There are an infinite number of ways to assess employee performance. From detailed statistical analyses to drawing promotion appointments out of a hat, they range in accuracy and effectiveness. While there is no way to definitively identify the most accurate measure of employee performance, there are some methods that are regularly highlighted as best. We all have our own favoured methods too.
Employee Performance And Context
While many HR professionals rely solely on statistics, others prefer to use first hand accounts of the employee and base decisions on those views. While neither side can provide conclusive proof that their approach is correct, neither side can disprove the other, either. To truly understand performance, you need to understand both statistics and opinions. Both are required because, one offers context to the other. Without the context of first hand opinion, certain statistics may flag an issue incorrectly or identify a problem but suggest the wrong solution.
The same is true of opinions without statistics. Managers often praise employees who generate mediocre metrics. Without the statistics, that employee may end up being promoted or handed responsibility for the wrong reasons, or to the wrong position. Which leads to a negative situation for all parties.
Poor Stats And Strong Opinion
To illustrate the point, lets look at two of the most common statistics for assessing employee performance. ‘Goals Met or Exceeded’ and ‘Absenteeism’. From a purely statistical point of view, these metrics should always point in different directions. High absenteeism, low goals met; and vice versa. However, opinion can add a new dimension to that data. You may have an employee who is seen by their colleagues and immediate manager as knowledgeable, skilled and engaged; but achieves mediocre results and is regularly absent. That may point to an employee who is a valuable asset but is engaged in the wrong work or has an underlying issue that, when resolved, would free them to achieve better results. Without proper context, both employer and employee could miss an opportunity for development.
Great Stats Aren’t Everything
The same goes for employees with perfect attendance and strong metrics. By combining that data with the opinions of those who interact with that employee every day, you can identify whether they are achieving the best figures they can or if there is potential for more. They may have reached their level with little potential for improvement. You may also find that they are not engaged with any success beyond the fulfillment of those metrics. This attitude can be common in sales and customer service roles where metrics are seen as the only target. Employees like that, despite strong figures, may lack development potential.
These are simplified examples, and different industries will achieve better results with different approaches. However, one thing is clear, assessing employee performance is about a lot more than what the eye can see and what a stat can prove.
360 Feedback can provide a fully rounded view of your employees’ performance and add that vital context to your performance metrics. Download our whitepaper 10 Steps to Great 360 Degree Feedback to find out how you can get the most out of your employee feedback.
I would highly recommend 15Five’s Weekly Employee Feedback program. It helps managers know the pulse of their company by allowing them to ask different contextual, unique and original questions to their employees every week. It takes the employee less than 15minutes to complete it and 5 minutes for the manager to read. We use it at our agency and love it!