It’s the end of the semester. Seniors have either landed their first “real” job in their chosen field or are choosing among multiple options. Juniors, sophomores, and freshmen are taking summer classes, working a job or internship, or enjoying some well-deserved leisure time. For professors, the focus is on assessing final projects, papers or exams, and assigning a final grade (i.e., performance evaluation).
Much of my time in the classroom is spent not only conveying the particular knowledge of the course, but also setting up the appropriate environment for students to demonstrate a proper understanding of the material.
So, what can a talent advisor learn about performance evaluation from a professor?
(Plenty. That’s the only answer for this blog post to work, people!)
1. A proper job analysis is the cornerstone of performance reviews.
For academicians, the syllabus is the crucial document that sets the tone for the entire semester. A professor must determine what the student is expected to understand and convey it through course objectives.
Similarly, you can’t hire if you don’t know the knowledge, skills, abilities and other factors, or KSAOs, required for the job, and you can’t train if you don’t know the specific KSAOs that need to be addressed. You can’t pay an employee if you don’t know what specific job attributes to reward. You certainly cannot evaluate an employee without knowing specifically what is required of him or her to do the job.
2. Communication of performance expectations is critical.
My syllabus lays out how the grade for the semester is to be determined. As a professor, I explain what each project, paper or exam is worth so that the student knows what it takes to earn the desired grade. I often include a rubric with any written assignments so that the student can figure out the distribution of points.
Are your employees aware of performance expectations? Are they clear on how to achieve the desired performance goals?
3. Assess employees for behaviors under their control.
In 1979, Domino’s Pizza created a delivery guarantee of receiving your order in “30 minutes or less” or your pizza was free. However, if one had to deliver in the middle of a snowstorm in the upper Midwest in January — or during rush hour traffic — solidifying that guarantee would be extremely difficult.
Including material on an exam that was not covered previously, or punishing a student for excessive absences with no attendance policy, would be egregious and unfair. When you assess an employee, how much of his or her performance is reliant on others or the materials with which they work? Is the job interdependent? Is teamwork a significant part of the work they perform? Examining the factors that influence performance will lead to a fairer, more equitable system.
4. Use multiple methods (and even multiple raters) to evaluate the employee.
In academia, one may want to use various methods to gauge students’ understanding. In some classes, I offer multiple evaluative options to reflect how a student learns. For instance, exams may be multiple choice or short answer. Alternatively, a student may demonstrate his or her competency in the subject area by writing a critical analysis paper on the topic to be covered.
In most jobs, an employee can apply various skills and abilities to be successful. Performance evaluations should be able to accurately identify proper use of those skills or abilities. Similarly, using peer or customer reviews, such as those in a 360-degree appraisal, may better capture satisfactory performance than using only a single observer.
Many may be reluctant to adopt some of the tips above — because it requires significant heavy lifting on the part of the talent advisor. Undertaking a job analysis or observing the employee multiple times over the course of an evaluation period takes considerable time, too. However, following my suggestions will make performance management more manageable and efficient.
Trust me. I’m a professor.
Throughout the month of June, Matthew and our other talent advisors will be dishing out their best advice on effectively managing your talent and helping them thrive. Catch up on the articles you’ve already missed. New to Talent Advisor? Sign up here to get new articles delivered to your email inbox.