Leaders must aim for consistency in their appraisal styles if they hope to gather useful data. Unfortunately, without a policy for performance evaluations, there’s no guarantee that managers can collect meaningful, reliable information over time. Businesses need to establish an assessment standard to accurately measure their employees’ performances.

Standardize for Success

The first part of any standardization is deciding what characteristics to measure. Even the most sophisticated systems do no good if what they’re designed to evaluate isn’t clear. Define desired characteristics precisely to avoid confusion; a single word can apply to many qualities. Ensure your reviewers understand the qualities you’re looking for. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Be specific and relevant. For performance evaluations, characteristics must relate to a business’ function. Whether you’re establishing a companywide standard or modifying existing definitions to better suit a division, measuring characteristics that aren’t relevant to your concerns doesn’t improve standardization. Managers who find a useless tool will probably ignore it.
  • Set up a standard scale. Once you’ve defined your characteristics, organize a standard scale. Just like you wouldn’t measure inches when you need pounds, your scales should be applicable to the skills you evaluate. Your final gages may all use the same labels, but give a detailed analysis of what each rating level means in practice.

A standard scale doesn’t have to include an actual rating reviewers use. It could be as simple as the presence or absence of certain qualities, or as complex as qualitatively summarizing employee performance. The important part is all your raters use the system.

  • Follow through. After defining characteristics and scales, ensure the instrument measures what it was designed to. Although this part of the standardization process may seem simple, it should never be overlooked. If a tool doesn’t measure what it’s intended to, it’s functionally useless.

Options for Enterprises

Many businesses use tools that have already been developed. However, you’ll need to test their validity before using them. It might be best to use the system on several hypothetical employees to see how the system would rate them. Doing this means you can eliminate the chance of preexisting biases before actual employees are rated. Modifications should also be tested before implementation to check they don’t damage the preexisting validity of a measuring instrument.

Remember that tools and reviewers don’t remain static. Occasionally host new training sessions on evaluation best practices. If you introduce changes to your review method, confirm everyone knows how to use the tool with these updates – even if the adjustment isn’t that radical. This ensures a standard interpretation is used throughout the company.

Review, Reorganize, and Repeat

Reviewing the results is an important part of establishing consistency. Even a cursory glance can reveal whether your assessors are using the standard methodology. If you find evaluators aren’t using the established process, follow up with them. Reorganize. Prepare for the next review. Standardization is intended to promote fairness, and everyone needs to understand and follow the system you’ve found to work best. For more information on setting up these systems and evaluating your workforce, sign up for our performance review creation tool.