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The evolution of the IT performance evaluation

Mary K. Pratt | Aug. 13, 2013
As IT responsibilities evolve, managers strive for better ways to measure techies' contributions.

How important is regular, high-quality, informal feedback to your success in your role?

Extremely important: 49%

Important: 44%

Neutral: 6%

Unimportant/extremely unimportant: 1%

Source: TEKsystems survey of 3,500 North American IT professionals, October 2012

Olive points to his company's rollout of Salesforce.com, which recently went live to 750 users. The success of that IT project is being measured by managers' and users' testimonials on whether the application helps them do their jobs better or more efficiently. "You share that with your IT employees, so they know we're making an impact on the business," he says.

While Philips Healthcare does have a formal performance development process -- which includes an annual goal-setting session and a formal midyear review where managers meet with their workers and provide written feedback -- the company's ongoing, informal performance-review mechanisms are more likely to capture the business value Olive is after.

Managers gather feedback on their employees from "assessors" -- key people surrounding individual IT workers. With that feedback, managers can better evaluate an employee's strengths and weaknesses, says Jean Scire, senior director of information systems at Philips, who reports to Olive.

The ongoing, informal evaluation process allows managers to identify staffers who aren't performing up to snuff, and either offer them coaching or move them into positions that better fit their strengths. It also allows management to recognize outstanding work through both feedback and formal recognition programs -- both of which are great for morale, Olive says.

Above all, the process ensures that IT as a department is serving the business. "With this business alignment, how you evaluate [performance] is really about what you're doing for the business and what value do you add," he says.

Walking the Walk

CIOs and IT management consultants stress that this evolving approach to performance monitoring and evaluation requires a lot from managers. They must interact with employees and their business unit colleagues often enough and openly enough to hear and see when systems are making the desired improvements, when collaborations are happening as they should, and when projects are progressing as intended -- and when they're not.

That means taking the time to talk to people about a job well done, soliciting nominations for formal recognition programs, or working one-on-one with an employee who's missing milestones, Scire says. "You have to know your employees well enough to have those open communications," she observes.

Jacobs agrees. At Mitre, "we've been increasingly pushing our [managers] toward 'meaningful conversations' rather than compliance to a checklist," he says. "But even though it's a conversation, it's not just chitchat. There's a method to it -- a method that aligns to what our company is trying to achieve."

 

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