Employee Performance: From Both an Inside and Outside View

January 5, 2012

Today’s post was written by Carol Pollack, Vice President of Finance & Operations.


 “No supervisor can get a full picture of an employee’s performance, and outside input provides another source of data on which to learn and grow.” – Patricia Baker, President &  CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health).

Previously, I outlined the purpose of our Performance Management Process (PMP) and its key components.  In this blog, I want to talk about why we go beyond the traditional supervisor and employee self-evaluation to include peer and third-party input. That’s right – we interview fellow employees, and also folks outside of our organization about each employee to get a complete picture of the employee in question.

To review: we think of our PMP in two ways, 1) as a means to measure past performance, but more importantly 2) as a way to develop our staff.  As such, there are elements that discuss lessons learned and articulate areas for future emphasis and development.  We believe this is key to our success as a learning organization.

To prepare for the forward-looking discussions we must know what was achieved during the past year and whether the means for doing this was consistent with our  core principles.  In part this knowledge is garnered from an employee’s self-assessment and the supervisor’s exposure to the employee’s work and behavior.  We also believe that an employee’s “customers,” their partners outside of the organization and their peers within, are a critical source of this information.

To gather this third party input, we do two things:

  • A survey of the employee’s supervisor, direct reports and staff peers regarding work skills and practices (e.g., planning and decision-making) and behaviors (e.g., caring and respectful and receptive to diverse opinions)
  • Interviews with ten people from outside the organization and members of our board of directors on the employee’s ability to link their work with them to the foundation’s mission, communicate effectively, work collaboratively, etc.

Findings from this provide rich learning for the individual and insights for the foundation on how to increase our effectiveness.

Examples of input received include:

  • Peer assessments on perceived effectiveness in planning, organizing tasks, communicating objectives and priorities, making quality decision and completing initiatives on time.
  • Colleague perceptions on their ability to seek input on initiatives from a wide range of sources and use this to develop improved solutions.
  • Observations about the nature of interactions with others and the impact this has on collaboration and team effectiveness and morale.
  • Identification of any behavior changes that would lead to improved cultural competency and inclusivity.

Individuals are able to highlight areas of strength and those where skills can be developed or behaviors modified.  The organization can identify organizational training needs and opportunities where improved communication can enhance effectiveness and partnerships within and outside of the foundation.

Seeking this input and putting it to work are time consuming and anxiety provoking at times, but we think this has been a good investment.  I’m interested to hear if you have tried this, other means you might employ to get similar input or any suggestions you might have for how we can build on this.

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