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February 29, 2012

Changing Ideas of Performance Assessment in the Workplace

by MavenSocial

This week I was reading an article by Tammy Erickson, an author of books such as Retire Retirement, Plugged In, and What’s Next, Gen X? She is the author or co-author of five Harvard Business Review articles and the book Workforce Crisis.

The article explained the changing environment of organizational performance assessment.  Currently in many organizations, performance assessment has been based on an individual’s performance on their individual tasks, leading to a silo effect that left people scurrying to their desks and keeping their heads down, avoiding conflict at all costs.  This form of assessment takes place one to two times per year.

This led to an understanding that it was the individual’s responsibility to do a “good job”.

Is a “good job” all that we want to ask of ourselves and the people we work with?  Is not collaboration, and sometimes conflict,

Working in teams increases ownership and collaboration

more rewarding than individual “good” work?  It is in those frustrated group discussions that true genius arises.  We are far more successful with the pooled talents of all, than with the “good” work of the individual.

In terms of assessment, peer feedback can help employees receive the feedback they need to help themselves grow, and understand how important their role is in the overall success of the organization.  Ownership and responsibility are excellent motivators!  An on-going or day-to-day assessment by team-members can lead to increased accountability and ownership.

Erickson explained that “the optimum approach for performance management in an environment that depends on extended collaboration requires that team members have significant input into the determination of contribution. There are two primary options:

1) Team-based, but with the ability of the team to choose members or throw non-performing members “off the bus,” (employed by Whole Foods) or

2) Individual-based, but with the ability of peers to assess the individual’s contribution to the success of the mission (employed by IDEO).”

No longer can employees simply work in their own little silos, keeping their heads down and dodge conflict. It’s about collaboration!

It is also understood that sometimes an individual’s work, or lack thereof can be overlooked during team collaboration. Therefore, it is important to have group feedback on individual performance.

Perhaps the most successful strategy is the adoption of a performance management approach based on peer feedback and the most likely to create significant cultural change.

Does your organization employ a specific assessment program?  How has it worked for you?

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