The six week cutoff is important. If you are on a project and think that you will not be successful (personality conflicts, logistics, skill mismatch, dysfunctional client relationship, vague objectives, weak leadership, etc), you have time to get off the project before you are ranked negatively. As I’ve stated before, there is no reporting structure at Accenture, other than when you are on a project. I’ve been on projects where I managed a team of over 100 peope. On other projects, I only had one or two direct reports…as well as everything in between.
But outside of projects, you don’t have a manager or direct reports. You have a Career Counselor and you may have Counselees yourself (as a Senior Manager, you will have up to 7 Counselees). If you are a Senior Manager, your Career Counselor is a Managing Director and I guarantee, given their busy schedules, that they will not have much time to work with you during the year. I used to speak with my CC only a couple times a year. But make sure you demand their time preparing for Laddering Calls in order to make sure you are fairly represented!
Finally, you are evaluated on your sales results. In addition to being responsible for being billable roughly 80% of the time, you are expected to do great things during the other 20%. You have a lot of flexibility with what you do with that bench time. In fact, your qualitative review is based on how well you demonstrate mastery of the following three areas: 1) Business Operator, 2) People Developer and 3) Value Creator. But none of these will impact your performance appraisal like demonstrating your ability to close major revenue.
STAFF RANKING LEVELS
Once you receive your project rankings and your sales results for the year, you will be dumped into a Laddering pool where you will be ranked against other Senior Managers in your practice. Some of these categories below may have been retired or changed. This is a rough approximation. The point is that there are five levels. Everyone is graded on a bell curve. Few get the highest or lowest ranking. Most are ranked somewhere in the middle. Please note that some of the specifics of the program may have changed. I am basing our discussion on the Laddering Calls from 2013.
At the Very Top – This ranking is REALLY hard to get. For a Senior Manager to get this ranking, s/he would have to be ranked at or near the top of most or all their projects throughout the year. On a large project, there might be 50+ Senior Managers that you are ranked against. You need to make sure that you make a good impression on your project supervisor and that other supervisors agree with this ranking. Consistency is really important. If you are not getting consistent results, the outlier rankings could get thrown out. This is sometimes where the political gaming can skew results.
So you need to have top rankings in high profile roles on strategically important projects. It also helps if it is a recognized “difficult” client. But, far more importantly, you have to be a significant contributor to closing major revenue during the year. On top of that, you need to be tagged as “ready for promotion” by your Career Counselor. This way, the very few spots available aren’t *wasted* on someone who merely did an amazing job but isn’t up for promotion. I know. It’s political.