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Reblog: Metrics in Lean – Alternatives to Rank-and-Yank in Evaluating People | Michel Baudin’s Blog

August 16th, 2012 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , ,

I think you will spend 132 seconds reading this post

Here’s a nice article from Michel Baudin about evaluating employees.

Metrics in Lean – Alternatives to Rank-and-Yank in Evaluating People | Michel Baudin’s Blog.

I like most of what’s written there, though I’m still wary of just evaluating. Couldn’t we yank (pun intended) the evaluation process altogether?

My arguments in support of this are that, like Deming said, most problems are process related (being into Systems Thinking, I’d also say that most are system related as well). So, how could you evaluate someone when their individual performance only accounts for 5% in their result?!

I’ve come to know that some companies try to evaluate teams rather than individuals. I see clear benefits from that, though the main drawback being that people can hardly stand out when they would like to. But it might be a matter of adapting to that kind of evaluation and seeking peer recognition rather than management’s. Some of the benefits are:

  • better intra-team collaboration and exchanges
  • fewer competition among team members (which is often detrimental to overall performance)
  • better sense of purpose since people share something and can feel contributing to something bigger than themselves (the team) – a highly motivating factor
  • (gentle?) peer pressure so as not to be caught sky glazing, though I’m not sure this really is a benefit (surely in the eyes of traditional management, but not necessarily in employees’ mind…)

All in all, I have it that a poor performing individual is mainly a management problem:

  • has the employee been hired for the wrong reasons?
  • has the employee been hired on wrong criteria for the job?
  • did management provided adequat support for making that person thrive in his job?
  • did management do his duty so as to keep that person in the job she was hired for?
  • is the person still adapted/willing to do the job she was hired for in the first place? Maybe this is time for her to move elsewhere in the organization… to a place she’s willing to go!
  • etc.

Of course, there are new challenges with taking care of people that way, namely that you can’t just put people where they would like to be if they don’t have the required skills. But you can surely devise a cleaver way of slowly prepare the persons for their new activities. Of the cost involved to do so, you’ll also gain a highly motivated workforce that will fight for their own benefit, which, incidentally, will coincide with that of the organization. Priceless, isn’t it?

Isn’t that a win-win approach to be sought for?


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  • Dear Nicolas:

    There are decisions a business organization has to make about its members on an individual basis, including not just raises, bonuses or stock options but also training, promotions, lateral transfers, etc.

    In the absence of a formal review process, these decisions are made ad-hoc by management, as the need arises. It can work in a tiny organization, where all members personally know each other. In an organization of as few as 50 members, however, a formal process guarantees that every members receives some attention, and is reviewed with a modicum of objectivity and fairness.

  • Michel,
    I do agree with you and the fairness requirement. Though, how can some remote manager know, lest be fair with a remote employee? Only close management can do so.

    And when it comes down to what you mention: training, promotions and transferts, I guess it’s so specific that having some generic way of evaluating people (like I’ve come to encounter during my own career), make them unsuited for that purpose…

    So I agree that some process must exist and that everybody gets a chance to go through it. Now, we’re not manufacturing people (!) so I don’t see how we could apply the exact same operational tasks to each individual employee. It’s like the Service industry: High Variety, Low volume (indeed, volume is of one for each individual!).

    Which doesn’t mean it can be standardized of course, but that some part of the evaluation process necessarily must be adapted to each and every employee.

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