My first recommendation on Emotional Intelligence is for procurement and supply chain professionals to benchmark their own personal emotional intelligence aptitude. I used the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Bradbury and Graves. There are other sources and advice on how to improve emotional intelligence. Know your starting point.
Purchasing Assessments, a new offering from Purchasing Practice, is a procurement skills assessment for procurement professionals and organizations with a strategic focus.
While many assessments just measure a practitioner’s familiarity with tactics, this assessment was designed to measure strategic strengths and weaknesses across a broad range of capability areas. That is what is so difficult about what the assessment intends to do – it takes a set of context sensitive subjective capabilities and puts standards in place that make it possible to differentiate a right response from a wrong response. And while the assessment isn’t perfect, because no assessment of this type ever could be, it comes really close and will only get better as more organizations and individuals take it.
Just joining us? Last week we looked at performance reviews from a procurement manager’s perspective. This week we are looking at the same topic from the perspective of the person being reviewed.
You will likely have a performance review coming early in the New Year. Some people see performance reviews as “facing the music” while others see them as an opportunity to “toot their horn”. For the sake of your own career, I recommend thinking in terms of the latter.
Review time is an opportunity to display your accomplishments, demonstrate your capabilities, and discuss potential opportunities with your manager. At a higher level, this is also a good time for introspection to honestly access your future with the organization.
It’s that time of year.
Don’t shrink from the performance review process. It’s a time to reflect on the past year’s results, recognize accomplishments, and reset expectations with your staff for the upcoming year.
Purpose of the Performance Review
The primary purpose of performance reviews is to measure individual performance against the goals and objectives agreed to at the start of the previous year. I’ll dig deeper into this idea in a forthcoming post on Procurement Goals and Objectives.
Ask each employee to gather their final metrics and plot them next to their initial goals. This exercise reinforces the department’s goals and objectives to employees. Moreover, upon seeing their results, conscientious employees will honestly reflect about their performance before the actual performance review with their manager.
Structure of the Performance Review
Companies use a variety of evaluation systems, but most follow the same basic format.
A rating is assigned to a small number of essential competencies such as “Accomplishments and Results”, “Planning and Organizing”, “Interpersonal Skills” etc. There’s often an area of the performance review reserved for Manager Comments (see Practical Tips below). Finally, an overall score or rating is assigned to each employee – often the most problematic part of the process for managers.
High-performers naturally want the highest scores. Anything less may lead to pouting or worse. But what if you are fortunate enough to have a whole staff of high-performers? What if your company has implemented the controversial Forced Distribution or Bell Curve process for employee appraisals where you must assign 10% top score, 80% middle, and 10% bottom?
It comes down to judgment. If you’re hamstrung in the above situation, make it known jokingly to your staff that you can only award one ‘Exceeds Expectations” appraisal next year. Use it as an opportunity to introduce some good-natured competition among your staff, and make the metrics as transparent as possible along the way to avoid conflict later.
Executing the Performance Review
Regardless of how warm your relations are with employees reviews should be formal; this is good time to remind both parties of the nature of the relationship and demonstrates how seriously you take their performance.
Allow sufficient time for each employee appraisal. This is the employee’s one on one time with the boss and it should never feel obligatory or rushed.
Keep the conversation focused on the results. Methodically compare each metric or result vs. the objective. Make sure the employee understands your expectation for each measureable.
The conversation need not be limited to cold metrics. It’s also an opportunity to have a personal discussion with the employee about their strengths, opportunities, and aspirations.
The good might be: “You’re excellent at managing a variety of personality types” or “I really like the way you break down complex information to cross-functional groups”.
The bad might be: “I’ve observed that you struggle to communicate with some Engineers” or “You have an opportunity to sharpen your presentation skills”.
For each improvement opportunity, have potential solutions as well as specific examples ready: “I think you would benefit from Extended DISC training so you are better prepared to deal with different personality types” or “ I want to review your next couple presentations with you in advance and show you how to keep slides / topics flowing smoothly”.
The best performance reviews are the ones where your employees leave fired up and motivated for the New Year; metrics alone rarely accomplish this outcome.
- Deploy a 360 or rounded feedback template to the employee’s key stakeholders; this is particularly useful for assessing interpersonal skills
- Dump the essay format; use bullet points and semi-colons to string together short, sharp language when summarizing the employee’s performance; incorporate final metrics achieved in these comments
- The performance review is not an occasion for “gotcha” moments. Like steering a ship, micro corrections are necessary throughout the year. Nothing shared in a performance review should ever come as a surprise.
Earlier this week, we discussed the Many Hats a procurement professional wears. With that comes the many skills that are needed. I know the breadth of it can seem daunting. You need to be a good analyst, negotiator, influencer, presenter, and communicator. How does anyone fit all those talents into the same resource? And how do you begin to try to train existing staff as they want to develop in their career?
There are (at most) twelve business days left in 2011. If you have a generous employer or some vacation time left, there are a lot less. There isn’t any time to waste if you want to make 2012 your year - professionally that is. January 1st is just a heartbeat away, and if you haven’t given thought to your goals for the year yet, now is the time. Below is a quote from a Next Level Purchasing Association white paper, titled "The Evolution & Future of Procurement & Procurement Skills" to give you something to think about. I'll also include Rosslyn Analytics' Five Predictions for Procurement and Supply Chain Executives in 2012.