Performance Calibration – Good or Bad?
Posted by Marcie Van Houten on November 22, 2008
I’ll admit that I’ve been going along for awhile now believing that performance calibration is a good thing. What could be bad about coming together as a management team, discussing your employees’ performance and using these conversations and comparisons to help calibrate the final performance ratings? So I was surprised today when a co-worker referred to performance calibration as being dated and old-school and assumed, but was dismayed that companies were still dong it. Enough so that I stopped the conversation to dig in deeper.
Well, it turns out her mental image of performance calibration was completely different than mine. Whew, thank goodness. But I think this difference warrants further investigation. She associated performance calibrations with the exercise of having managers take their initial performance ratings they’ve assigned their employees and then forcing them into a bell curve assignment – or calibrating them to the curve. This forced ranking would then likely be used to identify the bottom 10% and well, you know what happens next. So this performance calibration to the bell curve had a very negative connotation to her, and, in my opinion, rightly so.
Performance calibration is more accurately seen today as an exercise by which an organization comes together to discuss employees’ performance ratings to ensure a consistent and fair assessment has been made based on past performance. It’s an opportunity for managers to start the conversation about their employees with the next step to be to conduct talent calibrations where the future performance, or potential, of employees is discussed. Talent calibration… now that’s a whole other post.
Performance calibration is good, but we should be aware that there is still some perception out there that it’s about ranking to a bell curve. And while good, it’s not the whole story and we shouldn’t stop there. There’s talent calibration and even talent reviews to conduct.
But for now, good prevails over evil and all is again right in the world. And as always, there’s the opportunity to do better.