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<i>Dear Workforce</i> How Do We Create Evaluations That Accurately Capture How Well People Perform Their Jobs

November 16, 2006
Dear One Size Doesn't Fit:
You raise important points about the challenges associated with developing and implementing a successful performance management system.
 
More and more companies are recognizing that a "one-size-fits-all" performance management approach does not work for their organizational culture, goals, and mission. Different people occupy different jobs that require different competencies, behaviors and outcomes. Although some common expectations might apply for all job functions, it is important to think about the bigger picture. Instead of putting people in a box by using the same performance evaluation for all employees, open up the box to release the potential within each individual.
 
Consider the following steps for developing and implementing a performance management system that is results-focused and distinctive to your organization. Ask yourself the following:
 
1. Which are the major job functions within your organization (i.e., accountants, administrative, marketing, financial, information technology, human resources, operations, sales)? A performance management system should meet the needs of all major job functions.
 
2. What, if any, common expectations exist between job functions (i.e., quality of work, productivity, interpersonal skills, dependability, job knowledge and initiative)? Common expectations ensure there is some level of consistency between performance evaluations. They also provide a great opportunity to put in place expectations that may be unique to your organization's culture.
 
3. How are expectations defined as behaviors? For instance, quality of work might include accuracy, thoroughness and neatness of work. By defining the expectation as a behavior, it becomes observable and, thus, measurable. The expectations might be enough to cover your administrative team.
 
4. What are the individual key results for each employee? For example, an individual key result for your IT director might be to create and implement a new software training program by a specific date. Individual key results must be measurable and will change as goals are attained and new ones begin.
 
5. What steps will be taken to involve employees in developing the performance management system? Involving employees this way promises a much higher level of acceptance and ownership of the process.
 
6. How will a coaching approach maximize the performance evaluation discussion? Coaching focuses and builds on employee strengths as a way to improve development areas. Two-way communication occurs that sparks solid discussion and generates keen insight. Consider a place on the evaluation form for coaching comments and employee comments.
 
7. What will keep the performance management system alive? You will need to find ways to keep things fresh and relevant to your organization's evolving goals. If the system becomes stale, change it to keep it properly aligned with current needs.
 
Building a culture of performance throughout an organization in all job functions creates a greater sense of purpose and commitment. Results will be seen internally when employees achieve their goals. It also will be witnessed externally by strengthening your organization's competitive position.
 
SOURCE: Dana E. Jarvis, human resources director,Snavely Forest Products, Pittsburgh, December 27, 2005. Jarvis also is an adjunct professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
 
LEARN MORE: Please read How Do We Move From Paternalism to Measuring Performance?
 
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.