensation system is now handled at Adobe.   Gone are the rankings, the yearly appraisal and ratings.

According to the head of "Rewards" at Adobe, it's been received quite positively.   It's certainly a step in the right direction.  It isn't really all that new.  The APOP or "Annual Piece of Paper" process described by an article in Fast Company in 1998 is very similar.  Here's the link.   I'll have more to say about it in my next blog post on REVELN.com.

~  Deb

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Scooped by Deb Nystrom, REVELN

The Pros And Cons Of Forced Rankings: A Manager's Perspective

The Pros And Cons Of Forced Rankings: A Manager's Perspective | Talent and Performance Development | Scoop.it

...on Forbes.com there's been a spirited dialogue around the controversial management technique known as "stacking," or forced ranking. Here's one manager's reasoned, hands-on perspective."

An article in Vanity Fair by Kurt Eichenwald (“Microsoft’s Downfall: Inside The Executive E-mails and Cannibalistic Culture That Felled A Tech Giant”) triggered recent discussion.  Forbes subsequently featured posts including


These...touched a chord in the business community...generat[ing]  ...close to 400,000 readers and well over 300 reader comments. 

As a manager with MassMutual Financial Group (a well respected Fortune 500 company), I did see some benefits to forced ranking, though in the end I felt these benefits were outweighed by the managerial problems it caused. 

  • The system did force managers to have hard conversations with employees that they might otherwise have avoided.   ... In a forced ranking system, managers – and employees – have no place to hide.  It literally forces performance issues to be addressed; for an organization that wants to tighten or formalize its management processes, I believe the system can have benefits.

  • it caused employee morale problems.  While the system I managed in was intended to help promote closer linkage between job performance and bonus payouts –...it often felt like the cure was worth than the disease.   As a manager, the discussions I had over many years about the fairness of bonus payouts were not nearly as problematic as those I routinely came to have over end-of-year rankings.  

Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

This perspective is similar to my own experience in the trenches working with managers and HR / OD clients updating or implementing their performance systems.  

The pros and cons are aptly described.  The size of an organization and it's cultural state determine what a forced ranking system will do, ultimately, to performance overall.  

A comment by Dick Grote, a performance management consultant and well-known author on the topic,  (pro-forced ranking with appropriate conditions) is this:  

  • "Forced ranking, used well, has the power to be the most beneficial management procedure an organization can adopt—for the company and its employees alike."

Forced Ranking or "Vitality Curve" systems may have power for a performance "clean-out."  However, what is the lasting nature of that power?  Is is enough to make a forced ranking system worth the Return on Investment (ROI) with the focus being only individuals?

Another point of view from a comment on this excerpted blog post is that,

  • "Team-oriented organizations provide more flexibility, consistency, and growth than organizations based on individual performance."

~ D

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Scooped by Deb Nystrom, REVELN

Four Major Flaws of Force Ranking - i4cp

Four Major Flaws of Force Ranking  - i4cp | Talent and Performance Development | Scoop.it
Forced Ranking or "The Vitality Curve" -  This isn't comparing apples to apples; it's like comparing apples to bacon.

The chart above are the results from a recent i4cp study on performance rankings, published in  Performance Management Playbook: Managing Critical Performance Challenges, showing a sharp decline in both forced rating and forced ranking since 2009.  

  • Two-thirds of companies that did utilize these practices abandoning them - from 49% in 2009 to 14% in 2011.
i4cp's list of shortcomings of force ranking includes:

Companies unwittingly give a huge boost to the competition.

..when Microsoft jettisons their presumed lower-performing employees, they are providing the competition with fresh talent


The bottom 10% isn't always the bottom 10%.

An employee who is in the bottom 10% in a high-performing department might rank much higher when compared to employees in a different department that has lower overall performance. Why should that employee be let go when he or she outperforms those in other fucntions? This isn't comparing apples to apples; it's like comparing apples to bacon.


Forced ranking can be an engagement and innovation killer.
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Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

Dick Grote is still touting forced rankings (in a modified way, but still rank & remove) in his articles and books on performance appraisal and performance management.  

The i4cp consulting group offers reasons why it's not working in 2012.  ~  D

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