BY SHEILINA SOMANI, PMP, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
By their very nature, formal assessments of team members are subjective—based on culture, experience, emotion, personality and expectations.
Evaluations are also often performed on an ad hoc or informal basis. Because project managers' interactions with team members are often brief or even virtual, assessments can turn into a complete fabrication at worst or a superficial summary at best. And that can lead to dissent within the ranks.
Many organizations have a difficult time defining what an assessment is, its purpose, its relevance and then applying the appropriate professionalism and integrity to effectively execute the evaluation.
Defining boundaries, guidelines and rules is critical to the safety of both the assessor and assessed. By understanding the objectives, constraints, assumptions, exclusions, and key skills and resources required to perform assessments, project managers can better prepare themselves for difficult performance discussions.
Creating acceptance criteria for completion, looking at lessons learned and building a framework for continued communication all require careful planning and attention.
Assessments should be delivered in a structured, well-informed way with plenty of ongoing developmental and psychological support. Ideally, evaluations are conducted by a minimum of two assessors, with briefings both before and after the event. Individuals should also have the opportunity to evaluate themselves and compare any conflicting results.
Here are a few guidelines:
» Be specific. Define the purpose, use, circulation and long-term application of the assessment.
» Outline the measurements. Determine how the evaluation will be quantified and qualified.
» Make the goals achievable. Outline the expected outcomes, activities and behaviors.
» Keep it realistic. Ensure the assessment reflects the individual's abilities and directs them to the training or support that will enable their success
» Time is of the essence. Create a timeframe for the assessment that incorporates the necessary guidelines, communication and support structures.
Once the evaluation is completed, both parties should agree to an action plan to both sustain and evolve behaviors and skills. Regular reviews can increase motivation and confidence as people are recognized, listened to and developed as individuals and as key team members.
If assessments are conducted with skill, integrity and communication, they can help enhance individual performance and build professional excellence. PM
Sheilina Somani, PMP, is owner of U.K.- based Positively Project Management, providing consulting, mentoring and development services.
PM NETWORK FEBRUARY 2008 WWW.PMI.ORG