‘People First’ Performance Management Drives Business

Monday, October 17, 2016 9:00 am PDT


Mark Alders, Vice President of Total Rewards, Corporate, Avery Dennison

Grow. Perform. Succeed. These are the goals Avery Dennison sets for our employees and our business. In fact, they are so essential to the core of who we are, we call our performance and development process “GPS.”

Ours is an intensely people-focused business that’s built and sustained on relationships. Our internal culture is also people-oriented. When we recently reviewed our HR processes, we found that our performance management process could be modernized. We wanted the way we handle people development and performance to be as grounded in relationship and discussion as our business model. We sought to create a process that was simple and focused on quality dialogue as a driver of development and performance. Revamping the GPS program focused on three primary changes:

  • More frequent, quality dialogues
  • Emphasis on discussing a blend of performance (how am I doing?) and development (how am I growing?) topics
  • Reduced emphasis on systems and templates

Good-bye performance reviews. Hello higher quality dialogues.
The first thing to go was the traditional notion of the annual “performance review.” This outdated model didn’t serve our people’s development needs and it had become (like it has in so many companies) a dreaded annual event. We opted instead for a more fluid process that prioritizes goals that clearly align individual roles to business goals, and that supports year-round conversations. The aim of the new process is more frequent, higher quality dialogues between managers and employees that enable a coaching model of employee development.

Well-rounded feedback, on demand.
We’re also strong believers in the power of feedback, so we developed a new “multi-source feedback” tool that allows employees and managers to voluntarily request - at any time - anonymous feedback from people within their internal network. We encourage and support strong manager-employee relationships, but enabling other voices and perspectives to be part of development conversations better supports our people in learning and growing across an array of skills (not just job performance).

Simplified metrics look back and look forward.
While we let go of the idea of the traditional performance review, our GPS process includes an annual “Conversation Day” where the focus of the discussion between managers and employees is a look back on goal achievement and a look forward to future impact. We’ve whittled down our performance metrics to three simple ratings:

  • Successful Year
  • Exceptional Year
  • Improvement Needed

Managers no longer need to spend time filling out forms and deconstructing every aspect of an employee’s performance over the past year.  Instead, they focus on the dialog, and utilize simple, easy-to-use templates to capture more holistic feedback on both performance and development progress.

Of course, our new GPS process demands developing new skills on both sides of the manager-employee relationship. Managers need to reinforce and strengthen coaching facility, while employees need to actively seek feedback, and get more comfortable with continuous feedback. Fortunately for us, these behaviors aren’t far off from the way we work now and we have easy-to-use tools in place to support these changes.

What are employees saying about the new GPS?
The new GPS program has been underway for just about a year. We’ve asked employees for feedback on the process and are gratified to see that 95% of those surveyed really appreciate the changes we’ve made. Over time, we’ll continue to refine the process, making sure it meets the needs of our entire team.

Grow. Perform. Succeed. That’s a promise Avery Dennison makes to everyone who joins our team. And now, we have an improved performance and development process to better deliver on it.

Want to learn more about Avery Dennison? Visit averydennison.com/careers.

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Preview Image: 
Mark Alders