Reviews: Quantitative or qualitative measurements ?

I’m not a big believer in annual reviews because I believe we should be continually reviewed by our managers everyday.  Some companies make you do your own reviews or get feedback from everyone who works with you including the janitor but can reviews ever really be objective ?

A lot of organizations like to use quantitative numbers for reviews so they have something to measure you against but so much of what we do is qualitative and can’t really be measured by numbers or charts.   Let’s say, for example, that you improve relations between your department or group and another department whose influence or work directly effects your work.  How do you measure that with numbers ?

Then there are what I call the soft management skills that so many managers don’t seem to have yet are essential to team building.  These are really people skills and treating people as people not as employees who need to be roped in everyday.  Personally I have worked with a lot of managers who lack people skills and then they wonder why some of their best people leave.

Now, back to the review process.  I believe that reviews should be a little bit quantitative and a lot qualitative.   Here is my rationale; let’s say that the marketing team has a specific sales goal to reach as part of their objectives.  They do everything they can to achieve the sales goal but the sales department had high turnover and manufacturing has some production issues while a vendor who was supposed to deliver new labels made a mistake and had to delay shipment for 3 weeks.  Should the marketing person responsible take the hit ?  Of course not, especially if he/she did everything they could to make the numbers.  However if you stick to rating a person by numbers they are going to take a ding on their review.

What I watch for when rating people is more their business savvy skills and how they solve problems.  Today a lot of people don’t have essential business skills that are needed to work in matrix organizations.  They get impatient and just want things done but don’t get that they have to generate buy-in with key influencers.   Other people are great at telling why they couldn’t do something but not too good at telling you how they overcame obstacles and made it happen.

My management style is one more of teacher and listener and that is the way I like to manage.  I also realize that the people who work for me are people first with personal lives not just employees.  I lead by building buy-in with everyone and asking for other help and opinions even when I don’t really know them.

Review your people on how much they have grown into their jobs and how much they are starting to outgrow their jobs.  Look at the value they bring to your team but also look at the value they bring to your company.


3 thoughts on “Reviews: Quantitative or qualitative measurements ?

  1. Rich, I totally agree with you. My thoughts went immediately to the school systems and how they pay teachers according to how well the kids do on certain tests. Not all teachers have the best and brightest, in fact some teachers choose to work with the hardest kids in the school. To judge them all on how the kids score on tests is to penalize the very teachers who are working the hardest. Thanks for bringing this up.

    • Ann: That is a great example and I agree with you 100%. I’m not sure why we need to quant measure everything at a time when people dont want to be measusred

  2. I have worked for organizations where there is a form that has to be completed and not all of the categories apply to the people working there. I agree that you should have both numbers and words for being able to describe a person’s performance, but I also think that it is important to communicate the performance objectives to the person who is supposed to meet them each year. A lot of times a review is just something on the to do list and not an evaluation of whether someone has met specific goals.

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