If you were a functional team manager and was asked to loan an employee for a long-term project, how would you assess his performance if he worked for the project manager? Functional managers and project managers must find middle ground and agree how to measure a functional employee’s performance while assigned to a project. There are several ways to measure and report performance, but this paper will describe and compare three techniques used by project managers today. This paper will also why it is important to have a documented performance management process and what could happen if it was missing.
Three Performance Measurement Methods
According to Kerzner (2009), there are generally nine methods used when evaluating project employees:
Graphic rating scale
Critical incident appraisal
Management by objectives
Work standards approach
Of these nine, this paper will choose three methods that are generally used in most companies – graphic rating scale, management by objectives, and ranking methods. Graphic rating scale is a method that is quick to set up but sometimes lacks the details and nuances of an employee’s performance and how the work was completed. Basically, the graphic rating scale is a form with a table that contains general statements about major work done on a project. Examples of these statements are “communicates effectively with peers” and “completes required work all of the time.” These rows in the table have a corresponding value that the project manager can select that best represents the employee’s performance on that topic. An example of these values are “strongly disagree” and “strongly agree.” Here’s what the form might look like:
Neither Agree or Disagree
Communicates with peers
Completed all work on time
As indicated earlier, this method is limited to what criteria is listed in the form and does not account for other employee competencies not listed on the form. Management by objectives is a very common method to measure performance. This method requires that a list of objectives be created before the project starts that the employee must aspire to meet or exceed. Large companies like Microsoft use this method to allow each employee to create their own objectives (called commitments inside Microsoft) at the beginning of each fiscal year. In some cases, employees get to choose which commitment they identify, while in other cases the management creates them and the employees must accept them. This is an effective method because it gives the employee an outline of what is expected of him during the project. The employee can refer back to the objectives regularly to help keep him focused.
The ranking method can be effective, but it is not the most well-received or accurate performance measure. In this method, management gets together and compares the milestones, accomplishments, and results from each employee and creates a stack ranking of the team. The employees at the top of the list usually get more bonuses and other performance rewards, while the middle of the list gets the standard compensation and the bottom of the list might get nothing. This method is not popular with the employees because it relies too heavily on the debating skills of their manager. Also, the ranking system is sometimes subjective because there is no documented list of objectives that all employees should be measured. Often the employees that were assigned to a high-profile project usually get a higher ranking than others, even though the amount of work was the same.
Why We Measure Performance
Performance measurement is a critical part of the overall project. Firstly, measuring an employee’s performance in the project can provide justification for a promotion, bonus or merit increase in salary. Since project successes usually include some type of bonus payout, an effective performance measurement method can help the project manager determine which employees deserve larger compensation and which deserve less. Another benefit of performance management is that employees can learn about their strengths and weaknesses in their role. This can help employees identify learning or training opportunities to help them become more productive and more valuable to the company. If there was no performance measurement, how could the project manager identify future project team members and make note of low-performing project team members so they are not considered for future projects? Without this process, there would be no way for employees to get honest feedback about their performance. Most employees want this feedback so they can help the company succeed.
In every company, a project manager must use the resources he is given to complete the project. Sometimes he gets to choose his team, and sometimes not. Every company has many projects with often the same pool of employees doing the work. Most project managers would rather choose their project team based on past performance on other projects so they have a good chance of completing the project within the triple constraints. Without this form of measurement, it would be a guessing game – and no one wants to leave a project to chance.
Kerzner, H. (2009). Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling (10th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.