October 25, 2012, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.
From the Editor
Do you want the best possible team with the best possible chance of completing the project successfully? Then don't bother stacking and ranking them, says Kimberly Wiefling. Her column this week takes on a recent Forbes article in support of this common practice. Even if you disagree, the RSA video on employee motivation that she links to is a must see for this week. And while we're on the subject of stellar leadership, blogger Brian Irwin has an even more challenging message for you: Be invisible, and never give out the answers.
Ranking Employees by Performance: A Seriously Flawed Common Practice
One of the most distasteful duties I've performed as a project leader was to rank the people on my team, from best to worst performing, during an annual appraisal process. This is akin to ranking the usefulness of different kinds of music -- it's highly dependent on the music's intended purpose, and subject to the taste of the person judging the music.
by Kimberly Wiefling
This so-called "forced stack ranking" is something I resisted at first, but regrettably I caved in and did what was asked of me. Afterwards I went home and took a shower to wash the stench of the whole experience off me.
Please don't misunderstand me. It's not that I think that objective performance evaluation is impossible, or that performance management is evil. As a scientist I understand that the relative contributions of individual employees can be measured objectively, but it's often very difficult, time-consuming and expensive to do so accurately. As a professional familiar with neuroscience and the psychology of human behavior, I've learned that our ability to judge the performance of other people is flawed -- tainted by perceptual biases beyond our control, and often beyond our awareness. But it's my role as a leader that causes me the greatest concern regarding this widespread practice. As a leader my job is to optimize the results of a team, not merely select top-performing individuals.
Read Kimberly's case against stack ranking »
Kimberly is in Japan again this month, and continues her globe-trotting ways through the remainder of the year. Check out her website for more information. To catch up with other ProjectConnections contributors, see our Where's ProjectConnections section below.
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Brian Irwin challenges us to take on Invisible Agile Leadership by learning some new techniques. "We do not want to be the sole source of thought for our teams. As leaders, our primary goal with respect to teams should be to help them grow into self-sufficient, high-performing and capable groups of individuals."
Kent McDonald is in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on October 30 for a presentation at Building Business Capability on using business models to guide project decisions. You can also catch him at Better Software East in early November.
Sinikka Waugh is running several classes in Iowa this fall, including Secrets to Strong Facilitation on October 26, and Problem Solving and Action Planning on November 7. For more information call DMACC Registration at 515-964-6800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Randy Englund presents highlights from his new book The Complete Project Manager the Project Summit / Business Analyst World in Chicago, Illinois (November 12-15, 2012). Participants in the symposia and workshop will explore the missing ingredients to move from good to great.
Morley Selver is giving a free webinar on Operators as Part of the Project Team in November. (See the link for registration information.) His workshop on Fundamentals of Project Management will be offered November 22-24 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
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