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Evolving Performance Management: Emphasizing Career Focus

Performance management is undergoing a paradigm shift in accounting firms and across the business landscape.

We see a movement away from evaluating employee performance solely based on past performance and towards a more career-focused approach. Instead of focusing on what went right and wrong over the past months or year, career development conversations take center stage.

The benefits of emphasizing career paths in your performance management

By focusing on career development in your performance evaluations, you empower your staff to envision their future within the firm in a more holistic and long-term manner. Rather than confining your conversations to immediate issues and short-term goals, employees are encouraged to think about their ultimate aspirations—what they want to be, do, create, and have throughout their career with your firm.

This shift in perspective empowers your team members by instilling a sense of purpose and direction, making tasks more meaningful and aligned with their individual goals. It's not just about immediate productivity anymore—it's about nurturing talent for sustainable success and fostering a workforce that's vested in the organization's long-term vision and strategic plan.

The challenges that come from future-focused performance management

While the shift towards a career-focused approach in performance management can bring significant benefits, it has its fair share of challenges. So let's delve into some potential obstacles your firm may encounter while steering their performance management conversations towards future career goals rather than immediate behaviors.

  • Traditional evaluations might not capture an employee's full potential and contributions.

  • Managers may lack the necessary skills to have meaningful career development conversations effectively.

  • Transparency and openness between employees and managers can be challenging at times.

  • Keeping team members engaged in their long-term goals can be difficult when the immediate demands of their day-to-day jobs take precedence.

Best practices for future-focused performance management

A few best practices can pave the way for a smoother transition to career-focused performance evaluations, help you avoid common setbacks and ensure you empower team members to truly thrive.

Here are a few tips for successfully implementing a more future-focused approach to performance management.

  • Provide manager training. Provide training and resources to equip managers with the interpersonal skills needed to conduct career-focused conversations.

  • Practice goal setting and development plans. Establish individual development plans or balanced scorecards with team members that align with the employee's and firm's strategic goals and objectives. Encourage team members to actively participate in the conversation, outlining their aspirations and career goals early on in the process.

  • Have regular check-ins. Schedule regular check-ins between managers and team members to monitor progress, track goals and make adjustments as needed. Rather than rehashing the past, focus on people's strengths, potential and progress. Emphasize what team members are doing well, where they have room for growth, and how far they have come since their last performance review.

  • Create an inclusive culture. Foster a supportive and inclusive environment where employees can feel comfortable discussing career aspirations and seeking guidance.

By focusing on the future and following these best practices, your firm can transition from traditional performance management to one that prioritizes people's unique strengths and career trajectories. This will empower your team members to make decisions based on their career goals, take ownership of their choices and develop into more engaged employees.


Are you ready to upskill your team and transform your firm?

The Boomer Learning & Development Circle is a peer group of learning and development professionals in the accounting profession who share tools and resources to properly support their firms' learning and development goals. Apply now to ensure you're focusing on the right skills, engaging learners and demonstrating value to other firm leaders.


As a Solutions Advisor for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Kylie Pruser is excited about engaging with clients, helping them solve their problems, enrich their businesses and grow. Her primary focus is on communities, including the Talent Circle, Learning & Development Circle, and Operations Circles.


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