Thursday, September 4, 2008

Rating Performance Factors

Once you have identified performance metrics and you have made them SMART (specific, measurable, ambitious, realistic, and time-referenced), you can rate the performance of an organization, department, team, or individual employee. I recommend that you develop a weighted measurement system so that the most important performance objectives earn the greatest focus from your employees. This can be done in a simple manner when you review the objectives with your team.

First, make it very clear how important each objective is. I suggest that you use the following scale:
  1. Mission Critical – employees in this position must succeed in this area.
  2. Very Important – this factor is one of the most important for this position.
  3. Useful – this factor can help employees in this position be seen as successful.
When you then sit down to review results with team members you can put their results in a matrix. Each column represents how important the objectives are. The most important objectives are in the first column. The rows represent how well that employee has executed against each objective. If someone has emphasized an objective to the detriment of others they will be doing very well, but perhaps too well. Therefore, the very top row is actually not a positive thing, it is "excessive focus". That is just as problematic as having a performance metric in a lower row (e.g. underperforming). The rows I recommend are:
  1. Excessive Focus – the employee ignored other important factors because he/she was so focused on doing this well.
  2. Exceeded Requirements/Expectations – the employee did more than I had hoped or expected in this area.
  3. Met Requirements/Expectations – the employee was as successful in this area as I wanted or needed him/her to be.
  4. Missed Requirements/Expectations – the employee did not live up to my expectations or did not fully realize my requirements in this area.
  5. No Focus – the employee seemed to ignore this factor.

This 15-cell matrix (5 rows x 3 columns) drives home a very clear, visual message. Of course, you must discuss each individual result as measured during the performance period that you are discussing with the employee, but the visual representation of their performance is what will stick in their mind. Their goal will be to have all objectives in the second row across every column.

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