After years of talk about the need for a shift in Performance Reviews, it’s here. We see it with our clients: from a focus on evaluation to forward-thinking discussions. Ratings are still there, but they are not the bottom line.

But there’s something that has been bothering us here at bob for a while: Calibration, a key process that actually decides who gets what (raise, bonus, training etc.) hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves.

Companies either schedule clandestine talent review meetings where managers meet to rate employees or they rely too heavily on the old 9-box model (or both).

The shortcomings of the 9 box model:

The 9 box model is a commonly used method in talent management. It was introduced in the early 1970s as the GE–McKinsey nine-box framework, (originally invented for evaluating business units). Its main value is in acknowledging that an employee rating is not one dimensional.

However, as Leanne Markus states in her article Is the 9-Box Talent Grid Still Relevant?: “As with so many tools in the talent management arena, there has been virtually no analysis of its effectiveness or validity as a measurement tool. In a 2015 study on potential by New Talent Management Network, part of New York-based Talent Strategy Group, the average reported accuracy for identification of those with high potential was only 52 percent.”

The shortcomings of Talent Review meetings:

In her article Behind the scenes: How a 9-box talent review model may hurt you professionally, Deb Calvert states “As a Director with a Fortune 500 company, I participated in the Talent Review process. My input, along with just 6 other people in our ivory tower corporate office, determined how people were paid, promoted and perceived. The impressions we offered had the power to override facts and figures. And the impact of our (mostly unfounded) opinions lasted far longer than whatever formed that impression in the first place.”

She continues: “I’ve been a part of these meetings where managers, senior executives and HR folks talk about people. The loudest voice — the one others defer to — is usually the person with the most subjective impression of the individual being assessed.”

But what if we refused to create just a hi-po bucket? Instead, why not create a simple way of reaching out to people in the company (not always the same people) and asking some more meaningful questions: Who best demonstrates company values? Who is willing to take stretch assignments? Who displays leadership qualities?

Introducing: Talent Groups

bob’s Talent Groups are based on the assumption that people can easily list their “top [something]”: top motivators, top influencers, top ambassadors or even “the bottlenecks”. Instead of plowing one by one and labeling employees, why not ask ONE meaningful question.

The Setup

The group initiator can define:

  • Group name
  • The question that will be sent out
  • Who gets asked
  • What is the pool they can select from direct, indirect reports or all employees?
  • Who can see the results
  • How long invitees have time to respond
  • Is there a cap on how many people they can select/nominate?

The Results

  • After all, answers have been submitted (actually after the duration you allocated for replies has ended), you can go and see who was selected. Not only that, you can now gain actionable insights:
  • Is this group diverse?
  • Are the group members relatively new or are they your old guard?
  • Does a member’s career pattern display a risk factor (e.g. num of manager changes in past 12 months?)

We are aware that this information can be sensitive. That is why each question can be shared differently.

We’re super excited to launch this tool, towards a more transparent and nuanced approach to calibration.

Would this be useful for you? What do YOU think of our approach?

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From Ainatte Inbal

Ainatte is a Product Manager who is leading the development of bob's Performance Management. For inspiration, she likes to bring her dog to work.