The personnel decisions you make, or don’t make, will make or break your organization’s performance and your career. Nothing is more important. Personnel decision-making is an acquired art not a science. Through years of trial and error experience, some good, some bad, I developed a method which makes the process much more determinative, accurate, and fast.
Human relations departments attempt making the process more "scientific" by installing grading systems and evaluation criteria, a scale of 1-5 for example. But people aren’t linear, they’re compound and complex. Others make these decisions by gut feel. My breakthrough related to separating the two factors of attitude and capability, which create confusion when they are comingled as is always the case. They are attitude (expressed above with a heart for a good attitude) and capability (expressed above by the + sign for adequate or above capabilities). According to their individual mix individuals will clearly fall into one of four quadrants on the Personnel Matrix, and appropriate actions become quite clear.
You might think these categories are too simplistic. You might be concerned that taking these actions will cause more problems than they solve. Don’t worry; I had the same concerns when I first started using this matrix. Over time, dozens of decision-making situations proved that this streamlined metric is fast, efficient and intelligent. To repeat, making tough, smart, and rapid personnel decisions is an absolute key to making your organization move in the right direction.
Have you ever meet a one-dimensional person? Not likely. Yet most performance appraisal systems are one dimensional, or linear. You get a 1 if you’re a complete idiot, a 2 if you should be fired tomorrow, 3 if you’re okay, 4 if you’re pretty good or above average, and 5 if you’re a superstar.
So no one gets a 1 or 2 because their boss will be reamed if he still has a 1 or a 2 in his employ. People who score a 3 insist on getting a higher rating next year so they start the rating creep process. Their next appraisal will rate them at a 3+ or a 3.2 or whatever silliness the system allows. People in the 4 & 5 category, especially 5, are subject to transfer out via promotion, so that rating is given out grudgingly.
Even though the system is ostensibly 1 through 5, the predominant cluster of ratings hangs in the 3.2 to 3.8 category. That’s okay; you just recalibrate to a more micro scale and read a lot more into the number than the appraiser ever considered. Then highly sophisticated regression analyses are done and conclusions drawn that are, well, concluding.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Human beings (as well as employees) aren’t one-dimensional; they’re two or three or umpteen dimensional. How can you possibly determine or codify an individual’s performance on a linear scale?
Not only is a linear evaluation scale difficult to use, you also have to know how to deal with difficult evaluations, read someone’s performance, and handle the sticky situations that come up between evaluations. This is easier than you think.
Keep in mind that beyond the individuals affected by your decisions, every personnel action you take impacts your organization’s culture. We CEOs think we’re pretty good at assessing people, and probably are to some degree. But when individuals are on stage, some fairly good acting can mask a lot of problems.
However, individuals deeper in the organization have seen the managers perform or not, and typically have a good sense of their true colors. You’re going to be judged by the decisions you make. If you get it wrong, everyone will mentally rate you as a 1. Get it right and you might even get a 4. Either way, your judgments will have a lot to do with the support you receive now and in the future. In the following weeks I'll lay out specifics of how you make these determinations, and what actions to take in each quadrant. This is a powerful tool!