Monday, September 14, 2009

Evaluating your Staff

It is time for our bi-yearly performance reviews here at the tech center. Most people dread the entire process of performance reviews, and some entrepreneurs have been motivated to start their own business after receiving a review that seemed to ignore all they did the last year!

Once you start your own business and have your own staff, it is easy to decide that your company is not going to do the same tired performance review. But all to0 soon, it seems as though the HR blanket falls over the company and you are filling in forms that say "Performs duties as necessary" with a five point bubble scale.

It is understandable to want to avoid the above, and you are so busy doing other things - how are you going to review your employees? Nevertheless, this does not absolve your responsibility to evaluate the employees you have working for you!

One way I like to get my hands around an issue is to create a framework across two parameters and use that to categorize. You could consider your employees according to there Usefulness/Critical skills for the organization, and whether they are likeable/good to have around. (You may have other more important criteria).

Setting these two parameters into a quadrant layout gives us the following:This gives us four categories of employees. Then work out what you want to do for each category:
  • An employee you want to keep, but is not doing a critical or very important role, you need to get them into something more useful (whether by training, promoting).
  • The difficult employee performing a critical task needs to be handled carefully until you have the chance to brings someone else into that role or at the very least, be a backup. Then you can try to change whatever it is that makes them difficult.
  • The want to keep/critical employee may not need any more than just taking care of them and being sure that what they need to do their job is gotten them.
  • The difficult/non-critical employee needs to be moved out; you don't have the time to deal with that type of employee.
Generally, you want to move employees up and to the right, that is, someone you want to keep and someone doing something important. Those in the 'want to keep' and 'less critical' roles can serve as your 'bench' for future moves into important spots. Those in the difficult and critical you might have to keep because of skills or particular need, but you are always looking for someone who can better do the work.

Again, each of these are merely types, not particular people. By using a typology though, you can look over your 5, 10 or even 20 employees and quickly sort them into categories, then come up with reasonable responses for each.

If you have an employee you can't categorize, put him or her on your list to watch a bit more closely.

The reason I like this typology is that most employees already think of the other employees as 'nice or not' and 'good worker or not' - so it gives you a rough method to start thinking proactively about your employees and where they are going in their careers at your company. Which is something you as the owner should have at hand anyway!

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