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Adobe Proves That Feedback–Not Performance Review–Delivers Results and Happiness..And Why You Should

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

In 2011, software leader Adobe Systems figured out their annual performance review wastes tons of time and energy for little gain in performance.

And worse…  The dreaded process totally demotivated and disengaged employees and managers alike—with its required “stacked rankings” that pitted team members against one another. Some left the company because of it.

What Adobe did  Unlike 99% of companies–who see it as a necessary evil–they dumped performance reviews altogether. Today 13,500 Adobe employees and their managers have a whole new approach–the “Check-In,” an informal system of real-time feedback. Donna Morris, Senior VP of People and Places, now reports that the decision has paid off big—in employee satisfaction, lowered turnover, and huge leaps in productivity.

And other bold companies like Medtronic Medtronic, with 37,500 employees today, also dropped its traditional performance management system in favor of continuous feedback, coaching, and development. Why? Employees were diverting massive time completing their assigned preparation for the annual ritual—doing self-appraisal & documenting what they had accomplished. Some people were simply not as skilled at self-aggrandizement as others. Plus, teams were different and the forced rankings weren’t fair. Now everyone talks a lot more often—with a focus on improving future work. Their new approach is called “Performance Acceleration.”

Motorola Solutions, with their 14,000 employees did the same in 2013. And so did KPMG UK, Kelly Solutions, Square, and others. They have tossed once-a-year feedback and adopted everyday feedback.

And some are moving in that direction While some haven’t completely eliminated these formal reviews for the purpose of pay decisions, many other Fortune 50 corporations in high-tech businesses have de-fanged the toxic annual ritual by dramatically increasing the number of transparent feedback discussions. Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, eBay, and Google have branded their cultures with a new level of openness, honesty, and helpfulness to build employee performance, careers, and morale. Even companies with controversial cultures like Apple tout their value of “Fearless Feedback” across all levels and functions.

Tectonic shift What is happening here? A tectonic shift toward everyday feedback that can deliver way faster results and satisfy the ravenous appetites of employees today for continuous coaching and an answer to the never-ending question: How am I doing?

Build an everyday feedback culture People in your company may want the same things as employees in these bold companies who have removed the traditional performance review.  Your path to success is in building an everyday feedback culture in which people get over their feedback fears and discomfort, challenge their beliefs and assumptions about feedback, learn some simple methods, get started, and get used to the huge benefits of frequent, helpful, honest feedback.

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