Do you hate performance reviews? Employers do too.


Many employees hate performance appraisals. It can be a “soul-crushing exercise” that leads to a lot of stress on both sides of the table — employee and employer. The good news is that employers are starting to moving away from the “rank-and-yank” advocated by Jack Welch and adopted by many law firms. The nascent trend started with companies like Adobe, as reported by SHRM:

Right after review time each year, the HR team saw a disturbing spike in voluntary turnover as disheartened employees—many of them good workers—left the company.

“We hired the very best, and then we brought them into an organization and on an annual basis said, ‘You were exceptional when you came in, but now, relative to your peers, you’re only average.’ That doesn’t feel good,” says Donna Morris, Adobe’s senior vice president of global people and places.

So in 2012, with the support of the company’s leaders, Morris abolished the system. She replaced it with more-frequent, informal conversations between managers and employees—minus the annual ratings.

“We want to make sure everyone has a chance to make an impact. Our process wasn’t enabling us to do that because it was pitting person against person, and we are very team-oriented,” she says.

At the time, Adobe’s move was considered experimental, even risky. However, the number of employers that are either ditching the numerical ranking of employees or tossing out the entire performance review process has grown from 4 percent in 2012 to 12 percent in 2014, according to a Corporate Executive Board (CEB) survey of Fortune 1,000 companies.


 Will more employers move toward discussion-based appraisals? Will law firms? Does it matter?

When push comes to shove, there may not be much difference between the old ways and the new fad. At the end of the day, law firms will still evaluate and rank their partners and associates, as well corporate employers rank their employees. But hopefully, there will be movement toward helping lawyers develop their skill sets, rather than pitting them against their peers.

Read Dori Meinert’s full article at "Is It Time to Put the Performance Review on a PIP?: More companies are choosing a qualitative approach to employee appraisals."