Merce Select

Performance evaluation

  • Performance

    Over the years, we have evolved in our idea of employee performance. We now have a mixture of approaches to define what we consider performance.

    For employees in internal roles, we have internal yardsticks to evaluate performance. For instance, if an engineer has spent most of his time on fixed-price projects which are executed from within our office, then internal yardsticks and internal assessment sources are used to evaluate his performance.

    For employees assigned to customer contracts in outsourced teams, we assess performance by taking feedback from the customer. For staff augmentation contracts, we have a QES (Quick Evaluation Sheet) which has about 10 multiple-choice questions which we ask the customer's manager to fill every week for each team member. We estimate that it takes about five minutes to fill one QES, therefore it is fair that a manager spends five minutes evaluating a team member's performance for one week. The QES translates to a numerical grade in a very transparent calculation, and we use this numerical grade as a key input in our performance evaluation of each engineer. There is no QES for internal assignments.

  • How we evaluate

    The CIA For some time now, we have done internal evaluation using a three-pronged assessment: we call it the CIA measure. We evaluate each officer on these three attributes.

    C stands for communication, I stands for intelligence, and A stands for attitude. The relative importance of C with respect to the other two attributes varies depending on the officer's role. C is given very high weightage for on-site engineers assigned to customer site for maintenance or support. It is given low weightage in young engineers assigned highly technical tasks in in-house teams.

    We evaluate these attributes by taking feedback from various members who have worked with the officer during the evaluation period. This includes peers and seniors.

  • Why evaluate performance?

    It is generally believed that performance evaluation (i) encourages good employees by acknowledging their good work, and (ii) helps the company by allowing it to focus on good employees and ignoring or sacking the bad ones. We are not sure the impact is this simple.

    We find that our best officers do not get motivated by a mere formal performance evaluation. They need to know that the evaluation process is honest and accurate -- they need to know that the team which is evaluating their performance is smart enough to identify good work from bad, and honest enough to make the evaluation credible. If they do not believe this, a good performance begins to appear like a PR exercise to them, a statement of sweet words aimed to keep them happy and retain them in the company. Once they begin to feel this way, a positive evaluation does not impress them any more.

    We also find that the management's attempt to improve the overall quality of our team is only partly helped by performance evaluations. What the management does when it sees poor performance in a team is a much bigger challenge than the evaluation itself.

    One benefit we have seen of performance evaluations is in differentiating the good from the mediocre in mixed teams. In a team with members of mixed levels, the better team members want to know that the management has the smarts to recognize them as being better than their mediocre colleagues. If the good officers begin to feel that the company is not intelligent enough to distinguish excellence from mediocre, they are inclined to jump jobs. Therefore, performance evaluation appears to play a major part in retaining the loyalty and commitment of some of the good officers in mixed teams. Therefore, all these factors need to be balanced when evaluating performance and acting on its results.


  • Case studies

    Work we have done for other customers in various engagement models