Allen & Overy will move all of its staff to a new performance management scheme next year, becoming the latest firm to scrap annual appraisals in favor of a system based on ongoing feedback.
The new scheme, dubbed “Compass,” replaces the Magic Circle firm’s current annual review process with more frequent one-on-one meetings between staff and partners or managers.
The firm piloted the system last year, with 550 people across its London capital markets team, its Middle East and Singapore offices, and its London HR team initially taking part. The scheme has now been extended to 2,000 staff members, and Allen & Overy is aiming for a complete firmwide rollout by May 2019.
The most recent additions to Compass include staff in the firm’s London real estate, litigation and support teams, its offices in the United States, South Africa, and Luxembourg, and its Belfast support base. Further Allen & Overy offices in Europe and Asia and other London teams will adopt the new system this summer.
Employees are required to take personal responsibility for organizing their feedback meetings, which the firm expects to be held about every two months.
Allen & Overy has also introduced an app, which can be used to provide immediate feedback in response to work. All feedback is attributable and is visible to employees and their partners or managers, and can be solicited or unsolicited, upward, downward or peer to peer.
The firm said the change had come in response to widespread demand for more regular feedback, and more “honest” career conversations.
“The response to the program has been extremely positive and, overall, the focus of performance-and-development conversations has become much more future-oriented,” said Allen & Overy global head of reward Toni Graves, who is spearheading the Compass scheme. ”Through check-ins and talent discussions, we have a much better understanding of people’s career aspirations, and teams are identifying opportunities for individuals that allow them to grow and achieve their potential.”
Allen & Overy co-head of global international capital markets David Benton said that Compass has transformed the firm’s performance-management process.
“It has become much more focused on future development based on regular, honest and open conversations,” he said. “We’re already seeing the tangible benefits of this to our business.”
The firm is one of a number currently shaking up their appraisal systems as more and more move away from the traditional annual structure for performance reviews. Hogan Lovells recently announced that it is scrapping annual feedback for associates in favor of a new program, dubbed “Pathways,” which directs associates to proactively seek input from partners and other colleagues about their performance throughout the year.
The program has been rolled out across Hogan Lovells’ global offices, and the firm said it will expand the initiative to include the firm’s business services staff next year.
Slaughter and May also recently overhauled its appraisal system for associates, with performance scores dropped in favor of more ongoing feedback and mentoring by dedicated “continuity” partners.