Results tagged “Check-in”

Propel People and Business Forward

This blog was originally posted on LinkedIn. 

While attending Adobe’  Digital Marketing Summit this Spring I was fortunate to be able to listen to an interview between Robert Redford and Adobe’s CMO, Ann Lewnes.  I must admit that I was somewhat star struck and drawn in by his charisma.  However, I did not expect to be struck by his words of wisdom.    Since the event, I have reflected on a theme that was threaded throughout the conversation — being creative by taking advantage of opportunities and embracing risks.   Robert Redford was very succinct on his thoughts around risk by saying, “not taking a risk is a risk,” and he went on to explain how taking a risk is what propels you forward.


This resonated with me and triggered my thoughts around how as a leader of the functions focused on attracting, developing, rewarding exceptional people – my team is at the center of  propelling Adobe’s people and business forward.     We have entered the next generation of HR – what we refer to as People Resources at Adobe   – which requires agility and constant adaptation to truly enable employees and the organization to reach the greatest potential.   With this continuous evolution comes risk.  We need to shift our mind set to ‘fail forward’ and ‘fail fast.’  In order to allow people to do their best work, we need to challenge the status quo and iterate quickly when it comes to the way we attract, develop, reward our people and build the environments that promote health and wellness.   I believe these changes to our function are reflective of the opportunities that lie ahead in the profession focused on people.  The threat is not recognizing that change is required.

I find I am constantly pushing myself and my team to think differently and to challenge what we have done in the past.  Each of the leaders across the team are now committed to work on or investigate at least one “1.0” project at any given time.  That is a project that is not fully vetted, may have some inherent risks, but is intended to help our people and the organization reach the greatest potential.   This approach gives us the license to be creative and push the boundaries of what we have in-place today.  Of course it’s not always easy, it’s not always comfortable, and it often requires some form of risk taking.  But we know it results in the best environment for people to be successful.     We have taken this 1.0 approach with a number of People Resources initiatives to date and continue to identify areas where we can quickly execute, iterate, and learn from our mistakes.

Scaling with Technology

Adobe is a global company and we continue to expand through organic growth and acquisitions.  Our 4 hour new employee orientation program across multiple global offices was not scaling with our growth or setting our employees up for success.   We decided to take advantage of innovations in technology and launch a virtual New Employee Success (NES) program.   Through Adobe Connect, we are able to engage consistently and in real-time with employees around the globe through an interactive 90 minute webcast with the ability to show videos, slides, web links, and foster discussion among participants.  Given the scale of this program, we knew there would be some technical glitches in the early days as we introduced the program for the first time.  But we kept pushing forward, fixed the problems, and looked for ways to improve the virtual orientation.  Since Jan. 2014 approximately 250 new employees in North America have participated in our NES program and have found it to be a valuable experience as they launch their careers at Adobe.  We plan to roll-out the program to EMEA and JPAC later this year and will build upon our 1.0 implementation.

New Approach to Performance Management

In 2012 we made the bold decision to abolish the traditional performance review and introduced what we call Check-in at Adobe.  We knew that this was the right decision for our people, and would save approximately 80,000 hours of our managers’ time, but implementing this new approach was a learning process.  What started out as a 1.0 initiative in 2012 has evolved today into a performance management approach that is embraced across the company globally and has piqued interest from other industry leaders.  One of the greatest learnings from this experience is to accept the unknown when making a decision that is right for your people and your business.  Learning-as-you-go is powerful and in fact you can become more agile and receptive to new ideas when a program is not thoroughly planned out.

Centralized Employee Resources

To help enable Check-in, we decided to establish a centralized resource function for employees called the Employee Resource Center (ERC).  The ERC has been established for fielding questions across a range of areas including performance management, career coaching, building managerial capabilities, wellness, and more.  We initially introduced the ERC in North America in 2013 and are poised to launch the function in EMEA and JPAC this year.   We are certain that the ERC will look different in each market and that demonstrates success.  It shows that we are learning from our experiences, iterating, and improving upon our 1.0 implementation.

Since the Digital Marketing Summit, I continue to reflect upon risk-taking and enabling the success of the company.  I certainly had not anticipated that Robert Redford would influence the way I think about People and Places at Adobe!  It reinforced that being open to creativity and new perspectives can happen at any time, you just need to be open to thinking differently; be open to change and taking risks.   As a team at Adobe we are continuing to determine how we can make an impact and propel our people and business forward and ultimately this will continue to re-shape the People and Places function.

What are your experiences in taking risks to help propel your people and business forward?



Lessons Learned with Check-in


We have received many inquiries and some great recognition since we abolished the traditional performance review and introduced what we call “Check- in” at Adobe.  The elimination of the former “annual review process” was not a difficult decision but the navigation of a new approach has required significant change management and ongoing reinforcement.  Given the interest in our adoption of Adobe’s Check-in we thought it would be beneficial to share our views on the top considerations to driving change in performance management, with a focus on enabling people globally for success.  Like most change initiatives this is a journey and not a destination.  As our journey continues, we are focusing on our key learnings to continue to enrich the Check-in approach and use it as a foundation for fostering employee growth, leadership, and talent development.

Starting at the end of 2011 the Adobe business was transforming to provide cutting-edge, real-time products, but the changes in our business model were not reflected in how we evaluated performance, supported employee growth, and cultivated a team environment.  As a result, we made a bold and necessary change to abolish the annual performance review, ratings, rankings and forms that went along with the process.  Looking back we could not be happier about this decision as I outlined in July.  Managers are now having on-going, genuine conversations with their team members; employees are engaged in feedback; we are saving approximately 80,000 hours of our manager’s time in the annual review process; and our voluntary attrition continues to trend downward.

Along our journey, I realize there were a number of key strategic decisions that enabled the success of the Check-in approach.

1.     On-Going Awareness

In establishing the program, we made the conscious decision to develop with our employees, not for them.  We took an iterative approach by providing frequent updates on how the program was being designed and solicited constant feedback.  We invested in employee communications and marketed the new approach across the organizational globally.  We leveraged internal blogs early on to raise awareness and start the dialogue.  We held training sessions with managers to help guide them on how to set expectations, give feedback, and be prepared to make compensation decisions.  And we launched an easy-to-navigate Check-in website that serves as a central place for tools and information.  As we continue to reinforce Check-in internally, we are focused on providing managers and employees with simple resources such as one page reference guides, short video vignettes, and simple action steps to be successful with Check-in.  We continue to reiterate the benefits of Check-in throughout various internal channels and keep it front and center on our internal websites as well as in senior leader communications.

 2.     Employee Resource Center

In conjunction with our move to abolish the annual review process, we were evolving the Human Resources function into the People Resources organization and implementing the Employee Resource Center (ERC) for fielding questions on a range of issues including performance management, career coaching, and building managerial capabilities.   The ERC provides our team leaders and employees the tools, resources, and proactive and reactive support needed to help make Check-in effective.  And as Adobe’s footprint continues to grow, the ERC provides a scalable solution for long-term success.

3.     Leadership Capabilities

Over the last year, we have made strides in driving awareness and adoption for Check-in globally and building this into our expectations of leaders and managers.  We recently refreshed the leadership capabilities needed for the continued success with the growth of the company.  A key leadership capability that we have identified is the focus on role modelling Check-in.  Adobe leaders are held accountable for establishing challenging, yet attainable performance expectations; role-modeling Check-in; providing clear and timely feedback and coaching to others on their performance.  We have provided a very simple framework for leaders to use and tailor to fit their personalities and the culture of their teams.

As mentioned, there have been many lessons-learned along the way.  We shared our journey with Bersin by Deloitte and collaborated on this informative webinar with Ellie Gates, our Director Global Management Effectiveness at Adobe:  How Adobe Reengineered for Performance Agility.  Additionally, Bersin by Deloitte created a case study, Reengineering for Agility, that encapsulates the strategies and tactics we used to implement Check-in at Adobe.

Moving to a Check-in approach was the right decision for Adobe.  We hope to serve as a model for other global organizations looking to take new approaches and innovate with respect to people practices that can contribute to company performance, growth and success.

Donna Morris, SVP People & Places


Forget Reviews, Let’s Look Forward

Donna coverRanking sessions, labels, long-winded appraisals, and conversations that focus on your past are obsolete at Adobe. Last year we abolished our annual performance review in favor of lighter-weight Check-in conversations that center on ongoing feedback. We don’t have labels, a formal tool or prescriptive time of year it all has to happen – we just ask people to have conversations. At the time it felt like a risk, but it is refreshing to see how the new approach has been embraced.

Our people were asking for change, our company was transforming and moving faster than ever. It was time to take a hard look at those traditional people processes and shake things up for the benefit of our employees and Adobe overall. We hire exceptional people … we don’t want to label them. We want to focus on motivating and inspiring each individual to bring his/her best to the company.

HR Executive Magazine did a great job of capturing our journey of getting rid of annual reviews — I invite you to check it out. Now that we’re nearing our one year anniversary of rolling out the Check-in, I am more convinced than ever that this was the right decision – I actually wish we had abolished the annual review, and all that came along with it, much sooner. We’re seeing more genuine conversations happening at the company; we’re saving 80,000 hours of our managers’ time by removing an archaic process; and our attrition is down year over year. As with any change, things take time to truly become second nature, but I couldn’t be more pleased with the progress.

What’s your take on annual reviews? Are they a process of the past?

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