Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Personal performance monitoring and management

We all see the world with obscure eyes. We believe that people around us think and act same way as we do. The truth is that we are all different. What we see to be a problem can be accepted by another person as a normal behavior. The art of team performance management is in making all facts of misbehavior noted and corrected.

The first step on this path is giving another perspective to a person. For the sake of experiment ask your manager to jog down 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses in your professional behavior. Most probably you'll be surprised with results. The difference comes from different mindset, different criteria of assessment and different priorities used by you and your manager. Having a look from the outside is always helpful in determining where to direct your self-improvement.

Performance appraisals are written to provide independent, unbiased, and detailed enough perspective of someone's achievements, strengths, and weaknesses. It helps looking at all these things through the prism of another system of values. The best result is achieved is the system of values not that of a manager but that of a team. This is not as easy because performance appraisals are written by managers. But this is possible.

In order to define proper system of values, or a measure, you need to define what your team needs more in order to reach its goals. Find out qualities, which, if excelled by individuals, will get you closed to the goal. Here is my list, for example:

- Qualification
- Quality of work
- Quantity of work
- Responsibility
- Timeliness (ability to meet deadlines)
- Communication
- Initiative
- Creativity
- Flexibility
- Learning from mistakes

You may use this or you define your own list of qualities. It works best if defining such a list is a collective effort.

After we defined the list of qualities you may start giving marks to team members. Most of errors in implementation are made at this stage. Managers who perform assessment may provide subjective mark that does not only serve the purpose badly, it also may be counter-productive. There is no mistake worse in the management than under-valuing someone. People feel such things very keenly and take it very closely.

So, in order to use a team-oriented system of values we need to collect information from the team. Ask peers to fill in assessment form for a person. In parallel, write your own assessment and them compare one against another. And not only that... The difference you find should be explained!

Once you have finished adjustment, you are ready to write an unbiased team oriented assessment. While writing it keep in mind that you may face resistance to accept some things in it o the side of a person, who is the subject to the appraisal. Make sure it has examples of good and bad behavior highlighted in it. If you have difficulties in remembering such examples, ask your peer reviewers to provide them.

Reading appraisal to a person is another possibility to screw it up. Do not make it painful. Explain that the reason of it is to help your team mate to grow, to improve. Make him or her feeling comfortable with a joke or two. But do not go too far. Do not make look like a farce. This is a serious business, a team's priority one.

While describing and reading assessment start from the positive achievements like this: "You did very well at writing ABC driver. It was a complex task, new to you. Anyway you performed it on a very high professional level. However, the depth of testing was not enough. The defects discovered after you by testers where mostly of unit type. A least 10 of 15 defects could have been removed if you performed unit testing well enough".

And the last but not least, the marks! What is it going to be? I prefer qualitative marks:

- Superior
- Sufficient
- Insufficient

Superior means that a person can be an example for others on the team. Sufficient and Insufficient speak for themselves.

Such marks can be set against qualities for your team mates and can be used in team ranking or even for comparing your team's people against other teams in the company. In result of such comparison one may come up with enterprise level ranking for all employees - a dream of every CEO :)

Hope this helps and have a nice assessment!

No comments:

Post a Comment