Tag Archive for 'Metrics'

Objectivity in Performance Appraisals

If your reporting manager or appraiser describes you as ” a tall and well built executive ” and if you happens to measure only 167 cm height without shoes , one can reasonably assume that the reporting manager is less than 160 cm in height and has a thin body !  In a hilarious example from the Army , one reporting manager described a star performer – captain as ” he has reached his limit of performance  – meaning he has performed in an exceptionally good manner!  ” . Here it could be a matter of English Comprehension .

Performance reports are always subjective because subjects are reporting on subjects based on their perceptions and not based on true performance or goal based outcomes. If we want 100 percent objectivity , use only metrics of performance measurements without using any description – report only in numbers. The minute you start describing performance , biases set in !

If a performance appraisal system can minimize subjectivity to the extent practicable through metrics , multiple reviews at various levels and by lateral or 360 degree reviews , it will serve the purpose.

One of the major use of an appraisal system is to use it as a development tool  and this aspect needs deep thought and focus.  The development should also meet the needs of the organization and still satisfying the aspirations of the person reported upon.  If we do this properly , it can be a valuable retention tool .

Do we have the right metrics in place ?

Sometime during the late eighties , I was admitted in an Army  Hospital in Central India  for treatment of multiple fracture suffered during a vehicle accident. I happened to over hear a conversation between the Registrar of the hospital and the Superintendent who was giving the daily report to the Registrar. When the Superintendent told the Registrar that the bed occupancy was only  60 percent due to large number of discharges of patients during the last seven days, the Registrar was visibly annoyed. His response was on the following lines-

“My dear S uperintendent,you will get this hospital closed very soon. Don’t you know that The Army Standing Committee is visiting next week to review our establishment and they will reduce the staff drastically in the new authorisation if they notice the low bed occupancy. From today onwards, no patient will be discharged  without my  personal clearance.OK.”

Now, what should be a good metric for a hospital’s performance ? The bed occupancy or quality of treatment? or recovery rate of seriously ill patients?. When you look at the commercial objective , bed occupancy generates more revenue like a hotel . But is that what hospitals are meant  for? . A super market may look at the footfalls per day to measure the popularity and acceptance in a locality but individual shops will have to consider sales value per visitor to arrive at its profitability. Similarly, a service provider of  cell phones can boast of  a large market share but if the revenue per call is lower than a competitor ,the market share alone will not keep them there long.

In short,metrics should facilitate business goals both in the short term and over a longer time horizon and more important, it should also align with the laid down mission of an enterprise . All other measurements are waste of time.