Organizations can have a huge impact in the guidance and training of its members through a well designed performance assessment system. In the article titled Employee significance within stakeholder-accountable performance management systems, (Simmons, 2008) explains the significance of employees in the design and effective use of a performance management system. Because those employees represent the human capital component of the organization who can effectively put other forms of organizational capital to use.
But, as important as individuals to the overall success of an organization, they rarely work in a bubble and alone. Although individual organization members have duties and responsibilities that are central to them, it is imperative that they are capable of creating and working within a strong team structure. Most organizations are naturally split into divisions, departments and regional locations. Those divisions, departments and regional locations are one example of teams. Further, those divisions, departments, and regional locations often are divided into smaller groups of individuals, also constituting teams.
Effective design, use, and assessment of these teams is vital to an organizations long-term success and pursuit of its goals and overall vision. Although organization likely have implemented, whether effective or not, performance management systems, it is less likely that they have a well developed approach to assessing team effectiveness and performance. Organizations may try to use their performance management system for individuals to also evaluate teams. This could be described as attempting to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Even though teams are made up of individuals, they have a unique set of challenges and needs when looking at their performance. Assessing team performance therefore should be viewed as an area that needs to be addressed specifically and with a performance management system designed for the purpose. The authors (Cascio & Aquinis, 2005) make a valuable point that is worth adding to the team performance assessment discussion. They remind that although evaluating team performance can be a value add, it should not be used as a replacement for individual performance assessment.
Further (Cascio & Aquinis, 2005) state that if an organization was to overlook individual performance assessment, it would run the risk of creating an atmosphere of social loafing which in turn could provide other team members the opportunity to reduce their input to the teams performance. Individual assessment, according to (Cascio & Aquinis, 2005), the process for evaluating individual performance is based on three dimensions. They state the following three dimensions, job analysis, performance standards, and performance appraisal.
Job analysis is the process of defining an individuals work and personal job requirements. Performance standards are the conversion of the defined job requirements into levels of acceptable and unacceptable performance. And finally, performance appraisal is the actual evaluation of the individuals strengths and weaknesses. Team assessment includes the three dimensions for evaluation but also includes an additional facet. Team performance assessment and the assessment of individuals performance as a part of a team include evaluating behaviors and skills that contribute to team performance.
A few of the skills specifically mentioned by (Cascio & Aquinis, 2005) are self-management, communication, decision making, and collaboration. Many of those skills are specific to an individuals performance however they also have a significant impact on others within the team and the teams overall success and contribution to the organization as a whole. An additional consideration is the design of and environment that the team was required to operate in. It should also be noted that team members can influence to success or failure of their teammates.
Because team members, team design, and environment can have an impact on an individuals performance within a team, they should be taken into consideration when evaluating an individuals performance within any team. A final point that (Cascio & Aquinis, 2005) bring to mind when evaluating a teams performance is that not every team is the same. Different teams have different lengths of existence and goals. It is therefore important to evaluate the performance of each team as an entity of its own.
At the same time because each team is different, the level of individual versus team assessment will require tailoring the performance assessment to address the variation in the team when compared to another team. The effective evaluation of teams includes the challenges described earlier and some additional ones based on specific team goals. An initial part of evaluating a teams performance should therefore include an understanding of the type of team being evaluated and that teams specific responsibilities and goals.
Finally, when considering the design and implementation of either an individual or team performance assessment process it should be noted that evaluations will be completed by individuals. Those individuals are likely to not have a great deal of experience in evaluating others and teams. It becomes very important for the effective operation of a performance assessment process, that the individuals being tasked with the actual evaluation should be provided the training necessary to implement the process.
The long term effective implementation of teams as integral parts of an organization may ultimately be determined by the organizations ability to correctly assess the teams performance. This is becoming increasing important as many organizations are using teams to combat new pressures from an ever changing global market. Yet according to (Shaw & Schneier, 1995) many organizations are not effectively managing a very important aspect of team success, evaluating team performance and rewarding team and team member success.