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The Value of Calibrating Effectiveness

Authored by: Managing Partner Roger Pearman

When your General Practitioner informs you that you need a neurosurgeon and she gives you a list of ten in the area, what do you do? You go to physician rating sites to see how each neurosurgeon is rated.  You check patient comments and ratings to see how previous individuals experienced the surgeon, and you go down the list of various other ratings. In short, you look for all the information you can find to rank order, or calibrate, to identify the best surgeon.

If you play fantasy football, do you simply select players because of their imposing size or speed, or they played for your alma mater, or they wear your lucky number on their jersey?  No, you search for player statistics to see how they perform in their position, especially relative to others who play that position. You rank order, or calibrate, your options. You are looking for a performance edge in the data.

When you are considering a movie for the weekend, you likely search for how others have rated the movie to help decide if the entertainment value is worth the $50 you are going to spend. You guessed it. You rank order, or calibrate, your options.

Calibrating at Work

Having accepted that rank ordering performance matters, why do we recoil at providing relative rankings for others’ behavior on the job?  Saying to an individual that, in relative terms, certain behaviors are among the highest in their performance and others are among the lowest in their performance should be viewed as a clarifying opportunity.  It’s clarifying for the individual getting the rating and a valuable cerebral exercise for the observing rater.

It does require more brain power to do relative rankings, and yet the benefits of such an effort are many.  The individual receiving the ratings learns about their relative strengths and the areas of challenge, so that development efforts will be targeted and will benefit all concerned.

Likert (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) ratings no longer work in providing differentiated and useful information.  Not only have rating averages increased over time, but variations in the data have also narrowed.  This means that it is common for just about everyone to receive similar high scores with little clarity about what is highest, moderate, or lowest for a given individual. And it is equally difficult to differentiate these ratings from one learner to the next. Certainly it can’t be the case that one learner is pretty much like everyone else, in all comparable areas.

So yes, it is worth the effort to consider what is among the highest, next highest, moderate, lower and lowest of effective behaviors so that people know what to pay attention to.  Everyone wins.  The data are more actionable.  It is an investment in any individual’s career to provide better data about what needs to be adjusted to increase effectiveness.

Multiple times a year, there are articles in business columns or magazines where managers and leaders report not getting useful and helpful feedback. They may already know or believe that they are pretty effective in specific behavioral areas, yet they desire to increase their effectiveness and to learn more about those things that will provide them and their teams a competitive advantage.  Forced, or relative ranking of behavior provides this calibrated gift.

The TalentTelligent Virtual Card Sorting Platform and 360 Survey’s are all powered by the ability to calibrate others’ behavior to provide actionable developmental feedback. Learn more…

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