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Reinventing performance management at Allen & Overy

By Herminia Ibarra, Carrie J. Fletcher


By early 2019, Magic Circle law firm Allen & Overy (A&O) had replaced its longstanding, traditional annual review system with Compass, a state-of-the-art performance management process based on real-time feedback and planful career development discussions. As Managing Partner Andrew Ballheimer put it, Compass was part of a firm-wide cultural shift “to focus on future development and enable people to perform and progress through more regular open and effective conversations.” The case describes the impetus for the change, how the change process unfolded, key features of new the system, and the points of debate and controversy around the implementation.

Learning objectives

1. Recognise how performance appraisal is a key manifestation of an organisation’s culture and how it can support larger organisational goals and organisational changes
2. Show a leader’s thought process on the need for change in how performance is appraised in order to execute on strategic imperatives
3. Develop awareness of the use and implementation of new systems of performance appraisal based on continuous or frequent feedback
4. Understand that any seemingly “objective” performance management system will have strengths and weaknesses and be able to identify them.


Publication Date: October 2020
LBS Case Code: CS-20-022
Subjects: , , ,
Pages: 17
Format: pdf