If agreed-upon factors don't exist, it is a worthy project to develop some, providing that your organization can muster the political will. The exercise can help the organization to decide, and to make public, the skills and knowledge it values. It addresses the apples-and-oranges phenomenon, in which dissimilar jobs contribute to common goals and get measured by common yardsticks. It lets every employee know how the organization decides who is doing a better job. Some sample competencies include results, decision-making, teamwork and problem-solving.
Research has shown that as few as three or four factors can summarize performance as reliably as a much larger number of finer-cut factors such as "completes paperwork on time." If your company doesn't have universal rating factors, I suggest you develop some just for this group. If peers, supervisors and self-appraisals all use the same factors, staffers can receive a gap analysis showing where the greatest differences lie between self-perception and the evaluation of others. These are blind spots that, with a little effort on the staffer's part, provide big changes.
Research does not show any straightforward correlation between self-assessment, supervisory assessments and peer assessments. Sometimes people inflate their own ratings. Sometimes they are harsher on themselves. But you cannot rely on people seeing themselves as others see them. That's why your company's practice of using self-ratings only as a starting point is a good idea—so that employees are not misled into believing that they have the last word.
SOURCE: Harold Fethe is a business consultant and former senior vice president at Johnson & Johnson.
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