Q&A With Cynthia Quigley, CPA, CFF
Insights from the Accenture's Finance Capability & Knowledge Management Lead.
ICPAS Assistant Director, Member Outreach
The dreaded annual performance review. Often draining and distracting for
employees and managers alike, much has been written and said about how to
make the process less painful. But rather than less painful, what if performance
reviews were more powerful?
Illinois CPA Society member Cynthia Quigley, CPA, CFF, shares her insights into
how Accenture has revamped its performance review process to be a positive
experience—and a powerful career catalyst—for all.
Q: What has Accenture done to reinvigorate
Fundamentally, Accenture is focused on helping people achieve their best performance.
Our internal research told us that our employees were looking for more
coaching and real-time communication. We knew to attract and retain high performers
we needed to modify our performance management process to spend
less time talking about people and more time talking with them.
So, we moved away from an annual process of ratings and rankings to more
ongoing, forward-looking conversations focused on a person’s natural strengths,
their team, their progress, and their career opportunities at Accenture. And part
of our approach now focuses on educating our leaders to be good communicators
that work alongside their people to set work priorities, define and play to their
strengths, collaborate more effectively, and take ownership of their careers.
Q: What impact has this made on culture, motivation,
and team dynamics?
By moving away from purely managing performance and focusing on helping
people achieve their best performance, we have witnessed a shift to a more energized,
collaborative, and engaged workforce. We are experiencing a work environment
with more productive conversations, with employees making meaningful
connections with their leaders and peers, understanding what is expected of
them, and defining career goals. Our people are beginning to operate at the intersection
of what they do well and what they love, resulting in higher quality of work
Q: What is the biggest organizational change you’ve noticed
because of the new review process?
There is a greater focus on individual career development—conversations are
richer, more holistic and forward-looking. We are not ignoring past performance,
but instead taking those insights and rather than just labeling and rewarding it as
in the past, we are understanding the whole person. We are taking employees’
skills, strengths, and aspirations into account to help grow their careers in ways
that are mutually beneficial to them and the company. Our employees realize they
can take actions with their supervisors to grow within their current teams or look
for opportunities in other parts of the organization.
Q: What advice do you have for managers looking to
better their teams and the review process?
Creating an environment where employees receive ongoing, forward-looking,
and meaningful feedback is critical to successful performance management. I
have witnessed that when employees know what is expected of them, know the
areas in which they excel, and have ongoing coaching and support, they are
more engaged and perform better overall.
One of our goals is to develop a culture where feedback is a positive experience,
where people don’t wait for feedback, but ask for and welcome it. Providing
employees with candid, real-time feedback allows individuals to adjust and accelerate
their work performance throughout the year, avoiding the pitfalls associated
with traditional annual performance reviews. This naturally translates into greater
success for a company.