RSS Measuring the Intangibles

In all performance management systems there exists a defined expectation for each employee, whereby, they are measured and rewarded for specific tasks and related outcomes. Most supervisors prefer to measure only the easily quantifiable performance expectations because they are compiled from internal reports, surveys or some other objective measurement. In addition, objective measurements can be much less problematic to a supervisor because they remove much of the acrimony that could be created by sharing their subjective analysis of an employees’ performance. Subjectivity, by its very definition, is open to interpretation. Subjectivity attempts to measure the intangibles of an employee such as effort and attitude, and may also deal with the positive or negative perceptions these personal intangibles create.
Employee Evaluation

Many supervisors procrastinate on their performance evaluations, in part because they want to avoid presumably uncomfortable discussions with employees who might disagree with their subjective opinion. It’s easier to deal with numerical valuations than it is to defend subjective interpretation, especially if these interpretations are open to challenge.   

While I can both understand and appreciate this tendency, I nonetheless shudder to think of the negative consequences to an organization if their leaders fail to address employee intangibles in a timely and proper way. I personally believe that all employees want to do the right thing, and as leaders, we owe it to our talent to make them aware of those individual characteristics and tendencies that might be a deterrent to their professional success. 

 Whatever position you have in your organization, think for a moment about the team of employees you work with the most. These could be your peers, your supervisors or your subordinates. As you visualize your teammates, take a moment to think about each of their strengths and weaknesses. Don’t you have some specific perceptions about each team member, either positive or negative, that if shared with them might help the team become more effective? As a consequence, might it also create just a little more value to your organization? 

Now, think for a moment about the supervisor or leader of your team. Do you think they take the time to assess your intangibles or those of your team members? Do you think they might come to the same conclusions that you have? If so, are these perspectives shared in a timely and appropriate way? 

No matter what your answer is to these questions, the important point for me is this: effective leaders are providing ongoing coaching of the intangibles at all times. These conversations are brief, specific and results-focused. Employees appreciate them because they are moments of learning, not moments of evaluation. None of us wants to be “evaluated” every minute of every day. What we want is for our leaders to see us in action and offer us the frequent benefit of their wisdom, so that we can be better tomorrow than we are today. 

It is the regular and ongoing communication between leaders and their team members that builds sustainable trust and long-term organizational value. In my humble opinion, the best leaders are those that evaluate less and communicate more, especially when it comes to the intangibles that create the single greatest competitive advantages for every organization.

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Home About Archive Mitch HagstromMitch Hagstrom
Executive Vice President
Chief Banking Officer
Pacific Continental Bank

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