How do you measure employee performance at your place of work?
Might as well ask how long is a piece of string, right? There are so many variables straight off the bat that the question is actually a little bit laughable, like wanting someone to explain why they prefer Peaky Blinders over A Game of Thrones (sheer idiocy TBH) or how they came to support the Bulls even though they quite clearly reside in the Western Cape (don’t do that, it will open a whole can of rugby-related worms you are not ready to handle my friend!).
Suffice it to say, the task of measuring a given employee’s performance objectively can be a tall order when there is no hard and fast rules in place. To make matters just that tad more complicated, every workplace has its own set of industry-specific Xs, Ys and Zs that apply - a restaurant manager can’t be measured by the same criteria as a marketing intern, nor a bull wrangler by that of an event florist. There are just too many differences.
Yet, there is plenty of proof that regular performance reviews are essential if you want your business to thrive in 2019. So what is a poor division manager or HR representative to do when they are called upon to measure employee performance?
When you’re conducting and compiling annual performance reviews, ask the following questions to ensure that you are doing so objectively:
1. How's their execution?
One of the most important performance measurement tools you can have in your arsenal is the ability to gauge an employee's level of execution. This is of particular importance in set-ups where you don't have finite barometers like sales targets. 'Execution' is an overarching term that refers to a manager, mentor or team leader's overall satisfaction with their employee's commitment to their work and their ability to complete it on time while still delivering high quality service. Think about it this way - if you were judging a food show, this would be your overall impression of the dish from start to finish, rather than the individual components thereof.
2. If the quality of their work up to snuff?
Annual performance reviews differ from one industry to the next, this much we've established. However, if you want to evaluate employee performance effectively, you need to be able to quantify the quality of a person's work in some way. In broad terms, the quality of a person's work refers to the results they achieve. You may want to express it as an overall number, break their role down into different sections and score each one individually, or base it on a combination of client reviews and peer input - whichever way you go, it's important that you are able to explain the number or level of quality you assigned.
3. Are they being creative with their solutions?
Creativity is one of the most important factors you will have to consider when measuring employee performance at your place of business. It’s the lifeblood of any sustainable business after all! When you’re appraising each employee’s performance, take the time to consider whether they are known to think outside of the box or come up with innovative solutions for tricky problems. Recognising and rewarding this ability is a surefire way to stimulate its growth.
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4. Are they showing improvement?
When we stop improving, we get ready to stagnate - that much is common sense. If you practice management by objectives that seek to promote continuous improvement among your workforce, you company will likewise improve, grow, push barriers and reach new heights. The same is true for your employees. This is why it is so important to measure improvement, so your employees may be rewarded when they up their game and encouraged if they need to rethink the way they approach things.
5. What do their colleagues have to say?
When you look at the latest performance metrics, you will see that peer reviews are almost always included. That is because your team members have a much different experience of each other, than you do of them. After all, a workplace hierarchy can be as 'flat' as you want it to be, there will always be a difference between the overseers and those who are overseen. When you take the time to gather feedback from a person's colleagues, you will have access to a completely different point of view than your own.
6. Are they hitting their targets?
This aspect of a performance is pretty self-explanatory - you need to make sure that your employees are hitting their targets in terms of revenue generation. How you choose to measure this will be determined by the type of organisation you have - a sales person’s targets are pretty simple to check up on; an administrative assistant not so much. In cases like these, goals can be used as a means to gauge progress.
7. How responsive have they been to feedback so far?
It's important to close the feedback loop - after all, it makes no sense to take the time to measure employee performance if the recipient does not act upon it. Ideally, you want to make time to discuss the measures they've taken to improve upon their previous annual review and whether it has yielded any positive results. This is a good way to hold everyone accountable and ensure that they take any advice you give them to heart.
8. Do they take ownership of a task?
When a person takes ownership of a given task they are able to overcome problems on their own, which means they require less supervision and reinforcement than someone who has to be micromanaged in order to be effective. This is of particular importance for SMEs and startups who can't afford to spend a lot of time on grooming less confident individuals into a place of strength. When you make ownership of tasks a KPI, you are far more likely to enjoy positive growth in this area across the board.
9. Can they manage their time?
Ah time - everyone's favourite yardstick. When we say that time is an important factor, we do not mean that you should merely judge an employee on their ability to deliver a project or product on time. In cases where schedules are tight, it's important that you focus on the sacrifices a person may have made to deliver against it nonetheless. It is when above-the-line-of-duty behaviour like this is recognised and rewarded (e.g. by arranging for flexi-time or extra time off) that your team feels inspired to that extra mile.
10. How do they respond to the presence of limitations?
It doesn't matter if your business is big or small, employees have to be able to work within limitations that relate to everything from budget to time. We're not saying that this should be the norm (not by a long shot, in fact - we're all about giving employees the resources they need to thrive!). What we're saying is that those employees who show that they are able to take these limitations and find a creative solution to make things work regardless are to be recognised and rewarded accordingly.
Switch it around, and think about it - wouldn’t you be happy if your boss were to implement these guidelines when they measured your performance?
If they were to take into account your execution, the quality of your work, your creativity, improvement, response to feedback, ability to meet targets, willingness to take ownership of tasks, time management, and reaction to limitations, odds are you'd enjoy a more well-rounded review - not so? This is the dream folks. This is how it should be.
Read more here: 360 Performance review template and how to use it
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