What Does It Take to Get a "5" on My Performance Evaluation?
By Marnie Green
Jul 26, 2011 - 11:14:56 PM
Consider these suggestions when answering employee’s questions about obtaining higher rating scale marks.
If you are responsible for completing
performance evaluations for employees, be prepared to answer the age-old
question: "What does it take to
get a ____ rating?" Regardless of the scale used in your organization's
performance management system, employees will either ask you or wonder what
they have to do to earn higher ratings. This is especially the case if higher
ratings translate into higher pay. As a manager, you are the only person who
can answer this question.
To answer, consider the following truths:
Employees deserve a clear and specific answer. If you can't explain
the difference between 3-level performance and 4-level performance, how can the
employee, in good faith, make an effort to achieve higher levels of
performance? "I'll know it when I see it," conveys to the employee
that you haven't really thought about what you expect and what you consider
· Vague definitions don't help employees. Responses like, "work a
little harder" or "you've gotta be a top performer" only add to
the confusion for employees. It's critical that you provide specific examples
of what performance looks like at every level represented on the scale.
· The answer will vary based on the job. Application of the performance
evaluation rating scale to the position of a welder is vastly different than
applying the same scale to the job of an administrative assistant. What a
"5" looks like in one organization will be different than it does in
another organization. The only way to clearly and usefully define the rating
scale is for the supervisor and the employee to agree on job specific behaviors
and outcomes that represent "5" level performance.
· The rating will always be a judgment. It would be nice if we could
fully quantify employee performance so that the fives were clearly
distinguishable from the fours. Human behavior is just not that simple. As much
as you can try to add measures and calculations to determine performance
ratings, there will always be an element of subjectivity.
· Specific examples provide tangible targets for employees to shoot for.
To answer the question, "what does it take to get a _____," first
start with defining specific examples of performance that describe average or
acceptable performance. From there you can add or subtract to define the higher
and lower ratings.
While some organizations are exploring the idea of eliminating employee
performance evaluations and others have eliminated rating scales altogether,
most still employ a scaled approach. The merits of the scale can be debated and
there are pros and cons for three-level, four-level, and five-level scales. No
matter how your organization chooses to categorize employee performance, you,
the supervisor, are the only person who can answer the question, "what
does it take?"
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