It can be difficult to assess which employees under-perform and the reasons why they are not meeting their expected targets. But a guideline developed by senior partner at Personnel Works Paul Kearns should help you pinpoint problem areas
If you or your organisation really want to take performance measurement seriously then there needs to be an agreed framework installed so that everyone is working to the same blueprint.
But I am not talking about common appraisal forms or the need for job evaluation. The framework needs to encapsulate the company's philosophy on performance, adhere to the principles of performance measurement and management and simultaneously offer a practical basis for implementation.
You might wonder what wonderfully sophisticated system could possibly fulfil all of these requirements. It is a framework that has been around for a long time, and it is usually referred to as a frequency distribution curve. For the time being I will refer to it as a normal, performance distribution curve, otherwise known as a bell shaped curve. One is shown overleaf.
The performance measurement curve
But how do you construct a frequency distribution curve and what does it tell us? If you asked everyone in your organisation for their shoe size the theory of probability suggests that they will range from very small to very large. If you actually charted the range of shoe sizes on the X-axis and the number of employees, of each size, on the Y-axis, there is a very good chance that the curve would look like the one on page 22. Most employees would have average sized feet and there would be a smaller number, at each extreme with very small or very large shoe sizes. That is all a distribution curve does.
I could go further and suggest that, whatever you measure, there is likely to be a similar distribution curve - height and weight for instance. So, if this is a fundamental law, would it hold true for measuring the performance of employees?
I asked one group of managers to score their staff on a simple one to 10 basis, just to see if it produced this curve. This was after having already given them guidelines that scores of less than three are indicating that an employee's performance is unacceptable and more than eight is a superior performance.
An HR director, present at the time, was horrified that this was being suggested in a rather cavalier manner without usin