The Employee Development Honor Roll: Goldman Sachs


(In this blog series, we share the stories of companies that have taken the first steps toward their employee development transformation. You can read our first post about Patagonia’s transition to real-time employee development and our second post about Adobe’s check-in culture.)

An employee development strategy that pulls triple duty

Goldman Sachs made headlines earlier this year when it announced that the company was revamping its employee review process for its 36,500 workers. The decision was largely based on feedback from employees. In a nutshell, the company plans to:

  • eliminate its nine-point employee rating system, and instead use a non-numerical scale to measure performance
  • change the purpose of its annual review to provide more direction as to how employees can improve vs. grading past performance
  • implement technology to carry out more frequent, continuous feedback initiatives
  • move review conversations up to take place during the summer, giving employees the opportunity to improve before bonuses and other workforce decisions are made at the end of the year

While all of these changes signal Goldman Sachs’ move to a more modern employee development approach, it also very smartly allows the company to achieve three benefits as a direct result of the new process.

  1. Keep younger workers happy.

Millennials crave feedback. One survey cited that 42% of Millennials want feedback at least once a week, more than twice as often as other generations. The traditional HR practices of Wall Street won’t cut it with the younger generations in today’s workforce. If you want to keep your most promising young talent, you’ll need to appeal to them with modern processes.

  1. Eliminate time-consuming review processes for managers.

Unless managers have diligently tracked employee achievements, issues and peer feedback throughout the year, it can be difficult to prepare a thoughtful review of an employee’s cumulative performance. Reducing the number of reviewers will lessen the time commitment, but even more helpful to the process will be having more frequent discussions to refer back to when preparing reviews.

  1. Promote a healthier culture.

Goldman Sachs has a famously competitive culture, not unlike other Wall Street banks. Using a numerical system to rank employees fueled a non-collaborative, “me first” environment. The company realized that an entire workforce of me-first employees created a negative and unstable company culture. Giving employees the right tools to both praise and coach each other along the way creates a more collaborative, engaged workforce.

You can read more about Goldman Sachs here:

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