Tag Archives: strengths

Reinventing Performance Management to Reduce Bias: Strengths, Future Focus, Frequent Feedback

Steven Scullen

Steven Scullen

Most performance management systems set goals at the beginning of the year and determine variable compensation by rating accomplishment of those objectives.

These evaluations typically are considered in lengthy “consensus meetings” in which managers discuss the performance of hundreds of people in relation to their peers – sometimes called “stack ranking,” or more cynically “rank-and-yank.”

Michael Mount

Michael Mount

These year-end ratings don’t provide “in-the-moment” and “real-time” feedback about actual performance as it happens, so may be less useful in improving performance.

Assessing skills produces inconsistent data based on raters’ own skills in that competency and the value they attach to each performance objective, leading to unconscious bias.

Maynard Goff

Maynard Goff

This risk to performance rating validity was demonstrated by Drake University’s Steven Scullen, Michael Mount of University of Iowa, and Korn Ferry’s Maynard Goff, who considered 360 degree performance evaluations by two bosses, two peers, and two subordinates for nearly 4500 managers.

They found that three times as much rating variance was explained by individual raters’ idiosyncratic evaluation choices, rather than actual performance.

Manual London

Manual London

Sources of bias include halo error, leniency error, and organizational perspective based on current role, suggested by SUNY’s Manuel London and James Smither of LaSalle University, and validated by Scullen’s team.

These findings led the researchers to conclude “Most of what is being measured by the ratings is the unique rating tendencies of the rater. Thus ratings reveal more about the rater than they do about the ratee,” replicating similar findings by University of Georgia’s Charles Lance, Julie LaPointe and Amy Stewart.

Ashley Goodall

Ashley Goodall

To mitigate these biases in Deloitte’s performance management system, Ashley Goodall of Deloitte Services LP engaged Marcus Buckingham, formerly of The Gallup Organization, to analyze existing practices and develop an empirically-validated approach.

Goodall and Buckingham calculated the total annual hours required to conduct performance ratings using the existing process and found that managers invested 2 million hours a year.
This finding confirmed that one goal in revising the process was to increase speed and efficiency.

Marcus Buckingham

Marcus Buckingham

In addition, Goodall and Buckingham sought to increase the meaningfulness of performance management by focusing on discussions about future performance and careers rather than on the appraisal process.

They concluded a performance management system should be characterized by:

  • Reliable performance data, controlling for idiosyncratic rater effects,
  • Speed to administer,
  • Ability to recognize performance,
  • Personalization: “One-size-fits-one”,
  • Considering actions to take in response to data,
  • Continuous learning and improvement.

Deloitte logoDeloitte conducted a separate controlled study of 60 high-performing teams including almost 1300 employees representing all parts of the organization compared with an equal number of employees from an equivalent sample to determine questionnaire items that differentiate high- and lower-performing teams.

They found that performance and related compensation allocations could be more accurately based on managers’ statements about their intended future actions toward each employee rather than asking about team members’ skills.

Several items accounted for the vast majority of response variation between top performing groups and others, particularly At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.”

Now Discover Your StrengthsBusiness units whose employees said they “strongly agree” with this item were substantially more likely to be more productive, earn high customer satisfaction scores, and experience low employee turnover.

Other powerful predictors of performance were:

  • I have the chance to use my strengths every day,
  • My coworkers are committed to doing quality work,
  • The mission of our company inspires me.

Deloitte’s revised performance management system asks team leaders to rate four items on a 5-point scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree” or yes-no at the end of every project or once a quarter:

  • Given what I know of this person’s performance, and if it were my money, I would award this person the highest possible compensation increase and bonus [measures overall performance and unique value],
  • Given what I know of this person’s performance, I would always want him or her on my team [measures ability to work well with others],
  • This person is at risk for low performance [identifies problems that might harm the customer or the team],
  • This person is ready for promotion today [measures potential].

These responses provide a performance snapshot that informs but doesn’t completely determine compensation.
Other factors include project assignment difficulty and contributions other than formal projects, evaluated by a leader who knows each individual personally or by a group considering data across several groups.

In addition, every team leader prioritizes once-weekly “check-ins” with each employee to ensure that priorities are clear and progress toward them is consistent.

Strengthfinder 2.0

Strengthfinder 2.0

Goodall and Buckingham opined that “radically frequent check-ins are a team leader’s killer app to recognize, see, and fuel performance,” in addition to using a self-assessment tool that identifies each team members’ strengths and enables sharing with teammates, team leader, and the organization.

These three “interlocking rituals” of the weekly check-in, quarterly or project-end performance snapshot, and annual compensation decision enable a shift from retrospective view of performance to more “real-time” coaching to support performance planning and enhancement.

Deloitte’s approach seeks a “big data“ view of each person’s organizational performance and contribution rather than the “simplicity” of a small data view summarized in a single stack-rank number.

-*How do you develop a “Big Data” view of people’s performance?

-*How do you enable continuous, “in-the-moment” performance feedback instead of once-a-year retrospective view?

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Career Navigation by Embracing Uncertainty

John Krumboltz

John Krumboltz

John Krumboltz of Stanford echoes the message in an earlier blog post, Is Career “Planning” Actually Career “Improvisation”? in his book, Luck is No Accident: Making the Most of Happenstance in Your Life and Career  Luck is no accident

He notes that people can’t control outcomes of unpredictable life and career situations, but he advocates paying attention to thoughts and actions that hinder progress toward goals — and to modify them with small steps.

Related Post:
Creating Productive Thought Patterns through “Thought Self-Leadership”

Increased mindful attention to habitual patterns can set the conditions for desired outcomes by planning contingencies for undesirable eventualities.

Part of this process is being:

  • Open to possibilities that diverge from an original plan
  • Willing to consider unexpected opportunities
  • Able to risk mistakes and rejection.

This may see demanding and undesirable for goal-directed people with a plan, but Krumboltz’s research demonstrates the effectiveness of these guidelines and other familiar recommendations:

  • Research areas of interest
  • Network
  • Ask for what you want
  • Keep learning
Daniel Pink

Daniel Pink

Similarly, Daniel Pink advises flexibility in career “planning” in his anime-like The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need and questions whether there can be a career “plan”, given many unpredictable possibilities.The Adventures of Johnny Bunko

Like Peter Drucker and Donald Clifton before him, Pink urges building on existing strengths and finding ways to compensate for less strong areas, rather than investing effort in remedying them.

Donalid Clifton

Donalid Clifton

In addition to familiar suggestions – persist in taking on ambitious challenges while learning from them – he recommends focusing on solving problems for others, and finding a niche to deliver valuable results.Now Discover Your Strengths

This service-orientation pays dividends as a career development strategy and in “making a difference” in the community and one’s family.

DrivePink’s later book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us ,   draws on Frederick Herzberg’s delineation of intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.

Frederick Herzberg

Frederick Herzberg

People are motivated, Pink says, by career roles that provide opportunities for:

  • Autonomy, exerting control over work content and context
  • Mastery, improving skill in work over time through persistence, effort, corrective feedback
  • Purpose, participating in an inspiring goal

Related Post:
Finding Work You Love, Measuring Your Life

Pink’s TED Talk demonstrates his passionate advocacy for replacing traditional rewards and recognition with “Motivation 2.0” that provides opportunities for autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Edward Deci - Richard Ryan

Edward Deci – Richard Ryan

Draw on strengths

Pink cites Edward Deci’s and Richard Ryan‘s Cognitive Evaluation Theory (CET) that investigated variability in intrinsic motivation, and Deci’s Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation which advised managers to adopt “autonomy-supportive”   behaviors to encourage employees’ intrinsic motivation.Why we do what we do

These varied studies suggest the value of flexibility in career “planning” to capitalize on serendipitous opportunities, and seeking work roles that:

  • Draw on strengths
  • Enable intrinsic motivators like autonomy, purpose, mastery, and affiliation, instead of focusing primarily on monetary or status rewards.

-*How do you navigate your career in the face of incomplete information about future outcomes?

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