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Rob Parson at Morgan Stanley Essay

1. Evaluate the effectiveness of the Morgan Stanley performance assessment and management system. The primary source of performance assessment at the firm is a multi-source 360 degree feedback tool. The secondary source is an employee’s self assessment. There are a number of issues as to why the primary tool is not effective in truly assessing the performance of an employee at Morgan Stanley. The first issue surrounds the reliability of the raters in the 360 degree process. The raters are from the Capital Markets group and other groups within the firm with little definition if the raters are all at the same organizational level. This calls into question inter-rater reliability as reliability tends to be low when the raters are not from the same level.

The second issue is one of freedom from bias. As the 360 degree feedback tool is highly subjective with regard to the comments it records, it does not address how a manager would assess either leniency or severity errors within the comments. Each of the raters may experience peak-end utility at the time they provide their comments. Unfortunately, this clouds their commentary. Instead of focusing comments on their complete experience with an employee, they may focus only on their last experience. A third issue involves the employee assessment tool. It vaguely addresses the concepts of goal-setting and employee development. In its current form, the tool is mainly used for administrative purposes (promotion and compensation). The sign of a good assessment tool is that it ties the goals of the employee with the goals of the organization. It also provides feedback on areas in which an employee needs to develop their skills and establishes an action plan. Lastly, the intended behaviors of the organization are not formally defined in the 360 degree tool and are not well understood by the company employees including the managing directors. If the company wants to change its culture through this performance appraisal system, the design will have to be modified to better focus on specific behavior expectations. Similar to the employee performance assessment tool, the performance management system at Morgan Stanley also lacks effectiveness. It is a loosely defined and subjective system that appears to be missing substance in two critical areas. The first area lacking substance is its definition of performance.

Performance is not set with clear, measureable goals nor does it take into account developmental plans for the employee. A well defined, well communicated set of goals would have an immediate impact on improving the alignment of the corporate expectations with the goals of the employee. The second area of concern is the lack of quality feedback and coaching. In order for Morgan Stanley’s performance management system to be effective it must train its managing directors on how to provide concise and objective feedback. It must also give them the tools (access to trainers) and empower them to implement employee development. 2. To what extent was Rob’s manager responsible for making Rob successful and how do you think he did? What could he have done differently? What challenges did he face? Rob’s manager has a role and responsibility in Rob’s performance and success. However, this role is limited to providing appropriate goal setting, ongoing objective feedback, and the training of Rob in areas his deficiencies. If this role is carried out in a proper and concise manner, Rob’s ultimate success in the organization depends more on Rob and than his manager. There are several concerns surrounding Rob’s manager’s approach and execution of his role of managing Rob’s success. The first concern is goal-setting. Paul Nasr is primarily concerned with Rob building market share for the firm. Although important, this goal does little, if anything, to address the other goals of the organization as set out by the new president. Paul was not successful in properly defining and communicating the organizational goals. He could have easily remedied this issue by outlining and communicating the goals of the organization, not just increased market share, and tying them to Rob’s performance evaluation. The second concern relates to Paul’s ongoing, objective feedback of Rob’s performance. As they have a manager-subordinate relationship stemming from a prior firm, Paul’s feedback to Rob regarding his performance is subjective and biased. Instead of communicating to Rob how he could have handled a situation differently based upon his own perspective, Paul should have been more objective in communicating how the firm wants and expects Rob to handle the situation.

A management by objectives approach with appropriate goals and objective feedback would help to overcome some of the bias. The third concern pertains to development and training. It is not clear if Morgan Stanley has a cross-team training program in place. If one does exist and Paul is
not using it to his (and Rob’s) advantage in the development of Rob then he needs to do so. If one does not exist, Paul needs to suggest to the human resources director that this type of training be made available to all his employees. Again, Paul does a poor job at this function. Paul faced a number of challenges in developing Rob’s success. One of the challenges was Paul’s own initial lack of understanding of the Morgan Stanley culture. A greater challenge was the lack of a clearly defined and understood management performance system. The system is far too subjective and thusly open to each managing director’s interpretation of its use. Lastly, the 360 degree performance assessment tool did not integrate the organization goals with the employees. The tool focused on feedback provided by others, but did little to assist Paul perform any objective analysis. 3. What should the HR manager recommend in terms of Parson’s performance? Should Rob stay with the company? If so, how should the performance assessment and management system be altered? The HR manager should recommend that Parson is not promoted to managing director at this time. Unfortunately, the most accurate information the HR director has available is the commentary from the 360 degree feedback tool and any additional comments by the managing director. Whether or not the tool is flawed is irrelevant. The behavioral traits observed of Rob are not congruent with the firm’s or the managing director’s position. Rob should stay with the firm. He may be arrogant at times, but he is not totally ignorant of his deficiencies. If Rob truly wants to aspire to the role of managing director, he is quite aware of the performance areas he needs to improve. Only by improving these areas could Rob expect to be promoted. The performance assessment and management system need to be altered in the following ways: First, clearly define the system and properly train all managing directors on it and its use. A variety of performance management system options exist. A management by objectives approach incorporating 360 feedback and objective standards may work best. Second, set clear measureable performance objectives for employees and tie the objectives to those of the organization. Third, provide ongoing objective feedback to employees about their performance. Qualitative comments have a place here, but purely subjective views may skew the assessment due to bias. Finally, establish the proper training channels for employees. Without appropriate
training, development cannot occur and efforts regarding goal-setting and objective feedback are potentially lost.

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