Why Return Path is moving from traditional performance reviews to an agile self-managing organization [+Video]

September 24, 2013 - 5 minute read - Posted by

In July, 7Geese announced its partnership with Return Path to build the world’s first self-management people platform. We were ecstatic to have Angela Baldonero, the Senior VP of People and Client Success at Return Path, in our Vancouver office to talk about Return Path’s initiative to move away from traditional performance reviews to self-management. Along with Amin Palizban, CEO of 7Geese, they talk about the role that 7Geese plays in facilitating self-management across the organization.

Here are the main points of the interview:

  • Return Path did extensive research on benchmarking of what the company deemed to be high performing organizations that are fairly flat. The research showed that these companies were able to make decisions quicker and employees felt more empowered. Employees also have the resources to get done what they have to do. These companies operate on a more flexible dynamic, producing high quality work.

  • Return Path focuses on freedom and flexibility – setting people free to deliver their best work and in return, the company expects high quality work and high accountability. Return Path is also big on transparency – the more they can get rid of layers or perceived bureaucracy, the more they empower people.

  • Return Path was looking for a system that could support what the company was trying to accomplish. 7Geese has an alignment of philosophy with Return Path. What the company likes about 7Geese is that we are an open system that allows for transparency – the ability to see across the organization.

  • 7Geese allows Return Path to reduce duplication. A team in California can see what other teams are doing in France or Australia. This allows for more organic alignment which leads to more efficient use of resources.

  • 7Geese is not architected in the traditional way of managers and employees going through reviews, having to sign off and going through layers of approvals which many other systems offer. 7Geese encourages peer to peer feedback. Employees can interact directly. There are different ways to create teams and every one can align their objectives together.

  • Return Path is moving from the traditional performance reviews. The company has a robust 360 feedback system and a performance review system that ran once a year. Both systems worked well, but they were out of sync with the pace of the business and the pace of individual’s development. Once a year, point in time, trying to remember everything one person did in one year to then summarize it in one document is out of sync with how a business operates and how quickly an individual is developing.

  • Return Path decided to move towards continuous feedback and more work quality focus feedback. Having one review between manager and employee can get very personal whereas when there is a team evaluating the work continuously, employees will get more specific feedback in the moment that they can work on.

  • The transition to self-management does not fall entirely on using 7Geese. 7Geese is a supporting mechanism and Return Path added its own offline process. There are offline work behind – how to create goals, how teams are thinking about goals and expectations etc. 7Geese comes in to support these offline processes as an open and transparent tool. When Return Path goes through retrospective, the team has a meaningful conversation on the different objectives and the progress. This is an opportunity to give feedback at the time. The marriage between 7Geese and Return Path’s rich offline process ensures that the right conversation is happening during 360 feedback.

  • Return Path is getting away on evaluations based entirely on competency through the use of traditional surveys and moving towards evaluations based on quality of work. Competency can be misleading. For example, I am a great listener. When evaluating a project, how will you make sure that I have applied my competency to produce high quality work?

  • Evaluating the actual work allows Return Path to discover how employees are applying themselves. A person can be incredibly skilled but not do a great job. On the other hand, an employee can be developing really quickly and applying the competencies in the form of high quality work.