Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Data challenges and the use of informal feedback, part of Performance Review Foundations.
Everyone deserves a fair performance evaluation, right? Well, you're right, delivering a fair evaluation is your goal. But you do need to be aware of the limits of different types of data. You'll often hear people talk about the need for objective data. But the truth is that objective data about a person's performance at work is next to impossible to gather. There are exceptions. Think about sales, for example. It's easy to know how much someone did or did not sell. Similarly, for an employee who works in a manufacturing environment, you can get data on units produced, scrap, or other measures of quality or productivity.
However, when you're looking at office workers, measurement becomes far more difficult. We can and do use many types of ratings. And while useful, they're better described as subjective, not objective. Even in cases like sales or manufacturing, the objective data only covers half of what you wish to measure, which is the specific work being done. All of the things on the people side of the equation, things such as communication skills, helping behaviors, and so on, are very tough to measure.
And these issues are actually getting worse over time. We've seen a huge movement in the last few decades towards Lean Organizations. One of the defining characteristics of Lean Organizations is a flat organizational structure, with as few levels of leadership as possible. This has created an increased average span of control, or an increase in the average number of employees reporting to each manager. Well, the larger the number of people reporting to you, the more you might fall prey to cognitive biases and measurement problems when delivering employee reviews.
Let me be as clear as possible. The data you collect via your ratings, peer ratings, and other avenues is very useful data. It's just not perfect. I want you to remember this simple truth. Data is never perfect, but you can always be diligent in collecting sufficient data, and be honest in delivering data. Stated differently, you can always collect enough to increase the odds that the data really does tell you something, and you can always own your delivery, instead of hiding behind the data.
Because of all these limitations, it's sometimes useful to consider informal narrative feedback, as opposed to quantitative ratings. Let's briefly address when and how to ask for this type of additional feedback. There are really two times to go this direction. When you lack a sufficient quantity of formal data, or when you feel you might be making particularly big decisions, and you need as much data as possible. First, the quantity issue. If you have an employee who is new, which means the have a tiny track record to consider.
Or when, for some reason, you need to deliver a review, having no data from others. Then supplemental narrative feedback can be very useful. Next is the big decision issue. For example, if you suspect that the person's performance might merit a reprimand, or worse, you need to cover your bases. In contrast, if you're about to support the individual for a new promotion, or an award, documenting your case as much as possible is wise. Now, whether you're receiving informal positive or a negative feedback, but especially in the case that you suspect the feedback might be negative, please remember these important tips.
First, start by conferring with your boss and human resources, so you know the office norms and policies, before you solicit informal feedback. Next, respect anyone with whom you speak, and your employee by addressing people in private. Your goal is to collect useful data, not cause embarrassment or start rumors. Also, be sure to stress to them, that you're following HR policy, and that the chain of command is aware of your behaviors. Then if policy allows, ensure the proper use of confidentiality and anonymity.
Now, for the actual feedback collected, be sure you have your source be very specific. Names, dates, and any and all specific behaviors and outcomes that occurred. Any unnecessary generalities can cause problems for everyone down the line. Data is very useful. But it turns out it can be tricky too. You need to collect lots of formal quantitative data. But given the limitations we've discussed, you'll sometimes want additional informational narrative data. Follow the tips we just mentioned to increase your odds of collecting useful, actionable data.
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The information contained in the following course is provided with the viewer's understanding that the course should not be used as a substitute for consulting a human resource professional at your company for specific guidance. Lynda.com and LinkedIn expressly disclaim liability for any damages, loss, or risk, incurred as a direct or indirect consequence, from the use and application of any content herein.
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- Understanding the performance cycle
- Setting performance goals
- Collecting performance data and feedback
- Writing the review
- Discussing performance with an employee
- Using a performance improvement plan (PIP)<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.