Measuring Employee Performance

By: Robin McKay

Check out any organisational textbooks and you will always find that one of the core definitions of management is that of 'organisational control'. This process ensures an organisation pursues its strategies and actions to enable it to achieve its goals.

Management control is centred on four basic questions:

What has happened?
Why has it happened?
Is it going to continue?
What are we going to do about it?

The first question is always answered by performance measures. Once we understand what has happened in the organisation we have a base to address questions 2, 3, and 4.

The performance measures used to determine what has happened internally and externally with the organisation are usually always based on two dimensions; competitive advantage and financial performance.

Unfortunately, this is where the 'buck stops' in most organisations. The reason is that the "bottom line school" usually controls this process (apologies to the financial controllers!). Measurement of performance is stuck in the money groove.

Organisational performance is based on the pre-eminence of money measurement in the commercial world - things like state of annual accounts, budget forecasting, cost variances etc. Whilst I agree that these are very important measures, they only present a one-dimensional view of the organisation's activity and are usually always historic.

Professor R.S. Kaplan at the Harvard Business School states: "...if senior managers place too much emphasis on managing by financial numbers, the organisation's long term viability becomes threatened."

Understanding the core competencies required by the job functions within the organisation and selecting, developing, training and measuring people against these competencies will naturally lead to better financial performance and competitiveness.

Unfortunately, non-financial indicators are usually never measured. Sales Management is a classic example. Managers are fixated on measuring financial performance - did we meet this week's target? Competitive performance - what is our market share? Once again this is the "what has happened?" mentality. The Sales Manager also needs to understand the "how and why" and this is centred on the actual sales person ability to deliver on their core sales competencies. For example, how does each person's behaviour on a daily, weekly, monthly basis rate in respect of these sales competencies?

Customer Focus
Resilience
Persuading to Buy
Planning and Organising
Relationship Management etc

Measuring people against core competency models aligned to the specific role is a key performance measure that should come first. This will enable managers to answer questions 2 through 4 detailed above. Get these right and the financial and competitive measures will naturally fall into place

How To Measure Non -Financial Performance

The first port of call is to determine what core competencies (performance factors) are required for a specific role. Usually these number about 8 to 12. At AssessSystems we have a competency library of 38 and a highly validated process that asks people who are doing the job to develop their job competency model. If you already have a model we can align this to our system so you can start using this for selection, development and performance management.

From here, the competency model(s) becomes the HR base for selecting new employees; identifying strengths and weaknesses of current employees to better target training, mentoring and coaching need for development purposes and finally measuring performance through 360 feedback and setting up ongoing monitoring.

Financial and competitive information is important. It tells about the outcome of what was done. The measuring of people based on the competencies required to perform the job will tell us why and how it was done.

Using the ASSESS profiling platform, we take two measures first up - an individual development report. This assessment measures the innate personality and mental abilities of the person as they relate to the customised competencies required for the job. The development report is only done once; it tells us the why and how (a person does it).

We then conduct a 360-feedback survey using the same competency model. Each competency is represented by about 5 behaviours. We ask the employee and their boss, direct reports and peers to rate them on those work behaviours. This tells us how they do it.

Taking these two pieces of information and sitting down with the employee and management will give a clear picture on were we need to concentrate development and where overlooked strengths can be utilised. A development plan is then put into place. This intervention is then measured, say, in 6, 9 or 12 months time via the ASSESS 360 Focus (using only the competencies we want to develop) for improvement.

The ASSESS system also has a performance management tracking platform that can monitor the agreed interventions along with the 'hard' KPIs.

In closing, financial and competitive measures are important, but this is a bit like putting the cart before the horse. Get the right people in the right roles by aligning their abilities to the required job competencies (ASSESS Selection Report), then developing them around these competencies (ASSESS Development Report) and finally monitoring their ongoing performance (ASSESS 360 and ASSESS Review) and the end result will come naturally.

To understand more about the ASSESS platform for measuring your most important assets go to www.assess-systems.com/professional/nz

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Human Resources
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