This article will introduce you to the concept of personnel assessment in the organization, explain why process-centric assessment is just as important as assessment based on results, and provide examples of employee competency assessments.
Today we want to talk about employee assessment in a purely practical sense: using examples, we’ll discuss what a Performance Review template should look like and tell you what the results of its use are.
Personnel Assessment Methods
There are two basic approaches to evaluating employee performance:
- Results-based: you assign a certain task to your employee, and you know the outcome you want to see. If the employee achieves the result on time, well done. If they fail, bad for them. This approach is the basis of one of the most popular tools for personnel management: KPIs.
- Process-centric: a more advanced model that is used to track not only the actual result, but also the employee’s progress toward it.
We are going to focus on the second option, since the first one is bound to leave you with serious gaps in your awareness regarding the state of affairs in your own company.
Why is process-centric personal assessment important?
We have an interesting story for you that happened around a year ago. One of our clients who owns a niche marketing agency decided to install Kickidler employee monitoring software. The reason behind that decision was quite simple and prosaic: he suspected that someone on his staff was leaking client base to their competitors. Clients who had previously agreed to work with the company would leave the projects for flimsy reasons, and that was starting to happen on a frequent basis.
To get to the bottom of the situation, our client installed Kickidler covertly (as a rule, we don’t recommend this type of monitoring, but it may be justified when there is a strong suspicion of unscrupulousness on the part of the employees). After a month of monitoring, it was clear that there were no insiders among the employees – the so-called “interception” of clients was happening due to a subcontractor, and that was taken care of a little later. However, during this monitoring period the business owner noticed a rather peculiar pattern.
We should note here that the agency was using KPIs as criteria for personnel assessment. At the time of Kickidler’s installation, the owner had a solid comprehension of what his employees were capable of and how they performed. His team consisted of:
- two “leaders”: managers who always got things done on time;
- two “average” employees: they usually managed to complete their tasks, but there were also occasional problems with them;
- one “underperformer”: he would regularly miss deadlines and always teetered on the brink of being fired.
So the owner expected to see a similar pattern in the productivity reports, which were supposed to show that his two leading employees were working hard, average specialists were working a little less, but they were making an effort, and the underachieving employee was procrastinating or just couldn’t cope with the workload due to his incompetence.
In reality, the situation was greatly different:
- The first “leader” was indeed working really hard, no surprises there.
- The second “leader” ... was actually dumping some of his work on the “underachiever”! He would delegate to the struggling employee the most time-consuming and routine processes, like calculating campaign budgets or conducting follow-up evaluations. As it turned out later, he was exploiting that specialist, trying to reason it with the fact that “you are relatively new here and you’re kind of lagging behind – if I don't smooth things over with the management for you, you’ll lose your job." As a result, this so-called “high achiever” spent enormous amounts of his working time on social networks.
- One of the “average” employees spent only 20-30% of his work time on job-related tasks. He completed assignments rather quickly, but was in no rush to be among the front-runners, preferring to spend most of his workdays resting or working on his own projects.
- The “underperforming” employee was working himself into the ground, forced to handle both his own and the leader’s workload.
Ultimately, modern personnel assessment methods – automated monitoring of work processes, as opposed to KPI tracking – revealed both growth points and serious issues within the company.
The situation was resolved rather delicately: the owner started to supervise tasks more closely, unobtrusively checking the “leader” and at the same time entrusting the “average” employee with more interesting and challenging projects. Later on the owner made an official announcement about the Kickidler’s implementation, and that ultimately solved the problem of overloading the “underperformer” with assignments and simultaneously motivated the “average” specialists to work harder.
How exactly will employee performance review help you?
Monitoring employee work performance allows you to identify:
- Problem areas. You’ll see exactly which ones of your employees are procrastinating, which ones are overloaded with tasks and can barely handle everything, who’s experiencing a burnout, and who’s cheating in one way or another. Everything might look fine on paper in terms of achieving certain metrics and KPIs, but in reality you could be heading toward disaster.
- Growth points. You can most certainly maximize the performance of most of your employees, often for the same paycheck. You just need to figure out who is better suited for what tasks, what motivates your team, and which employees have the potential for growth. Certain employees whom you’ve labeled as mediocre might actually be prospective leaders, without you being aware of it.
Personal observation is not suitable in this case, since it tends to provide biased information. You can’t stand over the shoulder of your every employee 24/7 – good thing Kickidler can. All that is left for you to do is to structure and process the data you receive.
Employee assessment template
As a matter of fact, the built-in Kickidler reports will suffice for operational monitoring. But in order to evaluate the situation from a strategic point of view, we recommend that you do a full-fledged review once in a while – for example, every quarter – to assess your subordinates’ current performance and their potential for substantial growth.
This kind of reporting may contain the following elements:
- Data from the previous report (to be used for comparison). It can be brief and concise; the main thing here is to assess the dynamics.
- Summary of the employee’s responsibilities: what the person is supposed to do and what they are NOT supposed to do (dividing the tasks into “mandatory tasks” and “additional responsibilities” categories is very useful for understanding the situation).
- Average productivity over the specified period, based on Kickidler reports.
- Economic results: achieving KPIs if you use them or other methods of measuring the value that the employee brings to the company (e.g., number of sales over that period).
- Problem areas: procrastination, tendency to be late, low focus on work – using Kickidler, you can actually see complete picture of the workday of each employee, noting what their particular problems are.
Then, based on that data, you set goals for the next time period for each one of your employees.
If needed, you can supplement the basic elements of the report with any other criteria that are important to your company’s employee assessment system: engagement, adaptability, commitment, communication, other soft skills, etc. Refine the template as much as you need to, but always try to emphasize a few core points at the beginning – they will be enough for a quick strategic assessment.
How to use employee performance review to improve business operations
The first approach is obvious: based on the results of evaluating the performance of your subordinates, you can make appropriate managerial decisions, such as reallocating tasks, shifting work schedules, determining new motivation methods, and so on.
But there is another option: you can use employee assessment as one of the new methods to motivate your team. This is quite an intriguing and effective method, especially if you encourage healthy competition between employees. We’ve tested the effectiveness of this approach on ourselves.
For quite some time Kickidler sales team was competition-driven. Once a month we summed up the results of the previous period, and the most effective employee received an additional bonus. To determine our champion, we used the Performance Review report we created using the above-mentioned example of the employee assessment template.
And here’s an interesting fact for you: for three months in a row, the employee who had the highest productivity according to Kickidler reports coincidentally was the one who received the bonus. Of course, this indicator was not the only one in our Performance Review report – and it wasn’t even the decisive factor – yet it was proven to have a strong correlation with the overall final grade.
The key thing to remember is that everyone is different, and your employees may require a different approach. Employee monitoring with the help of Kickidler is definitely suitable for everyone – just like basic elements of the personnel assessment template are relevant for any company. At the same time, you should decide how to deal with the information obtained on a personal case-by-case basis, taking into account specific aspects of your business and your team.