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Donna Morris, Senior Vice President of Global People and Places, Adobe

picture of Donna Morris

Audio: Donna Morris on the one skill that every HR Professional needs to remain competitive in today’s HR environment.

Leaders at Adobe, the digital media giant based in San Jose, Calif., pride themselves on running a forward-thinking company. So why, asked Donna Morris, should managers spend so much time writing reviews that look backward?

“Performance management evolved from the 1950s and 1960s, and the workforce is not the same,” says Morris.

That’s why, in 2012, she made the bold move to eliminate all ranking sessions, labels and long-winded appraisals. She replaced them with a simplified process called Check-in—which boils down to a series of conversations.

Employees work with their managers to set expectations for themselves that align with the company’s business objectives, and managers support them through structured conversations every other month to review objectives, provide feedback and give employees what they need to succeed.

Last year, Morris focused on ensuring seamless integration of the new approach. “We anticipate in 2015 to engrain Check-in as core leadership capability,” she says. —Christina Folz

HR’s Role

If HR owns performance management, it’s incumbent on us to fix or disrupt process. It may seem easier to make tweaks than to eliminate the reviews altogether, but we need to make sure our discipline isn’t holding people back. We must evolve as companies evolve.

Her Advice

Focus on whether this is right for your company. When we integrated this, we were going through a lot of other changes, and it aligned with our broader transformation.

How She’s Making a Difference

Since introducing our new approach, we have had lower attrition than we did prior to making these changes. Our involuntary attrition has actually gone up—but we view that as positive in this context. Our new approach ensures transparency around expectations. It has enabled us to ensure that people know where they stand in real time.


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