Internal organizational records provide a wealth of information that chief information officers, chief human resource officers, and generally, organizational leaders, can utilize to identify who are the top performers in the organization and how to reward them.
Most organizational systems rely on an ad hoc method of identifying top performers, usually embedded in the performance management process which is tied to incentives and salary distributions. The problem with the method is that it’s very difficult to compare individual performances across different professions and roles in any given company. One way of getting that information to be as accurate as possible is to utilize information that the company already collects and that is readily available with minor plug-ins and widgets that will allow you to download the data from your internal systems and analyze it.
Some sources of information are much easier than others, and what we’ve done is list three major sources of information which will help you identify top performers in an unbiased and neutral way, and without relying on an expensive time-consuming process.
The HRIS – Human Resource Information System
Most companies today utilize some form of people and payroll management system. Some are more sophisticated than others but the baseline technologies that are used by the majority of companies today keep enough information stored in them to help you identify people who show above average engagement and dedication to their work – if you know how to export the data. For example, most HR information systems should be able to let you export the number of hours that each individual has worked over a given period of time, the number of days or weeks he or she has taken as sick leave, the number of vacation days utilized and the delay in taking their guaranteed vacation days, the number of accidents and or safety issues that they have been a part of, as well as a number of other factors like the amount of overtime that they worked.
All this information can help you develop profiles of who your top performers are from the perspective of dedication and engagement at the workplace. And, they should be pretty easy to interpret. For example, it may be that the top 10% of sick-day-leave takers in your organization are less engaged because they are taking sick days off unnecessarily, or because they are looking for any excuse not to come to work. Or it could be that you find many employees working overtime but the employees who routinely work over time are less engaged and less able to perform because their current skill sets does not allow them to perform the duties and functions of their job responsibilities in the regular time allotted for the performance of those duties (the 40 hour week).
Each case is a little bit different, and when analyzed you have to look at everything in a relative way. Taking 10 days of sick leave because you live in a very cold and snowy geography (which may cause you to get sick more often) may not be as revealing as taking seven days in a location with a warm climate. Therefore, the comparison of your top versus your bottom ranked employees should take place in a relative way not an absolute way.
Email Data – Responsiveness and Volume
There has been a number of studies that correlate responsiveness and volume of email communication with relative engagement and the ability to fulfill the duties of a particular job. The way the studies explain the correlation is very simple: Generally speaking, if you are highly responsive to emails that include questions or comments regarding particular jobs and projects, then you are more likely to be more dedicated and more engaged in your work.Therefore, you are more likely to be a top performer.
Once again, measurement and interpretation of responsiveness and the volume of email one receives have to be done in a relative manner. In some industries it is commonplace to carbon copy every single person that has anything to do with a particular project and even the ones that have nothing to do with it. That means that relative volumes of emails for each individual may be much higher than in other industries and in other companies. Also, volume does not always equate with engagement when the centrality or the relative mediation of an individual is low. That means that if someone is receiving a lot of emails from one small particular group and has no relative responsiveness to any of them, it may be that they are just receiving emails that have nothing to do with their duties, and that data would not necessarily tell you if they’re engaged or not.
Responsiveness is a better measure for accurately interpreting the levels of engagement that an individual has in the organization than volume, but volume has its uses. The assumption behind the responsiveness metric is that engaged employees have lower response times to emails that are significant to the progress of work and thus top performers.
Survey Data – Opinion Polls
The last and perhaps more important source of data, if collected, can yield some amazing insights on who are the top performers in your organization. The challenge with the collection of survey data such as the watered-down version called the 360, is that in order to interpret the results accurately you will need advanced analytical and technical techniques.
Techniques such as the ones that the Human Alliance employs in some of its work like social network analysis and organizational network analysis would allow you to visualize the relative importance of each individual in a given corporate network. However, the survey data itself can be very helpful even in normal analytical situations where the analyst looks at aggregate amounts of data rather than in network or matrix form.
It is commonly accepted and has been proven many times that trust networks, utilization networks and reliance networks are highly correlated with engagement and top performance, and some studies put them even more highly correlated than any other human capital metric, such as academic background, years of experience, or performance evaluation ratings. This makes survey data pretty powerful if you wanted a way to identify top performers without the inherent bias that comes along in the performance evaluation process.
Surveys are perfect for the collection of this ‘soft’ type of data where rankings and ratings can be aggregated, and the fact that they are highly correlated with top performance makes it an ideal source of data for you.