Gauging Employee Performance

Measuring performance is more about you, the supervisor, than it is about your employees. 

Do you believe that most people are lazy, need to be persuaded to achieve objectives and will avoid responsibility? 
Do you believe that most people like to work, will tend to be self-directed to achieve objectives and take responsibility?

Organizational psychologists will tell you that you get the behavior you deserve and gauging performance in an untrusting environment will always be a battle of different versions of the truth.

What is performance?

In athletics, performance is never a subjective judgment.  There is always a measure of distance or time and performance arguments, if any, are about who deserves to be the best not who was least worst. In the workplace this distinction can get lost.  Managers and supervisors often assume that their people know what is required without being reminded.

Unless you want to get into a debate about who thought who was doing what and when, it makes real sense to draft a list of objectives for every person in the business and ask them read, understand and agree them with their immediate supervisor.   This is an excellent foundation for measuring and rewarding performance because it removes ambiguity.  As long as the objectives meet the very simple guidelines that they are:

Specific - "I will do.." not vague "I will try…" statements
Measurable - in cost and/or quality
Achievable - set people up for success
Relevant - business and customer focused
Timebounded - to the time of day, if necessary

…you will end up with some SMART material for measuring performance.

Using this approach, it will be much easier to have a rational discussion with your employee about how they performed over a period of time.  Their performance becomes a comparison between what was expected and what was delivered. Imagine some workplace performance discussions transferred to the athletics track.  "I'm very disappointed with your performance.  You should have known when the race started, and how far you had to run without being told.  By the way I want you to improve your attitude and come in around third next time." Coaches don't do that! They talk about the detail.  They discuss the way someone performs through style, technique, tactics and strategy.  If they talk about attitude or behavior they will be much clearer about what needs to change; it might be calmness or aggression, punctuality or thoroughness in preparation.

The best way to measure performance.

Why should you be burdened with the task of monitoring the performance of all of your employees?  Tracking what each one does every hour of every day should be their responsibility.  If you don't trust them to report truthfully, why do you trust them to work on your products or deal with your customers at all? Of course, you should have a safety net.  There should be random quality checks carried out all the time as part of the company culture to ensure that your customers are not the first people to spot your failures. By far the best way to gauge the performance of your people is to have them measure what is important and report progress, or lack of progress against their objectives, in plenty of time for you to intervene if something goes wrong.  That is, after all, how your performance will be measured.


Information is for educational and informational purposes only and is not be interpreted as financial or legal advice. This does not represent a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any security. Please consult your financial advisor.