Chapter 4
Define Performance Assessments
Introduction
Performance objectives are most valuable when they have been
defined in measurable performance terms. Before making decisions
about how to improve performance, however, you have to identify
the actual mechanisms for measuring achievements—that is, the
performance assessments that will be used to measure accom-
plishments. Defining the tools and techniques that will be used to
assess performance will help you select appropriate performance
technologies (those that can accomplish necessary results), as well
as guide any evaluative judgments about the success of the per-
formance improvement efforts. When comparing and selecting
alternative interventions, for instance, you will use these measures
to assess the potential of each potential performance technology to
accomplish desired results.
The process for defining the appropriate performance assess-
ments for each objective includes the identification of the charac-
teristics necessary for an assessment to adequately measure per-
formance, as well as steps for either selecting or creating the nec-
essary performance assessment tools and techniques (see Figure
4.1). You will want to define the performance assessments that will
measure your results prior to selecting the performance technolo-
gies or processes.
Performance assessments are helpful in a number of ways:
they can help you communicate achievements; monitor progress in
accomplishing results; clarify results-focused expectations; inform
and educate organizational partners; motivate partners; document
results; and evaluate accomplishments. That's why they come in a
variety of shapes and colors. From single-item data points (e.g.,
number of products sold) and complex scales (e.g., attitude sur-
veys) to qualitative observations of performance (e.g., task
approval) and quantitative comparisons (e.g., balanced score-
cards), performance assessments are as diverse as the decisions
they support. Be sure that your decisions regarding the selection or
creation of assessment objectives are aligned at each level of
results.
76 Performance by Design
Figure 4.1. Process for defining performance
Revise as required
Define Performance
Assessments
Step 1: Cluster performance
objectives
Step 2: Identify desired
characteristics
Step 3: Select or create an
appropriate assessment
Step 4: Verify alignment
Relating Performance Objectives,
Measures, and Indicators
Defining success in terms of the results to be accomplished has
been our primary focus up to this point. Performance assessments
now have to be selected and/or developed to serve as the actual
measurement vehicles in determining the success of any selected
performance technologies. Do this prior to selecting any perform-
ance solutions. The tools and techniques used to evaluate the suc-
cess will determine which performance technologies are best able
to provide the required results.
Performance measures can be single items of data, aggregates
of indicators from multiple components of the same result, or even
indexes of data from multiple sources. Most performance assess-
ments consist of multiple measures. Depending on the performance
objective, a single measure or a variety of measures may be appro-
priate. At the individual/team level (where performance objectives
are typically most detailed), only a single measure might be neces-
sary. It is nonetheless frequently useful to include more than one
measure of performance.
Define Performance Assessments 77
Multiple indicators of performance are useful. Measures of
workforce compliance, for example, can be combined with a new
time-card policy that includes number of users, daily entry logs,
number of errors, and so forth. The multiple indicators of perform-
ance (i.e., results) can provide a more complete picture of accom-
plishments.
Each performance objective should have at least one assess-
ment, one measure, and one indicator of performance. When pos-
sible, use the same (or similar) measures or indicators to assess
results related to more than one performance objective, and try to
identify closely related assessments for those performance objec-
tives that are aligned with the achievement of similar results. By
increasing the number of indicators and measures of performance,
you can improve the accuracy of a performance assessment.
Linking Performance Objectives
Analyze, link, and cluster performance objectives that have related
measurements of success to develop effective performance
assessments. By doing this, you capitalize on shared measures of
performance and reduce redundancies in evaluating success by
systemically aligning performance objectives. Review the perform-
ance objectives across organizational divisions as well. Look for
similarities, associations, sequences, and opportunities to share
performance indicators.
It is important to have a systemic perspective of performance
objectives (see Figure 4.2). Focusing on single performance objec-
tives can lead to random acts of improvement, rather than a coordi-
nated initiative that consistently accomplishes useful results.

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