By BLR Founder and Publisher Bob Brady
BLR practices what it preaches by adapting one of its own books (with a little help from Jack Welch) to evaluate its employees.
You’ve heard of surfers whose lives revolve around finding the perfect wave, or the golfer in search of the perfect round? Well, one of my quests has been a search for the perfect performance appraisal form.*
Several columns ago, I promised to share my “perfect” form with you. Well, here goes, but first some background and context:
One of BLR’s longtime best sellers is the Encyclopedia of Performance Appraisal Forms. We’ve updated that volume for almost 20 years, so I’ve seen hundreds of forms—most of them very good. Over the years, we’ve adapted several for our own use and finally arrived at one that works for us. But it’s not really the form that is good—it’s the process behind it.
List the Tasks
One factor we had to reckon with: very few jobs involve only a single skill or have just a single output measurement. A marketing manager, for example, hires staff, sets strategy, prepares budgets, oversees advertising, and so on. How do you evaluate someone who is good at advertising but makes a mess of budgets? The answer is simple. Start with a job description that lists the tasks of the job. Then use the description to evaluate each task, individually and specifically.
“Four E’s and a P”
It’s at this point that the second part of the form kicks in. In Jack Welch’s first book, he said that he evaluates people on the basis of “the 4 e’s and a p.” The four e’s are, “energy, energize, edge, and execution.” The p is “passion.” We experimented with evaluating each task against these criteria and found that it works. Not only does it provide an efficient framework for assessing performance, but it also communicates to employees in a way that helps them improve, which is the whole purpose of the appraisal.
For more information about a good source of performance appraisal samples and information, click on the following: http://hr.blr.com/human_resources/example_employee_performance_appraisals.htm
Here is how the concept plays out:
—Energy is pretty obvious. If a person hangs out at the water cooler or surfs the Internet, he or she isn’t bringing energy to the job.
—Energize speaks to such things as teamwork and the impact that the person has on the morale of others. It allows you to let an employee know that (in most jobs) their individual work product is not the be-all and end-all. If they aren’t good “people-people,” it can drag down the organization.
—Edge has to do with judgment; the quality of the employee’s decisions.
—Execution is the quality of the work.
—Passion is similar to “energy.” The difference is that it focuses on the commitment of the employee to getting the job done.
When we look at each task and evaluate against these criteria, we can document problems and communicate opportunities. But first we have to take into account how important each element is to the job in question, at the risk of “losing the forest for the trees.”
We address this, again, through the job description, which weights each job task, and then weights each “Welch factor.” In a managerial job, the weighting goes heavily to “energize” and “edge.” In a lower level job, “execution” and “energy” are more important. Thus the employee gets a sense of both what the job’s more important tasks are, then also which factors are most important to each of those tasks.
So, to implement this system, simply follow these three steps:
1. Review the job description, make sure all tasks are there, and that they’re weighted for importance.
2. Weight each major task for “the 4 e’s and a p.”
3. Evaluate each cell of the matrix, using a simple 1-5 high-to-low scoring, with appropriate comments.
Try it. It works! And if you’d like a copy of our form, e-mail me at RBrady@blr.com.
* Just to keep things in perspective, I’m trying to get my golf score down, too (though I’ll leave the surfing to others).