Monday, May 2, 2011
|How Do We Create Evaluations That Accurately Capture How Well People Perform Their Jobs?|
We're a CPA office and have a very detailed multiple-page annual evaluation form for our professionals. However, I haven't been able to find a good general performance evaluation form for our administrative team. We also have a full-time marketing employee whose job is so specific to marketing that the only evaluation we can think of is results-oriented. The same issue applies to our IT manager and employees of our scanning department. How do we devise an evaluation system or format tailored to each of these different individuals that fairly and accurately captures how well they perform their specific jobs?
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.
Q&A: What Is "Managing by Objective"? How Do We Apply Its Principles to Measure Employee Performance?
|What Is "Managing by Objective"? How Do We Apply Its Principles to Measure Employee Performance?|
|How do we prepare a performance management plan that utilizes "management by objective"? What are some key advantages to this structure, as well as potential pitfalls? |
—Moving Toward MBOs, manufacturing, Hong Kong
Management by objective is gaining wide adoption in the business community. Here are a few observations on both the good and the bad.
Many organizations recognize the clear advantages of an MBO practice. First, setting objectives often creates an organization-wide focus on delivering results. When the right objectives are clearly identified, an MBO practice often improves the focus on execution. However, too much attention on results can backfire ( e.g., Enron). Organizations should balance the emphasis on results with an equal focus on the methods employed to achieve those results.
Additionally, an MBO format clarifies the performance expectations between employees and managers, often increasing perceptions of fairness among employees. Giving your workforce a clear line of sight between their objectives and higher-level business strategies sparks greater employee innovation and creativity.
Getting managers and employees to agree on objectives can be a challenge. Getting them to identify the best objectives is an even bigger challenge. Train them on setting goals using the SMART best practices methodology. (The acronym stands for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.) Well-written goals should feature these attributes. This is absolutely critical to avoid the pitfall of misallocating your resources. Following are some key considerations when introducing MBOs.
Know your endgame and think long term. Business drivers should be used to tailor an MBO practice to your organization's needs. Additionally, communicate the company's long-term vision to managers and employees. This enables you to introduce smart change over multiple years, in an apparent and systematic fashion.
Know your starting point and consider a pilot. Take a methodical and prudent approach to goal-setting. We know of one company that started with senior and midlevel management, as these groups were more acquainted with results-based evaluations. Another company started with one business unit and gradually introduced the practice to other groups. Both companies completed a deep "lessons learned" analysis after their initial pilots, which included employee surveys to understand perceptions and recommendations.
Keep it simple. Start with a fairly simple format for setting goals, saving more advanced goal-setting practices (e.g., weighting goals or cascading goals) for subsequent performance periods. A good communication plan sets expectations that the practice will evolve over time, especially if your organization knows where it wants to be in three to five years.
SOURCE: James Harvey, Knowledge Infusion, San Ramon, California, December 29, 2005.
Smart but passive. Good technicians, but not likely managers. Like many others, women from India and Pakistan seem doomed to stereotypes about how they function at work. But they should resist labels and pursue the careers of their dreams, said panelists at the Conference on India and Its Neighbors at Harvard Business School.
In a panel discussion on "South Asian Women in the Workplace," it was clear that women from India and Pakistan face many of the same challenges that all women do at work—but with a twist. Like women everywhere, they ask themselves, How should I get ahead? Find job satisfaction? Assert myself? Manage my home life with my career? Deal with family expectations?
As South Asians, though, they are also navigating a new set of dreams within a powerful sea of strong traditions and close-knit families, according to five women from a broad spectrum of careers. Sorting out the various pressures, they said, requires a lot of thought and care. Among the speakers was a Microsoft manager, a nuclear engineer, an editor and entrepreneur, an economist, and a Harvard academic who used to advise then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
First, there is the matter of the sari.
When Shahla Aly came to North America in 1977, she arrived with three things in hand, she told the group. "A freshly minted MBA degree from the University of Karachi, suitcases full of all my saris from my dowry, and an enormous amount of confidence—I'd almost say of naive confidence—in my ability to secure a corporate job at an entry level." For three months, she said, she proceeded through a series of dead-end interviews. No one would hire her. She was starting to get depressed and couldn't figure out what she was doing wrong.
In the fourth month, an interviewer told her, gingerly, "I think you'd be a wonderful fit for this company...but I do have one quick question to ask you, and it's rather personal."
Not feeling she had much of a choice, Aly agreed. The question was, "Do you plan to dress the way you're dressed today every day to work?"
"I thought he was complimenting me, and I said, 'Yes! I have so many saris like this.' Need I tell you that he didn't say anything back, but his eyes told me everything." As Aly noted with chagrin at HBS, his expression was an instant primer for interpreting American nonverbal cues. She went out and bought a pants suit and at the next interview she got hired. She is now a general manager at Microsoft.
"So the first lesson I learned as a South Asian woman is, I don't have to compromise my values, but I really need to understand how I articulate them," she said. "My value in this particular case was the need—my need—to dress modestly, and it does not have to be articulated in a particular dress. It can be articulated in dress that is more pervasive, especially when you're in an entry-level job. At that point I had not yet earned the right to be different."
In medicine or academia, certainly, women may wear their saris, added Meena Mutyala, vice president of engineering at Westinghouse. In business, however, there is no such luck. "If you want to make a statement for change [by your clothing], you're not going to succeed in corporate America," she told the group.
"You have to make sure also that you don't focus too much on the differences," Mutyala continued. "You can't wear this chip on your shoulder as a woman and as a South Asian woman because if you have a chip on your shoulder, it will show. Try to focus more on the similarities than the differences.
"You have to adapt: As Shahla just said, you have to figure out what you are willing to change and what you're not willing to change."
South Asian women in business sometimes endure stereotypes unique to Asian women, said Aly. On the one hand, they're considered very intelligent and technically adept. But on the other, they're labeled as passive and submissive, unambitious and unassertive. In the business world at least, these perceived qualities can hinder a woman's professional growth, she said.
One personal hurdle for her was overcoming the reflexive "respect for elders" that she carried from her childhood, said Aly. Once she entered the workforce, it took her at least five years, she said, to overcome the tendency to smile and nod when people who were either older or higher up in the managerial ranks had something to say. Over time, she learned to respond more forcefully.
Added Mutyala, "There is a stereotype of South Asians that we are technically very smart. But that makes it difficult to move from the technical to the managerial ranks. The reality is that we have to work harder at it."
Mutyala began her career as a physicist and now runs Westinghouse's global engineering division, where she is in charge of 470 people. She encouraged women to reflect on how they are perceived when they are assertive. Assertive women are written off as aggressive, she said, but they should not accept that label. "If you're a man and you are assertive, then you're a good leader. As women we really need to think through this and figure out how we can be assertive in a targeted manner. How do you project yourself in the organization?" she asked rhetorically.
Gita Piramal, Managing Editor of the Mumbai-based management magazine The Smart Manager, said that one of the satisfactions of being an entrepreneur is the "freedom to choose what my personal development path will be." This freedom allows her to be responsive to opportunities that come along. Women in journalism may actually have an easier time getting substantive interviews than men, at least in India where she works, she suggested. While male interview subjects might be on guard around a male journalist, they are likely to feel disarmed by a female journalist who seems confident but relaxed and non-confrontational.
Roopa Purushothaman, a Global Economist at Goldman Sachs, said her field—research—is one where her intelligence and ideas are highly valued. "Even though I work in an investment bank, I work on the research side. It's probably more like an academic community," she said. She did not know how she'd fare if she needed to regularly assert herself as in most other business environments, but she recommended that everyone use the personal style that feels natural to them.
One of the good things about being a woman of South Asian descent in the U.S. is the strong and growing network of other women with similar backgrounds and perspectives, continued Purushothaman. The South Asian Women's Leadership Forum in New York is one example of a group of women who mentor each other very well, she said.
Families here and there
South Asian and western women face a similar tightrope if they want both a career and family, said panelists. One advantage for South Asians, however, is the abundance of capable role models back home, said Aly. Middle- and upper-class women are quite accustomed to the idea of acquiring and managing help for routine chores and even childcare.
"Some things you can't outsource," Aly added. "When the children are having a concert, you can't send your nanny. ...And remember, your children have a father. ...Find a company that is more tolerant of family-work styles, and come up with a formula that works for you."
While all speakers discussed the importance of work flexibility and of marrying a supportive spouse, Mangalam Srinivasan, moderator of the panel, good-naturedly rejected the whole concept of balance. A former scientific advisor to Indira Gandhi, she is now a Harvard scholar who studies and teaches on sciences, management, and governance.
"In the West generally, and in America in particular, children seem to demand much more time with their parents," she observed. "In India, children are happy to be away from their parents. They ask their mother, 'Don't you have to go somewhere for a marriage?' As far as children complaining if you're not a stay-at-home mother, they will complain no matter what. If you stay at home, children say you should be working like other people. If you have a career, they say you have to be at home.
"Let's accept imbalances. If today is bad, maybe tomorrow will be better," she said.
Srinivasan also suggested that Indian parents in the future might be less enthusiastic about coming over to the U.S. to assist their Americanized daughters and sons in raising the grandchildren. Older Indian women are just too busy, she said. She fondly recalled a recent visit to Denmark, where she approvingly observed Danish fathers out pushing strollers and prams in the daytime, with hardly a mother to be seen.
If the American model of working and raising a family is not satisfactory, she quipped, "Remember, there's always Denmark."
|How Do We Measure ROI on Diversity?|
What problems might I expect to encounter related to championing diversity in the workplace? Also, what is a good tool to measure the return on investment of having a diverse workforce? I've heard varying accounts of whether diversity is a useful tool or merely a politically correct buzzword.
— Blending People Together, services, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Promoting the concept of diversity in the workplace is, above all, a process of education. Organizations that report the greatest success (and fewest problems) with diversity obtain maximum productivity from their total workforce. The fundamental concept that your people must understand is easy to grasp: Organizations that get maximum productivity from a wide variety of people tend to perform better than those organizations that don't.
We have not seen a valid tool for accurately measuring the return on investment in diversity, nor do we believe one exists that would work in a universal sense for most organizations. This article, Diversity's Business Case Doesn't Add Up, casts doubt on the claims of some companies that they have proved the ROI of their diversity efforts.
That is not to say that there's no business value in managing a diverse workforce well; it's just that no reliable method has been developed to measure that value definitively. That being said, if Company A has developed systems, procedures, policies and a culture that allows men and women from diverse backgrounds to succeed, while Company B's systems work only for certain types of people, it stands to reason that Company A is going to perform better. The argument needs no help from a measurement tool.
Some people will resist your effort to promote diversity, no matter how skillfully executed. Don't let that deter you. Also, don't fall into the trap of implementing diversity programs for business reasons, only to have them devolve into tools of political correctness. That would lend credence to skeptics who doubt the value of promoting workplace diversity.
More than gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation, diversity manifests itself in an almost unlimited array of dimensions. For examples, diversity can be broken down into:
Bear in mind that diversity efforts should highlight both differences as well as similarities that exist among your workers. Recognizing differences along with similarities helps you build an organization that captures the best work from all kinds of people.
Make your company a great place to work, for as wide a variety of people as possible. Avoid getting too hung up on trying to prove the ROI of diversity, and spend more time (and money) on things that simply make sense. Ultimately, being successful with diversity means nurturing a culture in which diverse people can be happy, productive and successful.
SOURCE: Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette, co-authors, Contented Cows Give Better Milk, www.ContentedCows.com, December 14, 2005.
|How Could We Better Publicize Our Jobs to Would-be Recruits?|
We have several entry-level job openings for administrative and medical assistants. The problem we face is getting qualified candidates to apply. We have tried posting on a local online job bank, as well as our own Web site, and even interviewed people referred to us by local community colleges and associate-degree programs. In six months, we've had fewer than 25 applicants, only five of whom were qualified enough to grant an interview. It doesn't seem that such positions should warrant the expense of a recruiter. How can we publicize our job openings or recruit candidates in a cost-effective way?
— Stymied, health care, Westerville, Ohio
Large or small, your recruiting needs sound important enough to your company's success to warrant a lot more attention than to simply rely on the sources you mention. If you really want to succeed without a third-party placement firm, then you have to stop thinking of yourself as a recruiter and start thinking of yourself as a talent scout.
First of all, take stock of what is really happening by collecting some data. Look at Salary.com and pretend you are the ideal candidate. Are you overpaying for the job? Search local and national job sites to see how many similar jobs are offered by firms like yours. How tough is your competition? What are competitors using for a hook? Call admissions offices at community colleges, pretending to be interested in training programs that produce top-notch graduates--the people who eventually become your best candidates. Inquire about how many students graduated from the college during the last two years, between two and five years ago, and between five and 10 years ago. Are there any alumni functions? Also, do any of your employees illustrate the types of people you want to hire? What can they tell you? Who do they know?
Second, examine what you have to offer. Be honest. Is your salary competitive? (Probably not.) Can you grow and develop into a larger company? Does the company boast competitive benefits, flexibility and a great owner? Do its services make a significant difference to customers? What you note as important had better also be important to those job candidates. And how will you know if you don't ask one or two of them?
Write a value proposition for why someone should join your firm , and why they should stay. Or even better, visit your local high school and ask the English teacher for the school's advanced-placement class to get her students to do it for you, writing about jobs with your firm using data that you supply.
Lastly, think about strategies that do more than simply identify candidates when the need arises. Instead, start building a pipeline of qualified applicants well before you need them. This may seem like extra work, but if you find two quality connections in advance, you'll fill all your key positions "just in time," either with the folks you've met or the information they provide about other job seekers. Take the chairperson of the local community college, or the professors of relevant courses, out to lunch to discuss their alumni. Contact professional associations or trade/industry organizations to which your candidates are likely to belong. If there is a local chapter, offer to become its sponsor.
The principles to finding and attracting quality candidates are always the same:
SOURCE: Gerry Crispin, SPHR, principal and chief navigator, CareerXroads, Kendall Park, New Jersey, December 5, 2005.
|How Could We Use Job Descriptions to Make More Sensible Job Evaluations?|
|We are in the process of salary reviews and currently use a point system for evaluations. How could we use job descriptions more sensibly in our job evaluation process? |
— Need Pointers for Point System, hospitality, India
Of the commonly used methods of job evaluation, the point system is the most popular. When using a point system, each job is compared with a list of predetermined job characteristics or factors and assigned point values for each factor. The job with the most points, theoretically, would be considered the most demanding or important and would, therefore, command the highest pay. Typically, the list of factors will range from five to 20 factors, including:
Once the list of job factors is defined, you can refine the process by "weighting" the factors. Doing so helps to assign the right value of each factor to the overall value of the job. This chart illustrates a typical point-factor system.
When evaluating jobs using a point system, you generally begin with a job questionnaire covering all the factors. The questionnaire is completed by the person in the job, and then reviewed by the employee's supervisor, who verifies response accuracy. Once approved, the job questionnaire forms the basis of the job description, which outlines the role and responsibilities, authority level and accountabilities of the position. The job description is designed to provide guidance to the person doing the job, as well as to future hires. It is also the key ingredient in assigning pay levels to the job on the basis of the point system. Once job descriptions are written and point scores established for each job, it is relatively easy to group similarly rated jobs into pay grades and then assign monetary values.
Here are some tips for writing job descriptions that can simplify the job evaluation process:
Remember, a slight change in job duties usually does not affect the pay grade or monetary value of a job. However, employees like to know that their input is considered, so use the performance evaluation as a time to discuss the job itself, as well as both changes in the job and the employee's performance.
SOURCE: Patsy Svare, managing director, the Chatfield Group, www.chatfieldgroup.com , Glenview, Illinois, December 16, 2005.
|How Are Companies Keeping Call Center Agents ?|
What best practices do today's top organizations use to retain their call/contact center staff?
—Calls Keep Coming, health, Jacksonville, Florida
There are numerous best practices that companies are undertaking to retain their top contact center staff.
Lately, companies have begun placing more emphasis on better hiring practices, coaching and training (for both agents and supervisors). They've also begun clarifying career paths for their employees, along with giving customers an opportunity to evaluate their experiences with call center staff. The feedback from this latter initiative is then shared with call center agents to help them build an emotional connection to both the company and its customers.
Companies are adopting approaches that give them more direct and immediate feedback from customers . Not only does this provide positive reinforcement from customers, but it also enables companies to pinpoint improvements that create job validation and satisfaction for employees.
Historically, contact centers have been viewed as production facilities and cost operations. This view is changing, and more companies are focusing on customers and on retention efforts. At the heart of these efforts is a solidly working contact center.
SOURCE: Jim Rembach, Metrics , Sterling, Virginia, December 14, 2005.