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Job well done? Better ways to assess tech employees

Mary K. Pratt | April 2, 2013
As IT responsibilities evolve, managers strive for better ways to measure techies' contributions

But any organization that wants to maximize the value of its workers will want to make sure assessments do, indeed, get done, Russell says. Performance management, of which evaluation is an important part, is "basically how an organization leverages people to achieve what it's trying to achieve," she says. (See Key IT performance metrics for specifics.)

"If you have a set of goals and if you only ever talk about them formally once a year, as many companies do, you're not going to be set up for success," Russell explains. "The more you talk about them, the more ingrained they are with your staff and managers, and the more likely you are to achieve those goals."

The TEKsystems survey found that 83% of IT professionals say that formal feedback is either extremely important or important to their success. About half of employees say they receive formal feedback once or twice a year, with 37% of IT professionals reporting that they get formal feedback on at least a quarterly basis.

Survey respondents say they value informal feedback even more, with 93% of IT professionals agreeing that regular, high-quality informal feedback is important to their success.

Yet, only 14% of IT professionals and 12% of IT leaders say that informal feedback is given when performance deviates from expectations, according to the survey. Moreover, 15% of IT professionals and 8% of IT leaders say that informal feedback isn't given at all.

And when informal feedback is given, it's not always very good; the survey found that only 43% of IT professionals and 49% of IT leaders rate the quality of informal feedback as excellent or very good. Some 27% of IT professionals actually rate the quality of feedback as poor or very poor.

"Employees are hungry for the informal conversations so the goals that the organization has are top-of-mind for employees and they know when they're meeting them and when they're not," Russell says.

Assessing value to the business

The process should start by knowing and clearly articulating those goals and how each IT worker helps reach them, says Dan Roberts, president of Ouellette & Associates Consulting Inc. in Bedford, N.H. Those defined goals should shape the metrics that are then used to evaluate technologists, he says.

"The skill sets and competencies are changing, so we have to assess our people in new ways, provide new frameworks, to see where they are with these new core competencies," Roberts says. "More and more they're being measured around relationships, how they're perceived by the business."

More and more [employees are] being measured around relationships, how they're perceived by the business. Dan Roberts, Ouellette & Associates

 

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