Death to Performance Reviews!

Posted by Richard Moran.



HR professionals may be rolling the eyes with a sigh.  Controlling managers may slam a fist on the desk.  But cutting annual performance reviews out of the organizational psyche makes a ton of sense.  It makes business sense and, why do something year after year that everyone hates?  Ask Accenture.

In an announcement that sent shivers through the world of “we’ve always done it this way”,  Accenture eliminated the annual performance review.  The act was compared to eliminating a bout with the DMV each year or never again going for the annual teeth cleaning and check up. On the “can this be true?” side, when the review process was eliminated it was like, ding dong, the wicked witch is dead.

As a former Accenture partner I can attest to how the annual review process was viewed.  For those receiving the review, it was viewed as a make-or-break annual assessment that may or may not be accurate and took an enormous amount of time.  For those giving the reviews, it was seen as an annual series of torture-like meetings and sessions with results that may or may not be accurate and took an enormous amount of time.  There was plenty of agreement about the onerous nature of the process and not as much agreement on the actual assessments that were given.  So why continue to do it?  Now we know that Accenture will not continue the process, and good for them.

I wasn’t in on any of the meetings but the list of reasons why Accenture would make such a bold move is probably long.

First, there is a real business reason – do the math.  Accenture has 330,000 employees.  Assume that the time spent on each performance review is one hour (a low estimate) and that two people (the reviewee and the reviewer) are involved.  Next, assume that since Accenture people bill their time and that the billing rate is $100/hour (way low).  Then the annual cost (at the very least) looks something like this formula:

333,000 employees x 2 people in each session = 660,000 hours x billing rate of $100/hour = DO THE MATH.

Second, and more importantly, why continue a practice that no one likes? A practice that is seen as an annual ritual of pain and may or may not be effective. Finally, someone asked the really hard question, “Why are we doing this?”  And the answer was truthful.  So the annual review is dead there.

This is not to say that feedback is not a good thing.  We should all look for some sort of feedback every day.  The best source of feedback is our own inner self.  People generally know how they perform and what should be improved.  Feedback is still critically important.

We should ask others for feedback too but that doesn’t have to be in a formal review situation.  The best feedback is usually in the hallway after a presentation or in the car on the way home from a sales call or after a meeting.  Listen to that feedback and add you own inner analysis and you will be a better performer.

I am proud of Accenture for doing what everyone knows should be done in all organizations.

Take a Cue from Consultants — Tell the Truth and Never Miss Deadlines

Posted by Richard Moran.



Leadership can get confusing especially during times of turmoil.  You hear it’s an art; it’s a science. You hear you need to play the hard-ass; you hear you need to be an empathic listener. You hear leadership is developed through training.  You hear it’s innate. You hear the necessity to move from a manager to a leader.

Leadership lessons can be gleaned from Attila the Hun, Jesus, Ted Talks, Abraham Lincoln, Lao Tzu, Homer Simpson, and many others and from lots of sources. Prospective leaders are told to be firm, be empathetic, be inspirational, to lean in, to move quickly, to wait and see, and above all to be themselves.  Leadership lessons are like a smorgasbord to be gorged on.

So what is the leading in turmoil answer? Given all this advice and information, how is one supposed to lead in uncertain times? After many years as a consultant, and now as a college president, I have learned one effective way to lead is to lead like a management consultant. It may sound counterintuitive.  Consultants are known for showing up, borrowing your watch, telling you the time, and disappearing. There is no leadership in that behavior.

Hold on just a minute.

Consultants are often brought into tough situations. We can we learn about leadership from consultants even when the consultant is not talking about leadership. I suspect the consultants don’t even know it, but there are three simple facts about consultants that leaders should adopt in times of turmoil.

  1. Consultants tell the truth. The maxim is that consultants can state what no one else will say because the consultant will still have a job tomorrow. In fact, that is a major reason why consultants are hired – they do tell the truth whether it be based on analysis, observation or research. Leaders must tell the truth no matter how hard that reality may be. To be credible and speak the truth in an organization is to be a leader.
  2. Consultants don’t miss deadlines. It may require staying up all night for weeks, but by hook or crook, it will be done on time. It’s a lesson that newbies in consulting learn early – miss a deadline and you will be fired.  Leaders set examples and set expectations and meeting deadlines is a good one to set.  A “whatever it takes” mentality is one that can serve a leader well.
  3. Consultants bring hope. Hope is delivered in the form of the prospect that things will get better, that change will be implemented, that the deadwood will finally be revealed and that we might succeed. That is exactly the same thing that a leader needs to convey – hope

Many, many business consultants roam the universe. The good ones are aware of the value that is possible when they bring all three of these traits to the party.  These are the consultants that make a difference. For the leader who wants to make a difference, it might be time to borrow the leadership watch from the consultant. I learned from consulting and consultants, and it is now one way to lead in times of turmoil.

Why Do Job Interviewers Talk So Much?

Posted by Richard Moran.


It happens every day.  You are the one being interviewed but the interviewer is too busy talking to ask you any questions.  How will they ever get to know you if the interviewer is too busy talking?  Can you say, “I don’t care if you were a high school football star”?   Or, “It’s too bad your kids are sick but I want to tell you about me”.  How will you ever get to tell your great story without interrupting the interviewer and sounding rude?  What if your time is up and you hardly had a chance to talk?  Then, when they finally stop talking the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions?”

What you want to say at this point is, “No! I don’t have any questions.  What about you?  Do you have any questions?  You haven’t asked me any yet!”

No one wants to endure a stress interview but we all want the chance to describe how great we can be and how we will help the organization.   But, as the candidate, how do you turn the monologue into a dialogue?  How do you turn the subject back on yourself?  Here are some tips from HR managers and men and women right out of college:

  • Give it time but don’t let the time get away.  No need to panic in the first five minutes.  The interviewer may be breaking the ice.  Glance at the clock or take a peek at the interviewer’s watch.  If you are more than half way in and you still haven’t had time to talk, it is time for an interruption.
  • Steer the conversation toward you. If the interviewer is blabbing on about their own college or work experience, that’s an opening for you to butt in with a segue into your own background.
  • Don’t start asking questions too early. That time will come.  If you start asking questions right up front you may not get the podium back.  Let the interviewer ask the questions.
  • No tangents. Don’t encourage conversations that will go on and on and not be relevant to the job opening.  The interviewer may be talking about the World Cup and you may be a fan but don’t throw fuel on that fire.  Be cordial and engaged but then go silent so the interviewer can get down to business.

In talking to those same HR managers and young men and women right out of college, there are several hypotheses about why this phenomenon exists.  Some reasons are not pleasant.

  • The interviewer flunked interview school. Any one who attends a seminar on interview skills is warned about speaking too much.  Among many other reasons, the candidate is just not interested.  For some, the temptation of a captive audience is just too much.
  • There is really no job open. Why bother with learning about the candidate if the interviewer knows a job opening does not exist?  A better question is, “Why have the interview at all?”  It is probably a waste of time.
  • Sometimes the interviewer is more nervous than the candidate.  When that is the case, the candidate could be in for a long story of the interviewers career trajectory.

Sometimes it seems that the interviewer did all the talking but that may not be true.  Avoid the trap when the interviewer says something like, “Let’s not have an interview.  Let’s just chat.”  Avoid that trap and be aware that the “chat” is still an interview and you are still a candidate.

When the interviewer drones on and on and time is slipping away, it is OK to interrupt.  Politely say, “Thanks for all of that information, can I now tell you about how my experience relates to this job?  I think you will like it.”

Then be aware of your own voice.  The only thing worse than an interviewer who talks too much is the candidate who talks so much that the job slips away.