Tag Archives: effectiveness appraisal

Measuring Output or Effectiveness?

From the Ask Tom mailbag-

You describe an evaluation process called the Personal Effectiveness Appraisal. How is that different from a Performance Review?

The Performance Review, or Annual Performance Appraisal judges the output of the person in the role related to goals or objectives. How close did the team member’s output come to the target? The problem with the Performance Appraisal, it places accountability in the wrong place.

The goal, or the target published in the Performance Appraisal is generally set by the manager. Team members may agree (enthusiastically or reluctantly), but it is the manager that signs off on the target. That target is the manager’s best judgement of what is reasonable based on the manager’s expectation of circumstances. These goals or targets are typically organized into Key Areas, so the role has an array of indicators (KPIs) on which to examine output. Because this method incorporates a series of comparative numbers, it is thought that this Performance Appraisal is “objective” in that the numbers don’t lie. The problem is, the basis for those numbers is still a manager’s judgement. Further, it is the manager that controls all the variables around those numbers, access to resources, number of people committed to the goal, budget allocated, tools, maintenance schedules, overtime permitted, supply chain interruption. It is the manager Elliott holds accountable for output.

The Personal Effectiveness Appraisal is different. Please understand it is still a manager’s judgement, but now the manager is looking at additional criteria. It is not that we put the manager’s targets aside, but the manager must now consider the team member’s effectiveness in the context of the circumstances during the appraisal period. A salesperson, in a fertile market might achieve the target output numbers by simply taking orders. A Performance Appraisal might judge the output as “exceeded expectations,” while an Effectiveness Appraisal might judge the behavior as mediocre.

A salesperson in a difficult market might fall short of the target in spite of extraordinary skill and effort. The Performance Appraisal might judge the output with a failing grade, while an Effectiveness Appraisal might yield a high five, perhaps a hug (if we are still allowed to hug in the workplace).

How to Evaluate Effectiveness in the Role

“You have a hunch this team member has potential,” I told Maryanne. “What did you see, what did you observe that gave you the hunch?”

Maryanne was not convinced about her hunch. “This team member always seems to finish her work on time. It rarely contains errors. Occasionally, I will see her toying with other ways to accomplish the work, shortcuts that save time, but don’t impact quality or quality improvements that don’t take extra time. Whenever there is an extra project, she always volunteers. She is helpful to other people she works with, coordinates her work handoffs so they are seamless.”

“When you think about her effectiveness in the role, would you say she works as well as someone in the top half of the role or the bottom half of the role?” I asked.

“Definitely the top half,” Maryanne replied.

“And in that half, would you say the top, middle or bottom?”

“Top of the top,” she confirmed.

“Then, how are you going to test her potential?”

Outbound Air, Levels of Work in Organizational Structure, by Tom Foster, is now available for Kindle, soon to be released in softcover.

Outbound Air