Performance evaluations – what’s your corporate MO?
There are three types of organizations when it comes to performance evaluations. The first type does not use any evaluation, or what they use is ad hoc, infrequent and unreliable. Those firms get what they deserve. The second type of organization tries to take the process seriously. Unfortunately, they over-invest in the idea and create a time-sucking burden the likes of which have been rarely seen. All that effort, yet it is not clear that the process helped employees and added value to the organization. Finally, there is a third type—a tiny group. They get it. The process adds value and is not cumbersome. They focus on people’s strengths, they limit the paperwork and they do not deliver evaluations at the same time as information regarding raises or bonuses.
For many years now, instead of focusing on people’s strengths, organizations have been attempting to measure employees against a generic template of “competencies.” The competency identification approach has noble intentions. Let’s see if we can figure out what it is that makes people thrive in our organization! What specific characteristics, skills and behaviors truly separate the mediocre from the proficient and the over-achievers? If you work at a large firm, you are no doubt familiar with the lengthy list of competencies that are tied to different roles and levels of advancement. It can be mind-numbing. Thanks to our friends in HR and the consultants they hired, there is no shortage of lists containing the knowledge, skills and abilities for any given role in the firm.
My apologies to those of you who have developed this list of competencies used to train, develop and evaluate employees. I do not mean to offend, but they have some problems. First, as I noted, there are too many of them. They need better focus. Next, most employees do not understand them. Frankly they read like a scholar wrote them—and that is not a compliment.
The ability to sufficiently manage ambiguous situations and remain productive when faced with incomplete information.
The ability to effectively develop employees’ skills to increase unit performance.
Able to interface successfully with internal and external parties.
Successfully develops self and demonstrates appreciation of continuous learning.
How exactly do you measure these things? You really cannot get past a great deal of subjectivity, though we try. It makes for fun reading too. So there are too many competencies, they are often too vague and they are tough to measure. What else?
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By Todd Dewett, Expert Access