Crowdsourcing Employee Evaluations

May 27, 2008

Where I work employees are rated on two axes: goal attainment and leadership. These are evaluated quarterly and have impact on career advancement and compensation. Not too different from what I experienced at Sabre, Dell and elsewhere.

Goal attainment is simple. You had metrics for the quarter (leads, sales, conversion rate, whatever); did you make it? It’s the most basic measure of whether you did what you set out to do.

Leadership is trickier. How do you get things done? Are you focused on the future as well as the present? Can you communicate the vision and get others to work cross-functionally? Unfortunately, your manager is not the best person to rate you on this stuff. A good manager doesn’t micro-manage and is not in the meetings where you display the nuts and bolts of your leadership ability with peers and subordinates. Your manager’s assessment is indirect and is based on hearsay, gut feelings, and your canny self-promotion. So a dated hierarchical paradigm of leadership is the only reason your manager is qualified to give you those ratings.

However, I have a pretty darned accurate idea of how effective my manager is at leading. She or he is leading; I’m led. That’s the model. How well I’m led is a direct measurement of how effective my manager is at leading. I’m willing to walk this like I talk it. I take my team’s assessment of my leadership skills seriously. I welcome the flaws revealed as it clearly show me where I need to work.

The best leaders know this and already work this way. Shouldn’t we formalize this approach so that the next tier of leaders – those who haven’t figured this out but would be willing and able to adopt it – can benefit?

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