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  • Defining, Measuring, and Improving Employee Performance

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    How to Measure and Evaluate Employee Performance Data

    When you measure something—such as for a recipe or a construction project—it’s often a numbers game. But when measuring human performance, you must use a combination of hard numbers and soft intuitive insights.

    Here are a few ways to measure and evaluate employee performance data:

    • Graphic rating scales. A typical graphic scale uses sequential numbers, such as 1 to 5, or 1 to 10, to rate an employee’s relative performance in specific areas. Scales are often used to rate behavioral elements, such as "understands job tasks" or "participates in decision-making." Or they could note the frequency an employee performs a certain task or behavior, such as “always,” “frequently,” “occasionally,” or “never” coming to work on time. You can adapt scales to your business needs.
    • 360-degree feedback. This well-named system takes into account the feedback, opinions and assessments of an employee’s performance from the circle of people in the company with whom they work. It can include co-workers, supervisors and others. As you evaluate the input from many sources, you can note similarities and trends, both positive and negative, and identify areas that may need additional measurements and support.
    • Self-Evaluation. Asking an employee to evaluate her own performance can be very effective. Often, employees may be more critical of their performance than you might be. You can use a form that requires multiple-choice answers, essay-type answers, or a combination of the two. Comparing a self-evaluation to your own objective appraisal can be helpful in finding similarities and discrepancies and provide a richer understanding of employee’s performance. It can generate conversations that can be beneficial to employee development.
    • Management by Objectives (MBO). Also known as “management by results,” this is a process whereby employees and managers jointly determine individual objectives, how they align with company goals, and how performance will be measured and evaluated. MBO gives employees a clear understanding of what’s expected and allows them to participate in the process, which may foster better communication and increase motivation.
    • Checklists. Using a simple “yes-no” checklist is a quick and easy way to identify employees that have deficiencies in various performance areas, or who need additional training and knowledge to become more efficient.
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    • Remember that any employee performance measurement is merely a snapshot of how the employee is doing at a particular point in time. Comprehensive performance reviews should be based on an average of snapshot measurements compiled over time.
    • Some organizations see performance appraisals as a continuous process, rather than an annual event. Regular feedback can keep the ship from veering too far off course by identifying problems early and developing solutions that can evolve more organically.
    • For detailed guidance in aligning employee performance goals with those of your organization, download this handbook for measuring employee performance PDF published by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.