The end of year often rhymes with assessment of the performance, setting of objectives for the new year to come, and development plans in terms of tasks, areas of responsibilities, training courses to attend, etc.
This is an essential moment in the life of companies, where we can all ensure that we achieve the goals of the company and that we renew the agreement on tasks and objectives for each employee.
However, it sometimes happens that people have the feeling that the assessment of their performance is not as fair as they would expect.
This may have negative consequences, as this has an impact on motivation and attitude towards work. Fair assessment of the performance is therefore essential.
Setting objectives first
Assessing fairly the performance starts with setting fair objectives.
You cannot indeed assess the performance of an individual if the objectives were not set and communicated clearly first and in advance. Typically, at the beginning of the year, objectives are set and they are assessed at the end of the year. One of the situations where people do not feel that they have been evaluated fairly is in fact situations where there were no real individual objectives set first.
Another situation where the fair assessment is not possible is where objectives are set but are too vague, not specific or not relevant to the actual job of the individual.
The ‘SMART’ approach helps setting fair objectives. The method states that objectives should be:
S – Specific (What, Who, Where, When, How)
M – Measurable (we should be able to measure precisely whether the objective is met or not (or indicator of progress)
A – Achievable (the goal should be achievable within the timeframe given, as well as not too easy to achieve, as this might be demotivating)
R – Relevant (relevant to the company and team’s objectives)
T – Time Specific (must have a start, an end, a duration)
Measurement of objectives
Once objectives are set, they can be measured. Again, it is important for the measurement to be objective and for that to be based on facts and figures rather than feeling and perception.
If the objective was ‘SMART’ as described above, it should be measurable.
For example, if one of the objectives was to process incoming documents within 24 hours of receipt.
This is something that can be measured by different ways, for example:
If you work with an EDMS, most software suites time-stamp the date and time when the document was received and then when it was processed and distributed internally. This data, once exported from the software can be processed to produce statistics
If you do not work with an EDMS, you are likely to work with an Excel register of documents. In this case, it could be a good idea to keep track in it (through specific columns for example) of the date and time of when you received the document and when you finished processing it.
Another objective that could be tracked is to have less than 1% of documents rejected by the Client for quality issues (as opposed to content). This is something that can be easily tracked by keeping a log of transmittal packages accepted or refused by the Client.
Performance review meeting
The performance review is normally conducted through a face-to-face one-to-one meeting. It is always best to discuss in person as opposed to systems where the performance assessment and objective settings is done through a software package.
The one-to-one meeting should be prepared thoroughly, both by the assessor and the assessed, to be a success: sufficient information should be sent in advance to both parties so that they can prepare the meeting.
Again, the subjects discussed should be based on facts and data, rather than on feelings. In order to have a rational discussion, the best is always to focus on actual measurements of KPIs, percentages of completion, difficulties encountered and how they have been managed.
The performance review meeting is, in most companies, also the moment where future career requirements are discussed: development plan, career moves, skills and training plans.
A tool that can be used to facilitate this discussion is the Consepsys DC Competency Matrix.
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