Thursday 12 April 2012

#BersinIMPACT: Blowing up performance reviews


   I only managed to catch the final session yesterday but it was a good one.

We started with Bersin’s research suggesting that 70% of companies follow a coaching and development vs a competitive assessment approach to performance management.

It’s a potentially useful focus given that organisations with high quality development plans generate twice the revenue per employee as organisations with poor or ineffective development plans.

Plus moving away from focusing on the performance ‘score’ makes the process more relevant for people.  Bersin see this, together with simplifying the process and bringing more people into the process eg through the use of social tools, as the key opportunities for improving appraisals.


I largely agree that this is the / an opportunity for performance management, though I’m surprised by Bersin’s findings that 70% of organisations are already focused on this track.  I certainly don’t think many are as advanced as Kelly Services which provided the session case study.

Kelly had previously put too much focus into PMP – performance management ‘process’.  Ratings took over from authentic discussion.  But actually, this didn’t even mean that the ratings themselves were particularly sound – eg some managers never gave a ‘5’, whereas others only gave this out.  It also took a huge amount of time.

The organisation therefore removed compensation decisions from this process and instead developed an employee led process in which employees call for performance review meetings (employees are also responsible for maintaining their own employee profiles and Kelly mine these so they can look for people internally before they have to look externally).

Pay is now based upon talent reviews and subsequent total reward reviews in which group leaders come together.  These leaders know each other and know each others’ employees.  And they talk about each others employees.


I though the most interesting question in the Q&A was one directed back at HR – suggesting that the HR function itself may be the main barrier to ‘blowing up’ performance management, and how organisations can best engage HR in making this sort of change. 

Terry Hauer who was delivering the Kelly Services presentation didn’t have an immediate answer for this.  I think I do, but it will have to wait for another time.  And I agree it’s likely to be a key issue for organisations that want to make performance management work.


More from Bersin Impact 2012 later on today / tomorrow….



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  1. I agree this assessment can work, but only if company is sable to really use its potential. One friend of mine who works for a global consulting company told me, that although this strategy looks good on the paper, their evaluation meetings produce often very arbitrary results, because some managers are more eager to criticize or praise employees.

  2. Absolutely - I think that's a big part of the reason that Kelly have moved away from this approach - the talent review meetings involve more callibration across a bigger group of managers...

    Thanks for the comment David.


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