Assessing and evaluating performance

by Global Expert Systems

The Six Pillars of Talent Management

The popular magazine and most literature on the subject will all invariably refer to some version of the six pillars or tenets of Talent Management. According to the Talent Management mag, these pillars are as follows:

1. Recruitment and retention;

2. Assessment and evaluation;

3. Compensation and benefits;

4. Performance management;

5. Learning and development;

6. Succession planning.

If the above are the pillars, we will contend that for talent to be most effective it must rest on the foundation of a clear corporate vision and strategy, buy-in from senior management, together with systems, policies and procedures that are objective, transparent and fair. GES also supports the use of technology and modern software applications, for there’s no getting around this in today’s world.

So, today we will focus a little on the second pillar — assessment and evaluation. Further, we state that if talent management is ultimately about hiring and retaining the right persons, then there must be some form of ongoing assessment and evaluation of the employee’s performance. The reasoning behind this is quite simple. Performance evaluation has a number of functions:

1. Reinforce the core values of the organisation;

2. Align job function to the employee skill set;

3. Highlight areas for self-improvement and professional development;

4. Uncover the need for training and development within the organisation;

5. Highlight the gaps and requirements for talent within the organisation;

6. Inform strategies for compensation, pay and promotion aligned to performance.

Now, of the six pillars we mentioned above, one can clearly see why performance evaluation would be one of the most contentious, if not the most controversial within the organisation. This is so because of issues of perceived fairness or lack thereof, bias, inconsistency, objective systems and procedures and a whole myriad of other problems commonly associated with this practice. So we ask the question, is some kind of evaluation better than no evaluation at all?

Well, the GES consulting position is clear and standard on this question. Performance evaluation is a must and an effort-reward system should always be linked to it, if not it simply defeats the purpose. It is important to note that ultimately the reward system should be aligned to the organisation’s mission, out of which the key performance indicators will originate.

Additionally, GES recommends procedures and systems that are agreed upon by all and that are clearly accepted to be fair and objective. Of course, some kind of benchmarking is required and it is wise to shop around and to do the necessary research when thinking about implementing performance evaluation.

The 360 Degree Assessment Model

GES supports the 360 degree assessment model where the employee is evaluated by self, a manager, a peer, an external party and a subordinate.

The benefits of 360 degree assessments:

1. The elimination of one-sided or top down assessment;

2. It’s easier to detect inconsistencies;

3. The employee is a lot more comfortable with this model because s/he is assessed from all angles;

4. They inspire a sense and fairness and justice;

5. They tend to be more transparent since it may be more difficult for assessors to collude and conspire.

6. They tend to be user-friendly and driven by software.

In addition to this, there is currently a lot of debate on whether or not a 360 assessment should be anonymous. Our position is that for strict employee performance evaluation, anonymity, where and when it’s possible, is highly recommended. However, the 360 model is also now very commonplace as a competency assessment tool. Here GES would recommend a little bit more openness and suggest that employees play an active role in selecting those who will assess them, though we give the final sign-off to management.

Like most forms of evaluation or critique, it is extremely important to temper the feedback process since most of us are not good at handling negative opinion. For this reason, performance evaluations should be conducted by persons who have been trained to engage and dialogue with employees when it comes to critique, however good or bad.

Finally here are some more recommendations to give legitimacy to performance evaluation within your organisation:

* Always link evaluation to some tangible or visible output:

o Reward

o Promotion

o Salary increase

o Training and development

* Make sure that all stakeholders are involved in and buy into the performance evaluation your organisation chooses to implement. This is especially so if your staff is unionised. Do make sure that your union representatives have agreed to your policies and procedures.

* Do not overlook the need for counselling since, oft times, a performance evaluation may reveal personality traits and behaviours that are truly unknown to the employee being assessed. And this can have dire consequences for both the employee and the organisation if not handled well.

All in all, talent management will not be effective without performance evaluation as this is one of the mainstays and a true and tested pillar of this practice.

Next week we will start an exciting three-part sub-series on: “The Talent Management Challenge – Managing multi-generations in today’s Caribbean workplace – PART I”

Don’t miss 1st Caribbean & Latin American Conference on Talent Management on September 25th at the Savannah Hotel, Barbados and September 26th at the Kapok Hotel, Trinidad. Feel free to visit Global Expert Systems online at or email us at for more information.

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