Evaluation: Work Performance and Ratings

Quote of the week:

The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates
the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous
structure of reality.  It is enough if one tries merely to
comprehend a little of this mystery every day.
Never lose a holy curiosity.
              
 —Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

The goal of this week’s learning is to discuss the importance of the concept of evaluation in terms of work performance and ratings.  Why is this relationship important?  Just as we asked in week 1, the question still applies: how do we know what we’re doing works?  How do we know we’re getting our money’s worth or in business speak—a good return on investment (ROI)?  The purpose of job analysis is simply to understand the behavioral requirements of work, which, according to our text, really haven’t changed much in 85 years (Landy & Conte, 2010, p. 203).

The importance this week is the question of the correlation between performance and effectiveness.  What is this link and why is this important?  What elements are within the control of the worker and which are beyond their control?  Moving forward, we will base our answers using the definitions of performance and effectiveness as offered by our text authors on p. 175 (Landy & Conte, 2010).  

Soon-to-be-famous Segment: News You Can Use.

Now let’s look at the application of what we have learned this week.  How does this translate into action?  How can this translate into “News We Can Use Today?”

How do we connect the dots from the most applicable job design to the roles that people play within this design and their effective impacts?  “Organizational structure is based on a system of interlocking roles, and the relationship of one role to another is defined by task-related behaviors” (Jones, 2010, p. 95).  How then does one decide who does what most efficiently and how these relationships interrelate?  Let’s explore the question posed on p. 179 with regard to “organizations that experience variations in demands from chaos to calm” (L&C, 2010, p. 179).  Our authors suggest that perhaps our focus might be best served to look deeper at employees who “show the smallest variation between typical and maximum performance” (p. 179).  Why would this smaller variation perhaps be indicative of a higher performing individual—one that an organization would have an increased interest in hiring?  

How many of us have spent time questioning what we (and others) do and why, and how we (and they) fit into the bigger picture of the puzzle top box?  Remember the Jigsaw Puzzle Principle offered by Kouzes and Posner (1997) in our week 1 together.  Do we and people with whom we work know their piece of the puzzle, and how they relate to the whole [the entire completed puzzle] of the organization?

Story time:  *smiles* I have found that in the many teams I have managed over the years, ‘inquiring minds want to know’.  Most of my staff will tune out ‘state of the union’ addresses by top managers in companies because they couldn’t relate to how they fit into the big picture, particularly when the CEO was more than eight layers removed from them.  They had no clue how what they offered was valuable to the ‘overall scheme of things’.  Consequently, they tuned out and overall productivity suffered.  *shakes head and sighs*

The lesson here?  I spent countless hours with my teams trying to break down specific job design roles and responsibilities to their level.  When the CEO was talking about a specific line item on the budget, I would spend time showing how what our team did, specifically showed up on that line item.  This made them feel valued and connected to the puzzle top box—to show them how what they did as part of the overall structure of the company, increased (or decreased as the case may be) the bottom line to the company and to various specific customers.  This specificity—how their world connected to the overall purpose of the company made all the difference.  Our conversation was more than just an organizational chart of who reported to whom and why, but a concept of function, of how what they did could be traced back through organizational purpose and function to an effective outcome, where they could see how their contributions mattered AND interrelated to those around them.

Now back to the ‘news you can use’ part of this lecture segment.  How does this specifically help you within your organization that you work with?  Be sure to look above, look across, and look down to highlight the various relationships and connections that the organizational design offers the bonds of relationships to form between functions (Maxwell, 2008).  What can you take away from this today?  Remember my goal is to help you see—with new eyes—what is already there.

Now we can ask ourselves, do these pieces ‘fit’ together for more effective and functional outcomes?  How can research help us determine the most effective measures of cognitive ability that are most closely related with task performance?  Remember the goal of I-O Psychologists are to look for meaning in these relationships, to look at how work creates meaning for the worker that translates into outcome for the organizations.   How can we enhance the roles of each, particularly as they relate to each other?

Our text suggests the dichotomy of two extremes of employees: those that do only what is asked and those that go well beyond without ever being asked.  Have you ever wondered why?  Our friends Landy and Conte (2010) suggest that new research is looking at precisely this element—they refer to this as organizational citizenship behavior (OCB).  The goal is to try and understand the dynamics of the human factor, particularly altruism.  What makes some simply stay within their defined boundaries of their job and others explore beyond and then some?  This of course then begs the question: Why?

While research is ongoing, the findings offered in Chapter 4 (pp. 184-185) suggest there are some interesting relationships with regard to personality, job design, organizational cultural and climate, and perhaps even gender stereotyping.  As our authors suggest “This research, currently in its infancy, shows promise as a fascinating view of the emerging definition of effective performance and how it can be achieved” (L&C, 2010, p. 185).

Let’s be sure to use our outcome based thinking approach—and begin at the end of the equation—what is it that our organization intends to do and how can they create such a climate for effective performance to do it?  What are relationships of personality to absenteeism and perhaps intentional sabotage and what insights do these relationships and research offer?  How can we use what research offers us with regard to these elements? Why is this relevant?  Why should we care?

Lastly, let’s look at the concept of analysis and what this offers us particularly in the case of expert performance.  To begin our dialogue, who is an expert?  How is expertise determined?  In one of my first books , I offer a concept I refer to as Fail Faster Succeed Sooner (The Refractive Thinker®: An Anthology of Doctoral Writers: Chapter 10).  I introduce a character I refer to as Peter the Plumber.  Let’s try this exercise for a moment and answer the following question.  Why do you hire a plumber?  What are you paying this plumber for exactly?  In a nut shell, you are paying Peter for his failures in the past so as to fix your problem, the right way, the first time, in this current moment.  You are not really paying Peter for his 15 minutes or more in your house for your current problem.  Instead you are paying him for his failures in the past that led up to today.  Landy and Conte (2010) refer to this aspect as simply practice.  An expert has learned from repeated and focused practice of what effective performance looks like.  As a result, the expert is an outstanding evaluator.  Whatever the type of expertise demanded, the expert must be able to recognize the relevant aspect of the situation and decide what needs to come done.  It is this reorganization that comes from hours, days months, and years of deliberate practice. (L&C, 2010, pp. 196-197). 

This of course begs the question why do some invest this time and others do not?

Great points for us to ponder this week.  Let’s tug on these strings a wee bit more as we move into our discussions and see where this takes us.

 Enjoy your week and happy thinking!

Dr. C

REFERENCES

Connors, R., Smith, T., & Hickman, C. (2004). The Oz Principle: Getting results through individual and organizational accountability. New York, NY: The Penguin Group. 

Jones, G. R. (2010). Organizational theory, design, and change (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (1987). The leadership challenge: How to get extraordinary things done in organizations. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Landy, F. J., & Conte, J. M. (2007). Work in the 21st century: An introduction to industrial and organizational psychology (2nd ed.). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Robinson, R. D. (1994). Helping adults learn and change. (Rev. ed.). West Bend; WI: Omnibook Co.

**For more helpful tips on doctoral publishing, please join us for a free webinar (a $97 value!) by going to http://www.FreeRefractiveThinker.com. Please feel free to share your comments!

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June 13th, 2011 by admin

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