You're Getting Sacked in the Morning: Reinventing Performance Management

Ben Barton

You're (Not) Getting Sacked in the Morning: Reinventing Performance Management

Performance management has a bad reputation, too often the phrase is seen as a way of getting rid of difficult staff, or staff that find themselves in a difficult situation. In the US performance management is frequently directly linked to compensation and so the 6 monthly cycle of meetings is ‘gamed’ by employee and employer alike.

So, if performance management is broken, should we fix it or start again. Rahul Varma, Chief Human Resource Officer at Accenture has spent the past two years researching performance management in an organisation with over 115 business units, 370,000 employees across 50+ countries. Accenture is a ‘talent organisation’ with no products other than the humans that deliver the services it provides.

Interesting footnote: Accenture spends £1600 per employee annually on professional development vs just £600 per employee in education (see TDT report).

The 5 areas of Performance Achievement

Rahul has revolutionised performance management focusing on five key areas:

• Bring the best of who we are to what we do

• Focus on the VITAL few priorities

• Create engagement with our team

• Give feedback in the moment

• Take actions to grow

He calls the approach Performance Achievement and runs throughout the year supported by meaningful conversations which use a coaching approach.

The process of Performance Achievement

Performance Achievement starts with knowing yourself (your own strengths and weaknesses) as well as the vital priorities for your role. Throughout the year you focus on engaging with your team to deliver your priorities together. Again, these are supported by on-going meaningful conversations about how best to deliver on these priorities. Finally responsibility is devolved so you take you own action to grow, constantly developing to meet your school’s key priorities.

Performance Achievement and Compensation

In Rahul’s model, performance achievement is still linked to compensation but focused around three loose areas:

o On track – some additional compensation linked to contract

o Behind – base salary

o Ahead – more additional compensation


In order to disseminate such a fundamental shift across 370,000 employees (roughly the number of teachers in England), Rahul, did three key things:

a) He started. Rahul, didn’t wait for the next performance management cycle, he just began to push performance achievement immediately across businesses starting with the 15 members of the senior leadership team.

b) He used coaching training to help to begin meaningful conversations. The training was over 2 days and included at least one ‘live’ coaching session for each leader with a member of staff.

c) Accenture remains ‘agile’ about performance achievement. With a looser structure to supporting staff, Accenture can adapt the process to meet changes across over 50 countries.


While schools aren’t as well resourced (particularly these days) as Accenture, using their research base (not inconsiderable) and their approach, schools and learning communities can begin to make transformational changes to how talent is supported.