So now you’ve seen my “20 Questions” method for employee performance reviews. I’ll make the spreadsheet available through this blog; please use responsibly and give proper credit. By “responsible” use I mean adopting a level of transparency with your employees as to what you value and how you are going to measure it. I have been told that one multinational corporation rates all of its people as A-, B-, C-, or D-level performers, but never discloses to those employees what grade they got. Don’t be that corporation.
I am not advocating self-esteem camp where everyone gets a gold star and a pat on the head either. My system assigns points to each answer for the 20 questions and totals those points up. I don’t hide behind letter grades or grade on a curve either. In the PEAC system, if you get 51 points or less I advocate discharge before more damage is done to the organization or the employee’s mental health. Such a low score indicates a person ill- suited to their assignment who will likely be much happier doing something else.
If you get below 60 points, I rate you as a “fix-or-fire” employee. Frequently these low scores are another sign of a poor job “fit” or, if a recent phenomenon, personal issues that have to be dealt with. Fix-or-fire people need a short leash and some tough love. A definite “action plan” has to be dictated and lack cooperation with that plan needs to result in discharge.
Moving up on the scale, 60 to 69 points makes for a “trainable” employee. There are signs of interest here that can be nurtured into better performance in the future. Another type of action plan is required for “trainable” employees. Instead of being dictated, it has to be negotiated and agreed upon between the supervisor, employee, and the company. Provided the company follows through on its role in the plan, the employee can acquire the skills needed to become a long term team member.
The 70 to 79 point cohort are “keepers” in my book. Not everyone has to love their job. Those who are reliable performers in the office or shop shouldn’t live in fear that their livelihood is in danger if they don’t change. Good supervision may make them want to improve; there is nothing wrong with asking if they would like additional training or a different assignment. Tying salary increases to improvement is very fair too.
I rate the 80 to 89 point group as star performers. Think of them as the stars on a sports team. Their actions on a daily basis have much to do with how well the organization handles its business. Not enough stars — projects fall behind. These are the people you know you can count on and their compensation should reflect their importance to the team.
Those 90 to 100 point employees are the superstars of your squad. As high achievers they may be subject to bullying by co-workers; they might be a bit thin-skinned. Either way, every company needs a few superstars and they have to be carefully handled. But no matter how talented, some superstars are not a good “fit” for some teams. These guys and gals may be the most difficult people on the team, but the place wouldn’t be the same without them. Occasionally you have to ask that classic question:
“Are we better off with — or without them?”