How Do You Measure Employee Performance?

March 20, 2012 by Stacey Barr

The one-size-fits-all approach to managing the performance of people clearly doesn’t work. And there is enough research suggesting that traditional approaches are certainly not working for everyone. At best, there are some basic flaws in how those ‘people measures’ are designed. And at worst, the whole concept of measurement of people performance is completely a waste of time.

The debate shouldn’t, in my opinion, be about which people performance management approach is the correct one. It’s more about which approach achieves the intent you have for your organisation and your people, from the points of view of all stakeholders. And this means understanding the diversity of values that people in your organisation have, and the worldview that this collectively gives your organisation as a whole.

So you won’t likely find an approach that does work for your organisation, unless you can answer quite thoroughly several important questions:

  • Why do you want to measure the performance of people?
  • What is the end result you want it to create?
  • What are the unintended consequences, or risks, of getting and having this end result?
  • What other ways could you create this end?
  • What worldview does your organisation have, and hence how is the relationship of people to the organisation understood?
  • What values do the individual people in your organisation have, and what does this say about what will really motivate them (and keep them motivated)?

Read the full version of this article here: //staceybarr.com/downloads/PeopleMeasures.pdf

TAKE ACTION: Ask those questions above of the managers and HR professionals in your organisation, document their answers and contrast and compare their responses with each other, and with the current employee performance management approach you currently have.

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  1. Lynette Mowlem says:

    Thanks Stacey, your free article, “Should you measure individual people’s performance? two schools of thought on using performance measures to manage people in organisations”, is excellent – both for the findings you’ve distilled from your analysis and for the way you’ve presented them. I’ve experienced much of what you’ve described and that’s just been the way of things for a long time and yet you’ve come up with such a new approach that clearly shows why such assessment methods won’t work. Really impressive. I hope employers everywhere pickup on this – to their advantage.

  2. Stacey Barr says:

    Thanks for leaving a comment Lynette. I’m so glad to hear of someone else who also appreciates this viewpoint, and how we really need to move away from measuring people as though they were assets.

  3. Khalifa Ajeb says:

    Thank you very much for this article. I’m working in a Government organization which vainly kept measuring people performance for years and hired countless number of consultants to do that but with no outcome. I used to ask everyone including my managers “What is the end result you want it to create?” and how this will keep me motivated but there was no valid answer. As you said, most of my colleges do things alone in order to isolate their contribution from the contributions of others and this created a deviation from organization and stakeholders goals. I will share your article with them and with anyone who wants to create and add value to the organization.

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