At ADEO, a manager experiments with mid-year reviews... while walking!

Written by Jérôme Labastie, on 18 December 2019

After watching a TEDx talk, Anne-Sophie, HR leader at ADEO Services (ADEO's headquarters), realizes that people don't walk enough. The observation is simple, and so is the remedy. Let's walk more! During coaching training, she discovers walking meetings. This is where the idea originated to apply this method with her teams, especially to revitalize the traditional mid-year review.

We spend a considerable amount of our working days in meetings, so why not conduct them outdoors, in the fresh air, while walking?

Anne-Sophie starts by experimenting with outdoor work meetings, which turn out to be successful. As an HR professional, she suggests conducting job interviews while walking. These interviews prove to be very productive and authentic!

As a manager of a team of 7 collaborators, she then decides, on a voluntary basis, to implement walking performance reviews with her team. Luckily, the stroll around TERRADEO (the name of ADEO's headquarters) is enjoyable.

How does Anne-Sophie go about it?

Anne-Sophie conducts her reviews by asking several professional questions (How do you review the first 6 months of the year? What are you proud of? What were the most challenging aspects? What are your priorities for the next 6 months? How can I support you?).

The discussion covers the same topics as a standard office performance review, but the conversation is more fluid and human. No PowerPoint presentations, no physical barriers (like an office!), and no restrictions on the topics to discuss.

The physical movement to embody a transformation is powerful; it speaks volumes!

Anne-Sophie is surprised by the various reactions to the practice. Each collaborator adopts their walking pace. Some stop walking when discussing difficulties, likely reflecting the physical manifestation of the discussed idea, providing insights into the interlocutor's state of mind.

During these exchanges, it becomes apparent that naturalness takes over. The dialogue can be more personal if the collaborator desires. By practicing this method, more information is obtained from the pair, including details that might not have surfaced in a more traditional meeting.

For the first time in 20 years of management, some collaborators respond with, "And you, Anne-Sophie, how are you? What are your goals?"

The side-by-side posture while walking allows for an equal exchange rather than an evaluator/evaluated dynamic. It is the physical embodiment of progressing together in the same direction.

And on the logistical side?

No, you won't finalize your annual budget during a walking meeting.

Anne-Sophie loves to take notes, but she had to let go of that during these walks. She simply brings a notebook where she notes 2-3 key points and allocates 5 minutes at the end of the meeting to record the major points discussed during the review.

If the topic is complex, a document summarizing the discussion will be sent in advance so that both parties start their conversation with the same level of information.

It's worth noting that this practice works well because the manager knows their teams and regularly checks in with them. It's more of a special moment in the ongoing discussion between the manager and the collaborator than a specific evaluation point.