Evaluating Employees

Evaluating employees is a crucial aspect of any manager. But how do we do it? In an organizational behavior class we talked about employee performance evaluation. In the gigantic bueracracy I work in, the Army, these evaluations can mean the difference between promotions, job assignments, command opportunities, and now with the drawdown, retention. A friend posted a link to an article that looks the grading system Google uses for its employees. (In the comment section, there were many complaining that other companies, started using it first. Who cares who started it, it’s one potential way for employeers to evaluate their employees.) Google uses a system called, Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs. It is a pretty interesting idea. The first step in an OKR is establish an objective which should be measurable. For example, I want to improve patient satisfaction of the pharmacy by 10%, rather than I want to make the pharmacy more efficient. Second, set some key results that can help you hit this objective, and once again, these should also be measurable. Continuing our example, key results might be, reduce wait times to under 10 minutes, open everyother Saturday, establish a drop box for new prescriptions, etc. The article mentions that employees should have 4 to 6 OKRs per quarter. Anymore and the person may not give each OKR due process. At the end of each quarter, the employee grades their key results from 0 to 1, with the target being between 0.6 to 0.7.

No evaluation system is perfect, but this idea is one way to do an evaluation objectively. This technique puts measurable key results with measurable objectives. By focusing on what is really important and how we get there, the organization is better because we can see where our energy is focused, and adjust as needed. In the Army, we seem to get pushed in many directions, unsure of what the priorities need to be. To get past this, top leadership’s OKR needs to be public, and down the line, employees OKRs should be nested in order to support leadership’s objectives. The key however is setting objectives and key results that are measurable. Being measurable, allows us to objectively evaluate whether or not we reached our goal. There is a difference between saying I want to increase business and saying I want to increase profit by 10% compared to last quarter. Only in the latter statement do you know if you ever got there.


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