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Performance management: Will changing the name change the game?

May 9, 2019

A Reinvented Mindset
Layering new technology over existing systems, abolishing ratings, tweaking legacy processes or increasing their frequency—all these approaches essentially do the same thing in new ways. The paradigm shift we need for transforming PM in today’s new world of work is to do new things in new ways. Redesigning PM isn’t about new processes, models, or shiny tools—it’s about a new purpose and mindset.

Why Rename Performance Management?
As organizations start trying out different methods to drive this mindset shift toward a new and refreshed purpose focused on development and growth, many wonder: Is it possible to expect HR, leaders, teams, and individuals to do something absolutely different if we still call it by the same name? To introduce and reinforce a new meaning and mindset for performance management, organizations and solution providers alike are toying with new terms and naming conventions for performance management.

The Changing Names of PM Solutions
According to a recent Performance Management Solution Provider study, 46 percent of providers no longer use the term “performance management” in the title of their solution offerings.3 Several providers are instead calling their offerings “development,” “enablement,” “coaching,” or “empowerment.” While this certainly reflects the changing mindsets of organizations, it can make it confusing for potential buyers of technology solutions to identify who actually provides performance management solutions.


Source: Bersin, Deloitte Consulting, 2019.

Humans at the Center
Whether renaming and/or reinventing performance management, organizations should focus on keeping humans in the center of the process. A human-centered performance management approach leads with the purpose of “enhancing performance” continuously and shifts away from “assessing performance” once a year. This approach is:


Source: Bersin, Deloitte Consulting, 2019.

Organizations that move to this state have superior business and workforce outcomes (see the following figure).


Source: Bersin, Deloitte Consulting, 2019.

Examples of Nomenclature for PM Approaches
When a large conglomerate redesigned performance management after a history of over 100 years in operation, they led with the philosophy, “You can’t expect people to do something different if you don’t call it something different.” A new mindset requires a new nomenclature. Several organizations we spoke with are exploring new names that reflect the ideology driving the change in their approach to PM and reinforce the change in meaning and mindset that they want to drive. Here are some examples if you’re looking for ideas:

1. At Deloitte, 4 years into a journey of reinventing our approach, we call our system iRPM.4 Many people know that RPM stands for “reinventing performance management.” But fewer know that the “i” in iRPM stands for “interim”—a subtle reinforcement that this is a people process: we will listen, and our process will evolve based on sensing and feedback from our people.

2. Gap, a global apparel retailer, calls its process GPS,5 a double-pronged name to hint on how the satellite navigation system guides you to your destination, through different paths. GPS also expands to Grow-Perform-Succeed, inspired by Dr. Carol Dweck’s book Mindset.

3. Cargill, a global conglomerate that provides food, agriculture, financial, and industrial products and services, calls their process “Everyday Performance Management.”6 The messaging implied in the use of Everyday is self-explanatory, intended to drive a process that is intrinsically and seamlessly embedded in the everyday flow of work.

4. Patagonia, an American retailer of outdoor adventure clothing and equipment, calls its process “Regenerative Performance.”7 They removed the word management, which also aligns with Deloitte’s recommendation that PM should have an increased focused on fueling performance and a decreased focus on command-and-control style management. The term regenerative employs the philosophy that performance can reform radically through continuous coaching and support on business and personal goals.

5. Adobe, a global leader in digital marketing and digital media solutions, calls its process “Check-Ins,” which completely steps away from the terms performance and management.7 The goal of Check-Ins was to develop an approach to feedback that was culturally aligned and resulted in a more engaged and motivated workforce. The naming convention underscores the idea that feedback is something that should occur regularly and informally.

The Power of Words
Whether you’re currently reinventing performance management with a human focus or are likely to do so in the near future, the key to transformation is to lead with humans in the center and think about how you can enable performance in this radically new world. It is time to first think differently, and then act differently. Changing nomenclature can help reinforce that mindset shift. But renaming alone will not generate the outcomes you need, unless you rethink your processes holistically to enable performance in the flow of work. If you’re only changing the naming convention without fundamentally changing your approach, you may just be putting lipstick on a pig! Oink!

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.
–Benjamin Franklin8

If your organization is innovating in the area of performance management, we’d love to hear from you! Contact Kathi Enderes (kenderes@deloitte.com) and Nehal Nangia (nnangia@deloitte.com) to share the nomenclature you use for performance management.

Kathi Enderes , PhD, is a vice president and the talent & workforce research leader at Bersin™, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

Nehal Nangia is the lead member advisor for performance management, workforce planning, succession, and talent management at Bersin™, Deloitte Consulting LLP.


1 High-Impact Performance Management research, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2019.
2 The “Net Promoter Score” (NPS®) is based on the fundamental perspective that every company’s customers can be divided into three categories: promoters, passives and detractors. Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.
3Performance Management Solutions: Market Findings, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Kathi Enderes, PhD, and Matthew Shannon, 2019.
4 “Reinventing Performance Management,” Harvard Business Review / Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall, April 2015, https://hbr.org/2015/04/reinventing-performance-management.
5 “Gap Inc.: Ditching Performance Ratings and Annual Reviews,” The Rebel Playbook for Employee Engagement, https://www.rebelplaybook.com/bonus-plays/ditching-performance-ratings-and-annual-reviews-gap.
6 “What Google, Adobe, and Cargill Changed About Their Performance Management Strategies,” HR Daily Advisor / Steffen Maier, November 3, 2017, https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2017/11/03/google-adobe-cargill-changed-performance-management-strategies/.
7Reengineering for Agility: How Adobe Eliminated Performance Appraisals, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Stacia Sherman Garr, 2013.
8 “The 4 stages of success,” CNBC.com / Christopher Connors, March 23, 2017, https://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/23/the-4-stages-of-success.html.

Originally published at Capital H blog